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10 Inspiring Facts Guaranteed to Make You Bike More

by
author image Max Roman Dilthey
Max Roman Dilthey is a science, health and culture writer currently pursuing a master's of sustainability science. Based in Massachusetts, he blogs about cycling at MaxTheCyclist.com.

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10 Inspiring Facts Guaranteed to Make You Bike More
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A third of you have a bike, but less than one percent of all trips Americans take are on a bicycle, according to Spokefly.com. Compare that with 27 percent of trips that the Dutch are taking via bicycle. That means that if you have one, your bike is mostly likely gathering dust in the garage. So dust it off, because there’s never been a better time to be cycling. It’s fun, great exercise and an extremely cost-effective way of getting from point A to point B. Cycling on a daily basis is also a proven way of increasing your physical and mental health. Compared to the 55 minutes a day we spend in our cars on average, a bike ride offers a much bigger reward for your health, bank account and environment, not to mention your productivity level and state of mind.

1. Cycling Is Safer Than Walking and Driving
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1 CYCLING IS SAFER THAN WALKING AND DRIVING

For all you worrywarts, a surprising study conducted by Dr. Jennifer Mindell of University College London found that young males under the age of 20 who commuted on a bicycle had a fatality risk of up to five times less than those who drove. For male and female cyclists and drivers between the ages of 21 and 69, the risk of fatality associated with driving and cycling was found to be about equal, but -- surprisingly -- a pedestrian’s risk was found to be significantly greater. “An individual who cycles one hour a day for 40 years would cover about 180,000 kilometers, while accumulating only a one-in-150 chance of fatal injury. This is lower than for pedestrians, who face a higher fatality rate per kilometer traveled,” says Dr. Mindell.

Related: University College London: Cycling Safer Than Driving for Young People

2. Cycling Reduces Your Chance of Death
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2 CYCLING REDUCES YOUR CHANCE OF DEATH

It gets better: Biking is not just less risky, it can help prolong your life. In a study conducted in Copenhagen, Denmark, cycling was found to reduce all-cause mortality rates by up to 39 percent. The study, conducted by Dr. Lars Bo Andersen, observed 30,640 individuals living in Copenhagen over a 15-year period. The study found high correlation between physical exercise specifically found in individuals who cycled to work and an increase in overall health, which drastically reduced their chances of death.

Related: University of Copenhagen: All-Cause Mortality Associated With Physical Activity During Leisure Time, Work, Sports, and Cycling to Work

3. Cycling Burns More Calories Than Walking
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3 CYCLING BURNS MORE CALORIES THAN WALKING

If your goal is to burn calories for weight loss, a bike ride can be a much better use of your time than a brisk walk. Calculations from the American College of Sports Medicine, as reported by the New York Times, found cycling at 16 to 19 miles per hour burned about 850 calories per hour, as compared to only 350 calories by an individual who chose walking at a pace of four miles an hour. However, Dr. Hirofumi Tanaka, professor of kinesiology and director of the Cardiovascular Aging Research Laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin, also stated that any physical activity performed is better than none at all. “There is no easy answer to say which exercise is better, because it depends on individuals.”

Related: The New York Times: Ask Well: Is It Better to Bike or Run?

4. Cycling To Work Improves Your Productivity
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4 CYCLING TO WORK IMPROVES YOUR PRODUCTIVITY

Cycling makes good business sense. The U.K.’s Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service reports that 89 percent of employers who participated in the U.K.’s cycle-to-work program found cycling to work was an important factor for employee engagement. The program, which reduced the cost of a new bike by up to 42 percent for employers, proved immensely popular -- 97 percent of participating employers believed cycling to work was important for a healthy workforce. “Businesses have a real interest in encouraging their employees to cycle to work. It’s a virtuous circle,” said one proponent of the program.

Related: Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service: Two Wheels Good: How Cycling to Work Boosts Health, Engagement and Productivity

5. Cycling Is a Low-Impact Exercise
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5 CYCLING IS A LOW-IMPACT EXERCISE

If you want to avoid injury and keep stress off your joints, get on a bike. Cycling is low-impact, giving your body a workout without adding the pain of repeated jarring. Dr. Kirk Casey, family practitioner and sports-medicine specialist with the Argyll Medical Group, recommends cycling as an alternative to other high-impact exercises like running. “I consider cycling a low-impact activity,” says Dr. Casey. “It’s not weight-bearing, so it’s even lower impact than weight training.” Dr. Casey even uses cycling in his own routine. “I realized as I was getting older and older -- and having to work harder in the gym -- that biking was... kinder... on my body to keep me in better shape in the summer months for skiing in the winter.”

Related: Chico News Review: The Health Benefits of Cycling

6. If You Don't Know How, You Aren't Alone
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6 IF YOU DON'T KNOW HOW, YOU AREN'T ALONE

If you never learned to ride a bike, you’re not alone. In fact, one article published by Southern California’s KPCC Public Radio reports that as many as one in nine adults don’t know how. Los Angeles Nonprofit CICLE, or Cyclists Inciting Change Through Live Exchange, offers a free two-hour class to teach adults how to ride a bike. “I think that a lot of people have tried riding bikes or they’ve had experience maybe as children or as adults, and sometimes those experiences weren’t positive,” said Dan Dabeka, director of CICLE. He estimates he’s taught almost 200 people to ride in just three years.

Related: KPCC 89.3: Adult Bike Riding Classes in Los Angeles Show It's Never Too Late to Learn

7. Cycling Can Help You Test Your Limits
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7 CYCLING CAN HELP YOU TEST YOUR LIMITS

Bicycle racing is the perfect competitive fix. Racing is a fun way for physically fit individuals to test their physical and mental limits. There are several levels of competition for riders of different abilities, from local charity rides to the top levels of competition like the Tour de France. Bicycle racing is also about more than being the fastest on two wheels. “Just being fit is only the start in bike racing,” says Ann Marie Miller, an exercise physiologist, in an interview for the New York Times. “Strategy and power are a much bigger part of results.”

Related: The New York Times: For Would-Be Armstrongs, Some Bike Racing Tips

8. Cycling Makes You Happier
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8 CYCLING MAKES YOU HAPPIER

Ever notice a cyclist whizzing past you with a big smile on his face? Research produced by the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium found that commuters who cycled to work had a higher level of “commute well-being” than drivers, pedestrians and those who took public transportation. The researchers surveyed 828 participants to determine the happiest commuters in Portland, Oregon, and found that those who drove to work alone were the most unhappy. If your commute leaves you in the doldrums, trading your car keys for a helmet could be a considerable pick-me-up.

Related: Bike Portland: Bike Commuters are Happiest (and Other PSU Research Tidbits)

9. Cycling Can Take You Places Driving Can't
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9 CYCLING CAN TAKE YOU PLACES DRIVING CAN'T

A bike can take you places you’d never go in your car. Mountain bikers are routinely pushing the limits of where cycling is possible. “Bikepackers,” or mountain bikers that carry camping gear for long-distance trips, are a whole new segment of off-road cyclist. “Bikepacking has become a worldwide epidemic. I use that word because, quite frankly, it is infectious,” says Neil Beltchenko for “Bikepackers Magazine.” Beltchenko has watched an explosion in bikepacking’s popularity, mostly due to social media popularizing the sport. If you’re keen for adventure, bikepacking could be your new favorite form of recreation.

Related: Bikepacker's Magazine: The State of Bikepacking

10. All the Cool Kids Are Doing It
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10 ALL THE COOL KIDS ARE DOING IT

Bicycling has never been more popular, and major U.S. cities are seeing a huge boom for cycling. The Atlantic’s Citylab reports that the share of commuters who cycle to work tripled in New York, Chicago, Washington, San Francisco, Portland, Denver and Minneapolis over the past two decades. Even smaller cities are getting in on the boom; in Davis, California, 19.1 percent of the town’s 66,000 residents chose to bike commute, the highest percentage in the nation. Citylab attributes the rise in cycling to larger investments in the cycling network in major cities, including bike lanes, rail trails and bike racks. With cycling as popular as it’s ever been, you’ll be in good company when you head out for a ride.

Related: Citylab: The Rise of Bicycling in Smaller and Midsize U.S. Cities

What Do YOU Think?
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WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Does this article make you want to bike more or finally get that bike? What are some of the reasons you choose to bike over driving or walking? What are your favorite rides? Share your thoughts, comments and questions below!

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