One of the first things I did when I moved to my new city was hire a bike. Why?
Seeing a city by bike is ideal for settling in and learning your way around. You travel much faster than on foot and you notice so much more of your surroundings than when in a bus or a car. It’s more appealing to wander down small streets if they seem interesting, as you can quickly get back to the main road.
However, I soon discovered plenty more benefits to cycling, even after finding my feet in my new home.
A bike means that fewer places, especially in a small city like the one where I live, feel far away. For example, cycling to work takes me half the time that it would to walk – excellent for someone who values an extra few minutes in bed! Riding a bike also means you’re not restricted by bus timetables. For example, I planned to go to a concert on the other side of town. While my cyclist friend and I simply looked at a map, our friends without bikes had to deal with the complicated bus system.
Of course, there are obvious health benefits of cycling – a bit of extra movement as part of your daily routine can help you keep fit and healthy. Cycling on my way to work also makes me feel more energetic in the mornings.
Importantly, cycling also helps to reduce your carbon footprint. While cars pollute the environment, bikes are carbon-neutral. Furthermore, thanks to being petrol-free, bikes are cheaper to run, buy and fix than cars. Even if you don’t own a car, a bike can pay for itself when compared to the price of bus tickets.
However, be careful when cycling. Always wear a helmet, pay attention to other traffic and don’t forget your lights at night. Make sure you know the road rules, especially in a new place. In my case, this was a French city, so I had to learn to ride safely on the right-hand side of the road – rather than the left, as in Britain. Some cities are more cycle-friendly than others. And sometimes city roads are difficult or unpleasant for cyclists. Luckily, where I live now is pretty easy to ride a bike around, thanks to having lots of cycle lanes – and not too many hills!
Do you cycle?