February is ‘Bike Month’ so I decided to pick cycling as the first post of this month. I grew up in Cologne, Germany where cycling is a common and safe mode of transport. Here in New Zealand there are fewer facilities and less infrastructure designed for cyclists, and generally fewer cyclists on the road.
What I discovered
I try to cycle instead of drive as much as possible because of it’s lower environmental impacts and as a source of exercise. Upon looking in to the other benefits of cycling I found a website that listed another 59 benefits: http://www.ibike.org/encouragement/benefits.htm. Beyond my personal fitness and the fact that it is an ‘environmentally-friendly’ transport option, I had not thought about why cycling is positive. But as the webpage points out there are many personal, community and wider environmental advantages – which is super!
What I also read about was the difference a bicycle can make to people in less economically developed countries. For people with no means of transport other than their feet, a bicycle offers mobility on a whole new level. They allow people to travel further and faster, meaning tasks that were previously time-consuming (walking hours to collect water or firewood) or physically taxing (carrying produce to markets) are made easier. The increased mobility and time also sometimes means being able to access school and other education institutions, healthcare providers or employment opportunities – leading to lives and livelihoods being transformed.
5 ways bicycles change the world: http://www.care2.com/causes/5-reasons-bicycles-can-change-the-world.html
I cycle to my daughter’s daycare (with her in a child seat on the back) and all the staff at the daycare and in the nearby buildings and facilities recognise us. Every so often, someone makes a comment about our cycling (that they think it is a good idea, that my daughter looks so happy when sh’es on the bike, that it is great to stay in shape, etc) and usually I just smile or say thanks, but from now I am going to agree, and perhaps nurture the idea that it is fun and something they could do too.
For this week’s action I also made a donation to Bicycles for Humanity, a grassroots movement where bicycles are sent to communities in developing countries – http://bicycles-for-humanity.org.