Beyond the obvious physical and mental health benefits that cycling brings, riding your bike has the potential to create a significant positive impact on society. From promoting sustainability to building communities, let’s explore how cycling can be a force for good.
Improve public health
As a physical activity, cycling offers a huge number of health benefits. Those who ride their bike regularly – no matter how they ride, or what they’re riding for – will enjoy improved cardiovascular fitness, increased muscle strength and enhanced joint flexibility. All these health benefits impact you long term too, reducing the risk of obesity and heart disease over your lifetime. Your overall impact on the health system will be dramatically reduced, and you can consider yourself doing something positive for society as a result.
In the UK, tens of thousands of deaths each year are linked to air pollution. For everyone who chooses to ride their bike each day, one fewerperson contributes to overall air pollution levels. So, when you ride your bike, you’re not only benefiting your own health but you’re benefiting the health of the people around you too.
Strengthen communities, and build new ones
Cycling brings people together, there’s no doubt about that. Cycling clubs, community rides, and cycling events create opportunities for social interaction and camaraderie. These gatherings transcend age, gender, and background, creating a sense of togetherness and belonging. When people ride together, they may encounter a challenging circumstance or navigate something that improves their confidence – doing so with other people further strengthens those bonds. When people ride their bikes together, they build friendships and forge connections that extend far beyond their ride.
Cycling is an ever-evolving sport, and with it, so are its communities. Efforts to get more women into off-road ridinghave led to a boom in women-led community cycling groups. The effect of these communities can be seen elsewhere, like with more women taking part in certain cycling events. Young girls seeing women in the sport can change their perception, leading to a more positive uptake of sports from a young age, and leading into adulthood. Society can only benefit from a fitter, healthier community!
Riding for a charitable cause
Perhaps one of the more obvious ways you can directly impact and improve society is by taking part in a charity bike ride. Cyclists can participate in established long-distance rides to raise awareness and funds for all sorts of social causes, from medical research to disaster relief or poverty alleviation. These sorts of rides not only generate financial support, but they draw attention to important issues that may be close to the cyclist’s heart, encouraging more widespread participation, and potentially increasing funds further.
There are a number of ways a cyclist could go about raising money to support a charity. This might be through:
- An organised charity ride: where all the logistics are taken care of – though you will likely have to raise a minimum amount to cover costs. You might even receive training, and you’ll meet others with a similar motivation taking part in these events.
- Independent charity ride: If you have a particular charity or cause that is close to your heart, then you could organise a ride independently and choose to raise money for them. Logistically, this will be more challenging but you set your own financial goal and undertake a ride that is challenging to your personal experience. You may choose to raise money for an existing charity or you may champion an independent cause, using your bike ride to raise awareness of it if it is not something that is already supported by a charity.
Empowering vulnerable communities
All over the world, bicycles play a crucial role in empowering vulnerable communities. They are a means of relatively accessible transport, providing access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunities that might otherwise be out of reach due to limited transportation.
Organisations and initiatives exist that distribute bikes to underserved areas and make a direct impact on poverty reduction, improving social mobility. The Bike Project is one such organisation that takes donations of bikes, refurbishes them, and then donates them through referral partners such as refugee charities and mental health charities.
Cycling is not simply a means of getting from point A to point B, it has always been a force for positive change. Whether sustainability, community, advocacy or empowerment, by embracing cycling, individuals and communities can ride for a cause, transforming a simple bike ride into a powerful act of social impact. As world leaders seek innovative solutions to society’s challenges, the simple act of pedalling can contribute to a happier, healthier future.