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Surprising Things I Learnt Through Bike Commuting This Year

By Adam Marsal

Cycling to work is not only about saving precious minutes or staying away from crowded means of public transport. Commuting by bike has more advantages to offer, whether apparent or hidden, not just for those doing it for a certain period. Would you agree with what I’ve learned?

The kindness of most drivers I’ve encountered was a welcome surprise for me. Anyone commuting every day will inevitably meet some angry people here and there but the majority coexists in a perfect symbiosis. I’m glad to live in Prague where people are far from being as rude as in the past.

Cyclist in Prague
Bike commuting offers many advantages. © Profimedia

Safety lights do work. Equipped with a white front light on the handlebars and two red flashlights fitted to my bag and the seat post, I could ride confidently without worrying about being overlooked by passing drivers. I believe that clear visibility contributes to better communication between cyclists and drivers who can then locate you even when traffic gets busier.

Bike commuting to my office is twice as fast as if I were to use public transport. I stay in a 120-year-old house that sits about 15 minutes away from the tram stop. When riding my bike, I’m cutting this distance in no more than two minutes. With no waiting for the connection, I was able to reach the door of my office in maximum 20 minutes. If I took the tram, it would take me in about 30.

Because of cycling, I’m regularly meeting people I would not have met when taking public transport. Many times over the summer, I caught a glimpse of a familiar face on the street. Have I been sitting in the tram, there would be no chance to stop but I can bring my bike to an instant halt and greet my old friends or even family members and have a brief talk. These moments were even more precious under the circumstances of the lockdown when pubs were closed and many relationships interrupted.

Cyclist in Prague
Thanks to cycling, you meet more people. © Profimedia

Despite taking just short journeys every day, I got physically stronger. The two daily trips accounted for up to 40 minutes a day, which is more sports activity than most people can afford due to work, family duties, other hobbies, etc.

Also, my concentration and productivity grew as I cleared my head every morning. With blood circulation boosted, I opened my computer eager to sort out my tasks, avoiding temptations to browse social media as usual. The best about cycling is it can develop resistance against stress. Mentally recharged from a convenient ride, I learned to surpass any indications of anxiety or working pressure. It was the same after I arrived home because 20 minutes of cycling were perfect enough to erase any annoying thoughts about work out of my head.

Prague Cyclist
Cycling helps with stress management. © Profimedia

Despite the fact there’s no speed limit for bikes on the pedestrian zone at Prague’s Old Town, I found it more convenient to slow down to match the walking pace of the people around. This way, the potential tensions disappeared, which contributed to the overall positive feeling from the ride. I learnt that people tend to accept bicycles if they don’t perceive them as accident risk. Note: please, do not mix up pedestrian zones with sidewalks. It is allowed to cycle through a pedestrian zone and, obviously, forbidden on the sidewalks of Prague – like anywhere else.

Staying in touch with the technical state of my bike daily, I could get the bike out of the cellar every morning without fearing that something significant might go wrong. I knew all about the tyre pressure, the condition of braking pads or the chain.

And what about you? Is bike commuting your way to move across the city?