Treepoints Monthly Challenge: May
On your bike!
Did you know that May is National Bike Month? Established in 1956, National Bike Month is a chance to showcase the environmental and social benefits of cycling. The weather’s getting ever warmer and the days ever longer, so for our May monthly challenge, we’re challenge to you to get on your bike.
It’s a fun fact that in Amsterdam, there are more bicycles than people. And for good reason too. This shouldn’t come as a big surprise, but cycling is a great way to stay healthy. It’s also much better for the environment than driving. Read on for our May monthly challenge and the social and environmental benefits that come with cycling.
The benefits of cycling
Cycling has numerous environmental and health benefits which make it a great alternative to driving:
- Less emissions. There is no need to burn fossil fuels to power your bike. Reducing the amount of petrol and diesel burnt from cars means less emissions going into the atmosphere. In turn, this means a reduced contribution to climate change.
- Less pollution. If more people cycled, there would be less traffic on the road which would reduce noise and air pollution. There would also be less traffic jams as a result. Traffic jams add to pollution when cars are idling in traffic.
- Less cars. With people cycling more, there would be less need for cars and less people would feel the need to buy a car. As a result, this reduces the demand for cars to be manufactured.
- Physical and emotional health. Cycling is proven to reduce stress levels, boost your mood, and is also a great way to improve your cardiovascular endurance.
The environmental impact of cycling
Cycling’s carbon footprint is approximately 21g of CO2 per kilometre, based on a life-cycle analysis of the total emissions (from product production, operation, maintenance and disposal). That’s less than walking and getting the bus, and less than a tenth of emissions from driving.
What’s more, about three-quarters of cycling’s greenhouse gas emissions occur when producing the extra food required to “fuel” cycling, while the rest comes from manufacturing the bicycle. This gives an indication of how low the actual footprint of your bike is.
In fact, if cycling’s popularity returned to 1940s levels (when the average Brit cycled 6 times further per year than today) and these trips replaced car journeys, that would create a net saving of 7.7 million tons of CO2 per year in the UK. That’s 6% of the UK’s total emissions from transport.
This would contribute to reducing the UK’s total carbon emissions, which will play a part in meeting the UK’s net zero emissions target.
If you’re interested in reading a detailed analysis of the environmental impact of cycling, we recommend checking out this article.
Your cycling options for the May monthly challenge
So you’re convinced that cycling is a great way to help the environment and your health and you’re ready to take the next step. Amazing! Here’s a summary of your options:
Cycle hire schemes
If you live in a city or large town, this can be a great option for spontaneous cycling and short trips. There are tons of different options, including Santander Bikes, Lime, Jump, and many more. They work on the basis that you pick the bike up either from a docking station or random street location, and then you pay for the amount of time you want to use it. Watch out for hidden costs, like the price jumping up after 30 minutes, and if you plan on using them regularly, you may want to consider a membership scheme which will reduce the cost.
This article has a useful comparison of London’s hire bike schemes.
Buy a bike
If you think you’re going to become a regular cyclist (good on you!) you’ll probably want to buy your own wheels. The price of bikes can vary hugely depending on what you’re looking for. Road bikes are great for speed, whereas mountain bikes are better for countryside cycles, and hybrid bikes are, as you’d expect from the name, somewhere in between.
We’d always recommend buying a second hand bike, firstly because it will be cheaper, and secondly because it’s much better for the environment as no new products are manufactured.
If you’re not on a budget, check out The Bike Project. They support refugees by donating second-hand bikes, which they repair with the proceeds from selling bikes. If you have an old bike, you can also donate it to them and they’ll fix it up and pass it on to refugees.
Share a bike with your flatmates / neighbours
If you only cycle occasionally and don’t want to pay for a new bike yourself, you might want to get a bike to share with your flatmates or neighbours. Most bike locks come with several keys, so you can take it in turns with the bike. Just make sure you’ve discussed what you do if you both need it at the same time, or if it gets stolen.
Bicycles with a bit of a boost, as we like to think of them. These e-bikes are becoming increasingly popular, especially in hilly cities, as they give you a bit of help. Some studies suggest that they are in some cases better for the environment than regular bikes as they use less energy to ride, so don’t require you to eat as much food for energy, which comes with its own carbon footprint. However, this depends on the energy makeup of the national grid in your area. The more renewable energy that’s being used to recharge your bike, the better.
Ready for the May monthly challenge?
So there you have it. There are plenty of reasons why May should be the month that you get cycling. If you take up the challenge, post a picture on social media of you completing the May monthly challenge and make sure to tag us (@treepoints.green). We’ll give you a shout out and maybe even a little reward!
Check out other green living advice for ways to make your life more sustainable.