Bicycles can get us from point A to point B and their potential is certainly not maximised in cities like Cape Town. “Utility cycling” refers precisely to that: using a bicycle as a means of transport rather than for sport or leisure. The advantages, as we many of you already know, abound.
Cycling is an easy and cheap way to get active. You don’t need a gym membership and you can use the commuting time you would have spent driving or on public transport to exercise too!
Quality of life and community
Cars cause division in the urban fabric. Cities that operate at the scale of people – where cycling and walking are the preferred ways of getting around – are more vibrant and connected. Think about it: when you drive, you tend to go shopping outside your own neighbourhood, which means you never get to know your neighbours. Instead of stopping and chatting, you spend the majority of your time looking for parking and stuck in traffic. Cycling is quick, easy and better for your social life.
Cars emit carbon dioxide and other global warming gases. Bicycles do not. The only energy they require to move comes from your legs. Ultimately, if more people cycled, climate change would be further away. We’d also have better traffic flow and our roads would be quieter and safer.
Furthermore, cycling is easy on your pocket and keeps your travel times predictable.
Making the change
As we say in our policy brief Stuck in my car: how to drive less and not die trying, a first step would be to just be mindful of opportunities that would remove even one car trip per week. Some ideas:
- If you have one, get your old bike serviced and ready to go again.
- Cycle to a shop near your home or a meeting near your office, and compare the time it took to driving for the same trip.
- Consider cycling in a group / ‘bike bus’.
- Support groups lobbying for cycle lanes and other forms of cycling infrastructure.
Learn more about the benefits of cycling at Bikes Welcome.
This content was made possible through the support of the WWF Nedbank Green Trust.
Photo by Rory Williams