Cycling – Passion or Affordable Means of Transport?
In this article, we focus on cycling habits. The topic was approached through an online survey conducted on the questia.ro platform. The research study was active between February 20thand February 25th, 2019 and covered 999 respondents, with a +/- 3% margin of error when reported to the Romanian online population.
Ride for life, live to ride
Two hundred years ago, the bicycle was born when a German baron thought of a simpler way to travel around the gardens of his palace. The drawings of Leonardo da Vinci and some French artists-inspired him to build a two-wheeled vehicle which was originally made of wood. Since then, bikes have evolved, becoming lighter and more comfortable for both children and adults.
Cycling is a popular recreational activity but it has also become a means of transport. The habit of cycling has increasingly spread across the world and the bicycle market was evaluated at US$ 55 Bn in 2017. According to the forecasts, the market is expected to grow and reach nearly US$ 80 billion during 2018-2026, mainly due to the increasing popularity of sharing and rental services.
Commuting from home to the workplace and vice versa has been recognized as a stress factor. In order to avoid the stress and the concourse, people tend to use bicycles and roller skates, scooters or segway to travel to work.
Some countries have adopted cycling as the preferred form of transport. The most bike-friendly cities in the world are: Copenhagen, Utretch (Netherlands), Amsterdam, Strasbourg (France), Malmo (Sweden), Bordeaux (France), Antwerp (Belgium). Nine out of ten people in Denmark own a bicycle and travel on average 1.6 km per day. Denmark encouraged its citizens to cycle by developing a solid cycling infrastructure across the country of over 12.000 km of cycling routes which are separated by traffic lanes and sidewalks.
Even if you’re cycling when commuting to work, in the park or participating in certain contests, pedaling is surely going to bring you a lot of health benefits:
- Better brain function
- Higher disease resistance: studies show that people who cycle for 30 minutes each day take twice as few days of sick leave as compared to sedentary people
- Breathing fresher air: many people think that when you ride on the bicycle you inhale polluted air, but a study has shown that people who travel by car breathe 60% more carbon monoxide than those who travel by bike
- Keeps you in shape
- Saving space in traffic: a parking space for a car can be used to park 20 bicycles
According to a Forbes article, a research team of specialists from the University of Glasgow tracked 263.450 people from England, Scotland and Wales for five years and concluded that those who went to work with the bicycle or other type of transport that involved movement have a 41% lower risk of dying and a 52 % lower risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease than those who use public transport or their personal car.
Although cycling provides benefits to both individual and environmental levels, the habit is poorly used in many countries such as Canada, Australia, US or the United Kingdom, where trips with the bicycle account for 1% to 3% of total trips in comparison with 10% to 27% of trips in Denmark, Germany, Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden. One of the causes for such a low percentage of bicycle usage could be traffic uncertainty and one way to eliminate insecurity would be to use special bands for cyclists. A Canadian study has shown that the risk of injury on bicycle tracks was 90% lower than on community roads. Moreover, due to traffic insecurity, a less percentage of women choose to travel by bicycle compared with men.
Romania has slowly begun to discover the benefits of cycling as it has become a lifestyle especially for the younger generation. Let’s dive into the results to check how our respondents perceive the habit of cycling.
Cycling Through Data
Riding to work, to the mall or just taking a tour of the park is a simple way to combine exercising with your daily routine. Most respondents (88.1%) know how to ride a bicycle while 11.9% do not cycle or are afraid to do so.
Many of us turn to a hobby to forget about the issues and reduce the stress. So do many of our respondents who choose to ride a bicycle to get rid of the daily stress while also getting some fresh air, as 70.6 % of respondents rent bicycles for a walk through the park or city, thus combining physical activity with relaxation.
More than half of respondents (64.3%) own a bicycle either for a faster shift to work/college or performing leisure activities, while 19.4% own roller skates, 12.3% scooters, 6.6 % skateboard and 29.6% do not own any of these.
Out of those respondents who own one of the above means of transport (70.4%), more than half (54%) almost never use the bicycle/rollers/scooter to commute to work or college. However, when asked about whether they go with the bicycle/rollers/scooter to the park, most of them (81%) said they do so quite often.
Of those who practice cycling, 83.9% consider this activity improves general health while more than 70% cycle for burning calories and toning body muscles. More than half of respondents (65.5%) use cycling as a way of reducing stress while almost a half (49.2%) cycle because this way they can commute while spending less money.
Besides the known advantages, cycling also has certain disadvantages, which prevent some respondents from practicing this activity. The main disadvantages are related to the uncertainty in traffic, so 73.1% think the biggest impediment is missing cycle tracks, 68.9% - the inattention of other traffic participants and 67.8% - dangers on the road.
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