Two arguments for biking. Also, Sam finds one obstacle removed at her new university

Argument 1: It’s faster to bike. 

According to all of the data on our smartphones–here’s looking at you Google Fit!–in urban environments biking time beats car travel time hands down

Argument 2: It can also help you get enough movement in your day. This week there were many headlines proclaiming that fewer than 20 percent of Americans meet the recommended advice for amount of physical activity.

From the NPR version of this story: “With a few exceptions, the advice in the new guidelines is not so different from what we were told in the 2008 guidelines. But, here’s the trouble: Only about 20 percent of Americans meet them. This lack of physical activity is linked to $117 billion in annual health care costs, according to a report published Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association that lays out the new guidelines. The new guidelines marshal a growing body of evidence that documents immediate benefits of exercise such as reduced anxiety, improved sleep and improved blood sugar control, and long-term benefits (of regular physical activity), including cognitive benefits, and significantly lower risks of heart disease and certain cancers.So, how much physical activity do we need? On this point, the new guidelines haven’t changed: Adults need a minimum of 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity.”

For me, even if I do nothing else I meet these goals through bike commuting. 

What are your barriers to biking? One of mine has always been that I don’t like coming out at the end of the day to a wet, snowy bike. Once things get slushy I’m less likely to bring my bike into my office. Besides my workday often starts at other buildings and I’m arriving just in time for meetings.

I love that Guelph has abundant (like the one pictured here, centrally located, isn’t the only one) covered bike storage.

Covered outdoor bike storage at Guelph. Thanks Google for the black and white image.
cycling · fitness

Cycling versus walking: Both are good but riding’s better

If you’re cyclist, you probably saw this good news story in your social media newsfeed , shared with delight by cyclists everywhere: New study suggests health benefits of cycling to work are staggering.

“We found that cycling to work was associated with a 41% lower risk of dying overall compared to commuting by car or public transport. Cycle commuters had a 52% lower risk of dying from heart disease and a 40% lower risk of dying from cancer. They also had 46% lower risk of developing heart disease and a 45% lower risk of developing cancer at all. Walking to work was not associated with a lower risk of dying from all causes. Walkers did, however, have a 27% lower risk of heart disease and a 36% lower risk of dying from it.”

I was happy that it answered the question about the health benefits of cycling versus walking. Often studies proclaim health benefits for cycling but don’t compare them to the health benefits of other modes of self-propulsion. Lots of runners, for example, were frustrated by the story which profiled 80 year old cyclists with the health of 20-somethings but didn’t say anything about the anti-aging effects of running and walking.

But what about stress? You have to enjoy it, surely, or at least not be terrified by it. My fave thing about cycling home–when the ride is long enough, right now I’m too close to campus–is how relaxed and happy I feel when I get there. I’ve always associated that with the  health benefits of cycling. But if I was a fearful cyclist, maybe I’d still choose to walk.

I mean, right now I’ve got the world’s shortest bike commute, just 1.5 km. But I can ride without the knee brace so it’s any easy choice.

How about you? Biking or walking? Why?


A challenge: How far can you ride in October?

Make a pledge and set your distance for October.

We both like challenges here at the blog and this one is easy to adapt to your own level. It’s a “set your own goals” challenge so the idea is just to say what you’ll do and do it. You can set the bar low, if like Tracy you’re a fan of “doing more by doing less” or “aim high and fail but still do lots more than if you hadn’t aimed high” person like me!

Blog reader and cyclist AB has signed up for “700kms in Oct (which is 23 commutes to work, which is every work day + 1 more day..).” I pledged to ride 400 km during October, which works out to be 20 commutes at 12 km a round trip, plus 4 weekend 40 km rides. You can sponsor me here.

It’s the Australian Great Cycle Challenge! Yes, it’s spring there and fall here but I love autumn riding and I figure they’re not a bad match in terms of riding conditions. Also, lots of readers are actually there.  Yes, it’s an Australian charity but since it’s for medical research I don’t actually care where in the world the good work is done, just that it is done.

“Great Cycle Challenge encourages you to get on your bike this October to fight kids’ cancer. You just register yourself, set yourself a ride target and then pedal as much as you can throughout October.

You can ride as an individual or create a team with your friends, cycling club or workplace – it’s up to you!

Your kilometres and progress will be displayed on your personal rider profile page (created when you register) and you can customise your page with photos, videos, a personal message and even nominate a person to ride for.

Thousands of lycra-loving enthusiasts across Australia will be pedalling to raise funds to develop treatments and find a cure for childhood cancer.

Give your car some alone time this October…register for Great Cycle Challenge today!”