Why and how use a bicycle each day?
By 2020, 60% of the world population will live in cities, according to different studies. If urban air pollution is already a problem, with this increase in population, the situation would be unsustainable. Data published in El Motor claim that a Smart, the least polluting vehicle according to the publication, emits 95.71 grams of CO2 per kilometre travelled, while the most polluting is an emission of 330.74 grams per kilometre. Now let’s think about the CO2 that a bicycle emits, there is no comparison.
It doesn’t matter which reason we choose, but we must make the bike part of our mobility: either to take care of the environment or for our health, for in addition to breathing cleaner air, when pedalling we will be contributing to doing the 150 minutes of exercise, at least, that the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends for a week.
There are no excuses. Society must become aware of the great problem posed by pollution and, in the effort to change citizens’ mentality, everything helps and here companies can play a big role.
Companies are getting onto two wheels
Paying workers to go to work by bike helps, and the first company to prove it in Spain was Ingeteam. Since 2016, this electrical engineering company has been encouraging workers at its headquarters in Albacete with one euro per day to come to work by bicycle.
Before starting the incentive, according to their data, only five employees used their bikes, a figure that increased in one year to 40. The engineering company’s calculations say that these 40 employees who use their bikes to work do 70,000 kilometres per year (8 kilometres per day per person) and doing it by bike avoids the emission of 11,500 kg of CO2 into the atmosphere.
This same initiative has been joined since then by other companies such as the Liberty insurance company, which offers its employees 37 cents for each kilometre done on their trips in working hours.
Banco Santander has also done something in the pedalling world. In 2015, it agreed to sponsor the city of London rental service for a period of seven years with Transport for London (the organisation that manages the bicycles). A cost of 8.5 million euros per year plus an annual reserve of 1.3 million to promote the business and reach new customers through rewards, offers and incentives, made the sponsorship the largest in the world granted to a public agency. Thanks to this, the number of bicycles and stations has increased and a mobile application has also been implemented that allows faster and easier use of the service.
Don’t forget your safety
The truth is that riding a bicycle through big cities entails its risks. Although there are cities such as Buenos Aires, a city that has a large cycle path through the side streets, separated from the traffic by physical separators, in most cities cyclists have to share their space with vehicles. Therefore, any measures we can carry out in the field of road safety will help.
In Madrid, the Municipal Police provides free classes on traffic regulations, tips … and practice rides are also made in different surroundings: road, bike path, pavement or park.
How you have to get around by bike
Fit yourself out. Do not forget your helmet. Although this will not avoid accidents, it will protect you if you have one. If what stops you is where to keep it when you get off the bike, one possible solution is the Eco Helmet, a folding system made with paper and a recyclable material that makes it rainproof. This is an invention by Isis Shiffer, a 28-year-old industrial engineer, which is on sale for five dollars. Another piece of equipment that you should not underestimate if you ride at night is the reflective waistcoat. Although it is not mandatory for going around the city, it will make you more visible to cars.
Use the centre of your lane … and make yourself respected. If you stay at the edge of the lane, you encourage the cars to overtake you and not respect the minimum safety distance when overtaking. As a cyclist you have the same right to use the streets as a car. Also if you ride close to parked cars, a distracted driver may open their door, with the danger this entails.
Use the right lane. The left lane is the fast lane, try to avoid it unless you are going to turn left. When you do, get in lane well in time.
Indicate what you are going to do. To cycle in the city you must feel confident to be able to take your hands off the handlebars when you need to signal your movements. Stretch your right arm out horizontally at shoulder height to turn right and raise your left arm if you want to turn to that side.
Look for safe routes. If you can choose a busy street or a quieter street, choose the quieter. In many cities there are initiatives by experienced cyclists who offer their help to beginners when looking for routes. For example, at bike to work you will find routes to cycle to work safely.