What are the benefits of riding to work and how can you make it easier?

Sustainability is understandably a hot topic just now, with governments, businesses and individuals all seeking ways to create a greener future for us all. Commuting became a distant memory for millions of workers during the pandemic, but now, with lots of people making a return to the office, this is the perfect time to reset and adopt better, healthier habits.

Riding to work is nothing new, but more employers and employees are waking up to its benefits. Not only can riding benefit the individual’s health and wellbeing, it’ll also help to protect the local environment. Employers may even stand to benefit, with riding shown to have a positive impact on brain power and productivity. 

In this post, we’ll explore the benefits of riding to work in greater detail, and highlight a few ways you can make bike commuting even easier.

What are the benefits of riding to work? 
  • Improve physical fitness and mental health. We’re all aware that riding is a great way to help keep your body fit and healthy, but did you know it can also help to support your mental wellbeing, too? One study reveals that riding is the second best form of exercise for a lower mental health burden, just behind participating in team sports.  
  • Improve productivity. Riding has been shown to improve brain function, with it increasing blood flow to the brain by 28% compared to resting, according to one study. As a result, this can help you to arrive at work in a more positive frame of mind, and help to improve productivity throughout the day. 
  • Helps the environment. If you’re passionate about sustainability, riding is a great way to play your part and help create a greener local environment. By replacing a car for a bike, not only will you be saving on harmful emissions, but if more people chose to cycle, it’d reduce congestion on roads, helping to cut pollution even further. 
How to make riding easier 
  • Use an e-bike. E-bikes are gaining popularity across the country, particularly since the 2012 legislation was passed which introduced guidelines around using e-bikes, in line with European standards. An e-bike works like a traditional bicycle, but offers the added thrust of a battery-powered motor, to take some of the strain out of your commute. Read more about e-bikes here.
  • Be organised! Riding to work will generally take a little longer than public transport or a car, meaning you’ll have to be organised to give yourself as much breathing room in the morning as possible. Be sure to pack up anything you need the night before, and also leave heavy items at the office where possible, to save you carrying them on your commute. You should also make sure to pack some food for the office, to give you the energy for that evening ride home.
  • Make use of company facilities. You’ll want to arrive at your desk feeling and looking fresh, so particularly after a longer ride in, you’ll likely want to have a wash and get into a change of clothes. If your office doesn’t already cater for active travel, ask your employer whether it would be possible to invest in some equipment and facilities to encourage more people to ride to work. Or, see if there is a local end of trip facility, where your employer could arrange for employees to make use of the changing facilities.

Even small changes like some showers and changing rooms can go a long way. It’s also helpful to consider how or where you’ll keep your bike during the day. Employers should look to include some safe storage facilities on-site, to give their pedalling personnel peace of mind that their bike will be secure during the day.

To sum up

In this post, we’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to exploring the potential benefits of riding to and from work. It may seem like a major lifestyle change, particularly if you’ve been driving or getting public transport for many years. But why not try riding just one or two days a week at first, before building yourself up to a bigger commitment? You’ll likely feel the benefits almost immediately.

Article by Ross Hansen

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A beginner’s guide to pump tracks

Brisbane has some of the best pump tracks in Australia and often you’ll find them filled with all types of riders of all abilities wanting to have fun. We’ve put together a beginner’s guide to pump tracks, so keep reading to become pump track ready!

Pumptrack © Brisbane City Council 2020
© Brisbane City Council 2020

A pump track is a continuous track made up of rollers, jumps and berms that loops back onto itself allowing for some serious fun. For beginners, just rolling around the track makes for a fun experience and for more advanced riders, pump tracks allow for some serious skills training. Some of the best asphalted pump tracks in Brisbane are found at:

  1. Bracken Ridge: Telegraph Rd, Fitzgibbon
  2. Darra: 58 Monier Rd, Darra
  3. Browns Plains: Waller Park, Waller Rd, Browns Plains
  4. Macgregor: D.M. Henderson Park, 434 McCullough Street
  5. Meakin Park: Meakin Rd near, Queens Rd, Slacks Creek

If you’re looking for a full-body workout and want to develop some handy cycling skills, a pump track is perfect for you. Learn how to ride undulating terrain, improve your cornering, maintain momentum and improve your visibility skills.

When should I go to a pump track?

These pump tracks can be super busy on the weekends. If you want to avoid the crowds, go early when it’s a bit cooler or late when the lights are on. Just remember that the Brisbane City Council states that children under 12 must be supervised by a responsible adult and that safety is the responsibility of the user. Long pants, a shirt and covered shoes should be worn as well as appropriate safety equipment. We suggest conducting a quick bike check to ensure your ride is safe before taking on the pump track.  

If you’re new to pump tracks and want to get the most out of the experience, follow these basic tips.

  1. Balance your weight on the pedals – keep the ball of your foot just in front of the pedal spindle
  2. Control your speed – Not enough speed and you won’t get enough momentum. Too much speed and you’ll pay the price.
  3. Start with your arms – pull up the rollers and push down the rollers. This is the first part of the wave motion or ‘pump’
  4. Add some leg power – bend your knees as you bike moves under the roller. As you move down the back of the roller push down hard and feel the bike pick up speed.
  5. Focus on one part of the track you feel most comfortable with, and repeat…
Bicycle Queensland will be at the Bracken Ridge Pump track on Saturday the 6th of March delivering 30-minute skill lessons for children aged 5-15. The lessons cover a range of bike education helpful for the younger ones including, helmet fitting, ABC bike checks and basic bike control.
Don’t stop there! Get out and explore all the different rides Queensland has to offer. Find out more in BQ’s Where to Ride page.

Why should we ride e-bikes?

2020 has become the year of computerisation. Automated groceries, non-contact restaurant delivery and endless zoom calls are just a couple examples of the new cultural norm. Don’t get us wrong, we love technology and all the wonderful things it enables in a COVID-19 world. But all this computerisation has many people longing to embrace wholesome, exercise-based hobbies. Enter the e-bike; the perfect concoction of 21st technology and the humble bicycle.

Increased awareness of health risks and the positive benefits of exercise has prompted people to ‘move it or lose it’. The global uptake and market domination of e-bikes are creating a much needed, all-inclusive solution to these sedentary ways.   

Technology can defeat us, anchoring communities in front of screens and removing the need to go out and explore. However, improved technologies mean an affordable, sleek e-bike that will create a long-lasting alternative to car travel is a possibility. Currently, the global e-bike market is estimated to be valued at USD 15.42 billion and growing. So, it is inevitable that more people are going to be riding e-bikes tomorrow and well into the future.

Is riding an e-bike cheating?

Many lycra-wearing, coffee drinking socialites might argue that e-bikes are cheating, but sufficient evidence suggest the opposite. A recent study surveying e-bike use in seven European cities found that e-bike users get more exercise (almost 400 minutes more!) than those who ride normal bikes. In addition, they are also much less likely to drive a car or catch public transport than their non-e-bike counterparts. Many people who ride e-bikes also ride normal bikes resulting in higher weekly activity levels.

Photo Source: https://www.dysonbikes.com.au/ 

Are e-bikes good for the environment?

With a growing need to reduce congestion on our roads and promote alternative modes of transport, battery electric vehicles (BEV) are presenting themselves as the go-to option. Higher manufacturing emissions created through battery manufacturing are quickly offset by emissions savings from riding the bicycle. Simply, it’s a trade-off. Greater emissions during the production of BEV’s versus higher emissions from the use of petrol vehicles. One report from the Union of Concerned Scientists stated that, along with the oil-saving benefits of having fewer petrol cars on the road, a grid comprised of 80% renewable electricity could see an overall reduction of 60% in emissions created by manufacturing and consumption.

In seven European countries similar research found that of the companies that adopted pilot e-bikes, each country saved on average 7.9 tonnes of C02 per year. How long it takes to realize these benefits depends on where the owner plugs in and how the owner reuses or recycles the batteries. For example, the lithium-ion battery at the end of a vehicle application still has over 70% of its original capacity to store energy. Conclusively, yes, e-bikes are good for the environment and emit 23 times less carbon per year than most cars. To fully nerd out on these algorithms, visit Professor Brian Rose’s article on such matters. He uses mathematical and numerical models to study climatic processes on a global scale.

Are e-bikes a good fit for everyone?

With e-bikes now being made for every style of riding, with the right budget, there is an e-bike for everyone. For people affected by illness or impaired by other health conditions, the introduction of the e-bike has been a lifesaver. The added power as the pedelec motor engages makes carrying a load or going uphill doable. Trends in Europe show that e-cargo bike sales grew by 60% in 2019, boosted by the inclusion of cargo e-bikes into the FedEx and UPS fleet. Not only is this good for the industry, but it could mean one less delivery truck on the road.

If we can get the Queensland government to issue a rebate of $500, like that of Paris, we’ll be in an even better position to get the perfect e-bike. Cargo bikes can carry children or carry large loads helping to completely remove the need for a second vehicle. This saves money and contributes to a reduction in the projected $30 billion in costs of traffic congestion by 2030 (Australian Automobile Association). If you’re not riding an e-bike, praise the person that is. The choice to ride an e-bike benefits not only yourself but also reduces Co2 emissions, helping the environment become cleaner and greener.