Pre-COVID-19 life is much different than life 10 months into the pandemic. School has gone virtual, work life has been completely turned upside down or put on hold for the moment. The moment being the development and distribution of a Coronavirus vaccination. Exercise routines have changed dramatically. People have been forced to rethink or rediscover their home environments to use as fitness centers.
With that being said, one exercise mode — bicycling — has not changed during the pandemic. If anything, the use of a bicycle for either commuting to and from work or for fitness purposes has actually increased. Why? Partly because the decreased presence of traffic on the road due to pandemic conditions. Additionally, some bicycle riders recognize that there is little need to wear a mask while riding a bicycle. Which is actually not technically true. Although, the length of interaction with others while riding a bicycle is minimal which greatly reduces the chance of spread of COVID-19.
Riding a bicycle offers numerous health benefits. From greatly reducing stress benefits to the release of endorphins — “the runner’s high.” Another benefit worth mentioning is that people who have underlying health conditions can ride a bicycle a little each day to help turn around their health. Just riding 20 minutes each morning four to five times a week can change what seems like an irreversible path toward health doom.
One benefit of riding a bicycle that is not often mentioned is the opportunity to connect with the community in a unique manner. While driving a car is convenient and reduces time, there is a barrier (i.e., glass window or metal wall) between the driver and other drivers on the road. Which reduces the opportunity to talk to others.
Additionally, the opportunity to connect with the landscape is possible while riding a bicycle. Sites and sounds which are apparent on a bicycle are not possible while driving at speeds of 40 miles per hour or greater — in a car. These are missed opportunities to connect with the community — take a pulse by listening to the surrounding street activities, business activities, community activities on a daily basis. The connection is an important one that many people miss on a daily basis.
The missed opportunities are also missed avenues by which to spread advocacy about community issues. Connecting with the community is a time to work on personal, family, and neighborhood health on a local level. Typically, the local level health is often disregarded by being overshadowed by the ever-increasing presence of federal problems.
The time has come to return to the local level. Connect with each other and community. The time has come to return to riding a bicycle. Not all commutes or leisurely trips require or offer the opportunity to take a bicycle. A car is needed in certain times. Although, with the decreased presence of cars on the road at the moment, the opportunity is rich to take up a bicycle and ride around your city.
Try to go for a small (i.e., less than) 20 minute ride and see if a smile does not appear on your face after. Not to mention the question which will inevitably arise after a short rise: Why don’t I ride a bicycle more often? Give it a try!