With gyms and other fitness arenas working on limited capacity at the moment, fitness freaks are unable to keep up with their fitness regime. Many people fear travelling in public transport since it's jam-packed. Many businesses are under pressure and the economy of our country has hit rock bottom. The solution to all the problems mentioned above and the silver lining of this difficult situation is- Cycling.
According to All India Cycle Manufacturers Association, India is the second-largest producer of bicycles in the world with 2.2 crore units sold every year. There has been a steady rise in the trend of cycling but it was restricted to just urban areas. Rural areas account for half of the bicycle sales even as the people there shifted to scooters.
Everyone around the world is adjusting to the ‘new normal’ and cycling fits in very well with the new lifestyle. While many businesses are facing huge losses due to Covid-19, the bicycle industry has seen a huge boom. Demand for bicycles increased in May after the government eased us out of the strictest Covid-19 lockdown. Just go to any bicycle store and you will see a long line of customers waiting to buy a bicycle, or many times come out empty-handed due to unavailability.
Many factors have contributed to the bicycle boom. One being, the government now makes money through petroleum products at a large scale. This makes motorised transportation far more expensive than before. People are looking for options that are cheaper than motorised transportation to save money. Not many people are a fan of walking even for short distances and thus the only possible option is a bicycle.
The other reason for the bicycle boom is the host of physical health benefits it offers. Inactivity of the people during the lockdown has led them to becoming lazy and lethargic. The long hours at work do not help either. People are stuck in front of a digital screen for maximum hours during the day. With the gyms being shut, people are unable to get a dose of exercise. And we all know that taking a walk with a mask on is quite difficult. The safest alternative that remains is cycling. The benefits of cycling are endless. It is not only good for your body but also for your mind. It helps in boosting your immune system which is quite essential these days. It promotes muscle building and enhances lung health. It also increases your cardiovascular fitness and joint mobility. In short, it provides a whole body workout. You get all the benefits while maintaining a safe social distancing with cycling.
Not only is cycling healthy for our body, but it is also healthy for the environment. The population is increasing and so is the pollution. Many cities around the world have adopted cycling as the main mode of transport to tackle the challenges of urbanisation. Cycling is green and doesn’t affect the environment negatively. It is also said that the skyrocketing prices of petrol and diesel are an initiative by the government to lessen our dependence on fossil fuels. If the majority of the population turns to cycle as the main mode of transportation then it will considerably lessen our carbon footprint. There will be fresh air to breathe and less pollution. There are many cycling groups that plan various cycling trips around the year. This also helps to form new connections and friendships.
We were on the path to unlocking the country and suddenly there has been a surge in the number of Covid-19 cases. This makes people sceptical of travelling in public transportation. Be it trains or buses, everything is crowded making it unsafe. The best option to travel while maintaining social distancing is a bicycle. There are minimum chances to come in contact with others and is also a great exercise.
The bicycle boom could have a lasting impact well beyond the pandemic as well. But a major hindrance in keeping the popularity of cycling alive is a lack of safety of cyclists. Without bicycle lanes being separated by stripes or traffic cones, there is an impending danger of a rise in traffic accidents. Motorised vehicles have dominated the streets until now and there will certainly be resistance in reallocating the road space from cars to bicycles. Not only is a safe biking infrastructure important; cyclists, too, are responsible for their own safety. Riding with a helmet, following the traffic rules and riding with a reflector is a must for one’s safety.
All in all, it is safe to say that cycling impacts us positively from all the corners. It is a safe option to commute as the threat of Covid-19 looms over us. It offers great physical and mental health benefits. It reduces the carbon footprint and makes the environment greener. Not only is cycling beneficial during the current situation but in the long run as well. The ‘new normal’ post-pandemic will be a lot different and we should create a place for cycling in our new lifestyle now.