Cycling is a pastime I’ve long enjoyed and is still an activity I spend plenty of time undertaking outside of work.
It’s an excellent form of exercise which has known health benefits, such as improving cardiovascular fitness, and it enhances my overall wellbeing. As you can see from the photo below, from a recent morning commute in, I am blessed to be able to ride in such pleasant surroundings.
It’s Scotland’s Climate Week, a time to raise awareness of the global climate emergency and inspire meaningful action. So I wanted to write a piece about the positive impacts travelling on two wheels can also have on the environment.
I’ve chosen to commute to work as much as I possibly can for several years. The benefits of cycling far exceed an average level of fitness. I’m acutely aware that every time I choose to cycle to work rather than jump in my diesel vehicle, to cover the 20 miles to and from my place of work, I’m reducing my CO2 emissions thus helping to reduce my own personal carbon footprint.
In addition to this, by reducing the number of cars in my local area, even if just by one, this will reduce harmful pollutants in the atmosphere, improve public health and the environment and reduce traffic congestion which has an indirect impact on others by lowering their fuel consumption.
Having an impact, however small, is a comforting thought given the current state of our planet and the bleak future we are often reminded of. Carbon emissions are known to be the single most critical contributor to climate change.
As the earth’s temperature increases, the ice caps melt at an accelerated rate which has inevitably led to sea level rises. The Met Office reports a rise in sea level of approximately 20cm between 1901 and 2018. This might not seem much on the face of it, but it’s the biggest rise in the last 3000 years, and the biggest rise of all has been recorded in recent times with an increase by almost a factor of four from 1990 to 2010.
On top of having a reduction in my carbon footprint, there are several other significant benefits to travelling by bike. Aside from the obvious fuel cost saving and reducing carbon emissions, there is zero noise pollution from bikes making urban areas a much more pleasant and healthier place to live.
Promotion of cycling infrastructure encourages the preservation of green spaces and will minimise urban sprawl. My commute is currently receiving an ongoing significant improvement. This will keep me away from the dangers of riding in alongside rush hour traffic along a dual carriageway. And this gives me even more reason to carry on heading to work on two wheels knowing I will be doing so feeling much safer.
Finally, my hope is that I can become a positive influence, not only on my fellow colleagues to follow suit but also for the people who frequently pass me in their cars on their way to work. Perhaps I can inspire them to make a change themselves.
I understand that the points outlined here, such as reducing pollutants in my locale, or lowering fuel consumption of other road users, will be infinitesimally small in relation to my commute. But when considered in the main, and with the hope of encouraging others to travel by bike in future, I hope this relatively small benefit to my own commute will result in having a far bigger impact on the area I live and work in.
Hopefully it will go some way to the end goal of reducing global carbon emissions and mitigating climate change.
Access and Recreation Officer
Visit Climate Action Fife to get inspired about how you can make a difference.