Whoever thought the bicycle would make its comeback! With the fear of the pandemic grappling what’s left of the society, people who once would opt for public transport now steer clear of the crowds. Those trains and buses and metros are now not the best option. In fact, it's their counterpart, the bicycle, that’s making it big in the business. Cycling to work may now be the new norm.
Cycling to work is picking up
In fact, experts say a 200% increase in bicycle orders was seen overseas, by those engaged in emergency services. In another article by Business World, a TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute) study from last year estimated that if bicycles were to substitute the two and four-wheelers used for short-distance trips, it can result in an annual benefit of Rs 1.8 trillion i.e. 1.6 per cent of India’s GDP (for the year 2015-16).
So if you’re planning on resorting to this old-school mode of transport, here’s your guide to everything you need to know!
Benefits of cycling to work
The fact that you’ll be well away from the crowds commuting at the same time, tops the list of reasons why you need to seriously consider cycling to work. If fear is the one thing that’s stopping you, don’t let it. Casualties do happen when there are motor vehicles involved and this is just like any other. In fact, around 100,000 people die every year as they suffer from a lack of physical activity. You’re going to be doing yourself a hell lot of good by pedalling away. There’s Nature to accompany you on your early morning expeditions to work. Away from the rush and noise, cycling provides you with some well-needed peace and quiet that gears you up for the day ahead.
Yes, it is safe!
If you’re obsessing over the fact that you’ll end up knocking someone down or be knocked down yourself, there’s also a chance that won’t happen. Keep to the left lane. You don’t want to be in the lane that has the speeding vehicles! Also, don’t rush your way. If you’re cycling to work, leave home well in advance so that you aren’t driving like crazy and ending up in an accident. Learning the road language could be a great way to start off. Always flash your lights or use hand gestures to signal your next move.
Hey! Limiting those distractions on your way can be a brilliant way to just focus on what’s ahead. Once you're a pro in the cycling field, you could always admire the beauty around. But if you’re just starting off, you’re gonna need all the pairs of eyes you can get!
Whatcha gonna need
Once you’ve overcome the fears, let’s focus on the main stuff. Hybrid bikes are what you’re gonna need if you’re looking at long-distance journeys. These provide a real stable position, so that you aren’t left slumping or slouching or in slumberland. But there’s also another option, that appears to be so perfect, it’s almost like God crafted it perfectly to suit our drives.
An electric bike! It’s faster, better and a huge blessing in the disguise of wheels! Though you may end up spending more on this, it sure does serve your purpose. With the ability to get ahead speed of 25 km/ph, it can traverse 4 km in 10 minutes, which is pretty good. The pedal boost of an e-bike gives you the freedom of exerting your muscles just as much you’d like, and thus you could use it as a substitute for all the activity you’re lacking.
No sweat! Now that’s what we’re talking about. The perks of having an e-bike are that you aren’t drenched in sweat after cycling to work. You could walk in smart as a boss! A long-range battery, and zero petrol, makes you feel less guilty about using up all those fossil fuels. It’s a win-win!
Once you have a bike, you’ll need a helmet and some lights. A helmet is a must, as it could save you in case of an accident. Plus, there are some that look really cool, so you might as well, glam up your look. It’d be great if you have some bike lights, especially if you’re planning Rendez-Vous at night. You don’t want to knock down a cat during your late-night drives.
Worried someone might steal your bike?
Ever heard of a bike lock? It can work wonders. You don’t want to be sitting at work and obsessing about your bike that’s parked a mile away. Once you have it locked, there’s no one who can whizz away on your precious companion.
Cycling in India: Dangerous?
We’re kidding no one, when we say that the roads of India are scary for a beginner who’s just getting his gears right. Statistics tell us that 16 fatalities take place on the roads every hour, and cyclists are the most vulnerable. According to the Transport Research Wing (TRW) of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, close to 25,000 cyclists have been killed between 2011-2015. This could be owing to the fact that India lacks well designed cycle tracks and a majority of the population lacks road sense.
While cycling is dangerous in this country, cyclists manage to survive and well enough too! If given a choice, between a local train at rush hour and a cycle ride, many would choose the latter! Maybe once you’re experienced on the 2 wheeler, you’ll gain a lot more confidence. You can do this by going on some practice runs on the weekend, riding your bicycle with one hand, etc. Another huge ‘note to self’, is not to rush when the roads are wet. As the monsoon is already here, the roads are no less than a water slide. You don’t want to go skidding and have slush all over you. So take your time champ. With the pandemic changing everything, here’s one development we’re certainly glad of. Cycling to work is much cooler than you ever expected.
Insurance for cyclists
In some good news that’s here for cyclists, India’s Digit Insurance has launched an insurance product for bicycles. This will function similar to the motor insurance and will cover bicycles from theft and accidental damage. In case of partial damage, the insurer will cover the repair cost. Now that you don’t have any excuses to not opt for the bicycle, go get those pedals in motion today!