by James Stevens-Cutler, LiveLighter campaign coordinator


Has your trusty two-wheeled steed been hibernating in the shed for the last few months? Or was the last time you rode your bike back in 2002 on your way home from school? Either way, there’s never been a better time to get back in the saddle. Chilly mornings are giving way to warmer starts across the state, the days are getting longer, and it’s raining less and less (well, for most of us anyway).

If you’re still in need of a little extra push to get back on your bike, October is WA Bike Month.

If you’re still in need of a little extra push to get back on your bike, October is Bike Month.

Bike riding is so hot right now

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has seen an explosion in bike riding in Western Australia, with 14% more bikes spotted on the road (and cycle paths) in 2020 compared to 2019. In Perth and Peel, 486,000 people (about one in four residents) ride their bikes weekly, and in 2020 more and more people were riding on the weekends for recreation and leisure. If they’re anything like me, these people are all experiencing that subtle sense of joy that comes with riding your bike.

Two people riding a bike on a bike path

Benefits of getting on your bike! [Alt title: My love letter to cycling]

Whether going for a short ride to a local park or café, or planning a longer journey like a day out with family or friends, there’s something about that freedom of pedalling along at your own pace through the open air. I particularly like the cruising speed you can find on a bike; much quicker than walking, a bit faster than running. You also still get a nice amount of time to take in your natural surroundings. While it’s slower than driving, it’s much easier to avoid traffic and parking problems on a bike which saves travel time! Being an active mode of transport, riding will also get your blood pumping, boost your energy levels, and it is a great way to move more.

Whether going for a short ride to a local park or café, or planning a longer journey like a day out with family or friends, there’s something about that freedom of pedalling along at your own pace through the open air. I particularly like the cruising speed you can find on a bike; much quicker than walking, a bit faster than running. You also still get a nice amount of time to take in your natural surroundings. While it’s slower than driving, it’s much easier to avoid traffic and parking problems on a bike which saves travel time! Being an active mode of transport, riding will also get your blood pumping, boost your energy levels, and it is a great way to move more.

Riding your bike is satisfying for other reasons besides being an invigorating activity. There are a range of economic, environmental and community benefits that we can all be happy about when we ride instead of drive, such as:

  • Cost-saving by reducing the amount we spend on petrol, car maintenance and parking
  • Pollution-free transport that doesn’t contribute to greenhouse gas emissions
  • Reducing the number of cars in our neighbourhoods, leading to a safer road environment

Feeling fired up and ready to get back on a bike?

Here are a few great ways to get started (and some tips to motivate you!)

Ride to the shops

Try riding for small shopping trips and save the hassle of parking. Take the scenic route there, and remember a backpack or paniers to cart your groceries home.

Accessorise

There are lots of things that can make riding more comfortable, and that make great prezzies (for yourself or others ??). Some of our favourites are bike lights (did you know it’s illegal to ride without these at night?), a new helmet (or a hat for your helmet?), basket, bell or bike lock (almost 10,000 bikes are stolen every year in WA!).

There are lots of things that can make riding more comfortable, and that make great prezzies (for yourself or others ??). Some of our favourites are bike lights (did you know it’s illegal to ride without these at night?), a new helmet (or a hat for your helmet?), basket, bell or bike lock.

Keep it ship shape

If your bike’s been gathering cobwebs you could take it to your local bike store for a quick service before your first ride. Learning some basic bike maintenance is a good life skill that will save you money and increase the life of your bike. There are loads of videos online that can teach us to change tyres, clean and lubricate the chain and tighten the gears and brakes.

If your bike’s been gathering cobwebs you could take it to your local bike store for a quick service before your first ride. Learning some basic bike maintenance is a good life skill that will save you money and increase the life of your bike. There are loads of videos online that can teach us to change tyres, clean and lubricate the chain and tighten the gears and brakes.

Bicycle care

Explore

Explore your local bike path network so you can have a safer and more bike friendly ride. For people in WA, you can find a great collection of maps over hereGoogle Maps also has a 'biking overlay' which shows you the local bike routes in your area.

Explore your local bike path network so you can have a safer and more bike friendly ride. Google Maps also has a 'biking overlay' which shows you the local bike routes in your area.

Rethink your commute

Riding to work has loads of benefits! A 5-10 km ride will take 15-30 minutes and could even be faster than driving! Remember that active commute time is doing double-duty. It’s your commute time AND your physical activity time! It can also help you arrive at work energised, and give you time to de-stress before arriving home.

Riding to work

Pedal with your peloton

Exercising with others is far more enjoyable and motivating, and combines the benefits of socialising and physical activity all into one. Get your grupetto together and ride to that café you’ve been wanting to try out.

Safety first

Loving lycra isn’t law when enjoying a ride, but there are some road rules you need to follow to make sure the experience is fun and safe for all.

So what are you waiting for? Use Bike-tober as your impetus to rediscover the charm of cycling.


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