Cycling as medicine

I was riding with Zach up Gutierrez Canyon and he said, “If cycling was a pill, everybody would be taking it.”  That’s a neat saying, but after pondering it for a while, I thought cycling is way more fun than taking a pill or vitamin. The benefits of cycling are proven medically effective, and the evidence keeps mounting.

The Specialized Foundation uses cycling as a tool for children to achieve academic, health and social success through their Riding for Focus program.  The Foundation partners with Stanford University to better understand the effects of cycling on the learning process in children.  It’s pretty incredible to see the positive results of cycling becoming more visible.

Play is a huge part of learning!  Cycling play promotes mental health and overall wellbeing.  As a team sport, it builds social connections and a sense of belonging.  When we do high intensity intervals on the bike, the mind focuses on exercise and nothing else.  The goal-oriented part of the brain gets more oxygen causing a focus-shift away from the other parts that might be stressed.  This exercise-focused goal-orientation leads to mental relaxation.  The following study by Global Cycling Network goes into the details more.  Basically the same kind of exercise doctors prescribe for heart patients is also good for our heads, and more.

The bottom line is the value produced by cycling is so positively impactful, we’ll have to create a new economic model to measure it.  The rewards to the individual and society are only just beginning to be understood.  The bicycle is releasing so much human potential!  Kudos to everyone making an effort to harness it more, including the people riding bicycles.

“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.” –H.G. Wells

Further reading:
Kids are getting on bikes sooner and having more fun: https://bikeinitiative.org/2017/08/25/cycling-for-kids-strider-bikes-and-specialized-foundation/
Cycling as a national investment: https://bikeyogiblog.wordpress.com/2018/02/14/the-bicycle-is-americas-vehicle/
The Specialized Foundation: https://www.specializedfoundation.org

Cycling connects us with nature, too, which is good medicine

Creating a national bicycling policy

Here is my superstition: When you focus on creating more good things, you get more good things;  When you focus on solving problems, you get more problems.  —Jing Zhang, May ITE Journal, “member to member”

As we develop a national bicycle policy promoting the most sustainable form of transportation imaginable, we’ll do well listening to experienced cyclists and educators.  It is tempting to fit new knowledge around what we think we already know.   With cycling it helps to see things directly from the cycling perspective, and this changes our outlook.

References and Resources:
The video is from CyclingSavvy, founders of the American Bicycling Education Association (ABEA).  Subscribe for free to their newsletter for “empowerment for unlimited travel”.  https://cyclingsavvy.org/cycling-law/
Here is a guide for improving the conditions for walking and cycling, published and recently updated by transportation leaders from our government and private sector:  https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/ped_bike/ped_focus/docs/fhwasa17050.pdf
For more specific measures to improve mobility safety, see https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/provencountermeasures/
Traffic safety involves complex causality, but speed is a primary factor.  This study by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) includes recommendations for planners, engineers and various government agencies.  https://www.ntsb.gov/safety/safety-studies/Pages/SS1701.aspx
May’s ITE (Institute of Transportation Engineers) Journal is dedicated to “Making Active Transportation Safe” http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/G93877_ITE_May2018/

Always leave enough time in your life to do something that makes you happy, satisfied, even joyous.  That has more of an effect on economic well-being than any other single factor.  —Paul Hawken quoted in “The Artist’s Way”, by Julia Cameron