Cycling has always been seen as a healthy activity. One of the major journeys of childhood is the progression from owning one’s first bike to learning how to ride it. It is seen as one of the major steps along with when the baby speaks for the first time, then walks for the first time and then has their first day at school. Often the first bike purchased will be fitted with stabilizers which will only be removed when parents are confident that the child can cope with being able to hold their balance. The bike is then the major mode of transport throughout childhood into the late teens.
In previous generations the use of the bike would continue into adulthood when people could not afford to purchase motorized vehicles. It was handy as an economic form of transport but as soon as a family became more affluent the trend had been to put the bike away and either take the car, the bus the train, or even the tube to get to their destination. However, today things have appeared to have turned full circle with more people than ever are riding a bicycle. This has been happening both in people’s leisure time and also as a mode of transport for getting to and from places of work.
The desire of people to become healthier has seen a rise in cycling in many forms. The beauty of cycling is that if the cyclist does not fall off, it is relatively injury free. It is a low impact activity that puts little pressure on the body yet at the same time is a great way to increase an individual’s cardio-vascular fitness. Stationary bikes have now been installed in health clubs and gyms. The recent craze has been the introduction of spinning classes. An instructor faces the class on his bike and, accompanied by music. will set the tempo of the class. These highly intensive workouts are aimed at strengthening the participant’s stamina.
The popularity of these classes has resulted in many people taking to their bicycles outdoors. The recent Olympic success of Britain’s cyclists has resulted more people than ever joining numerous cycling clubs around the nation. The clubs enter competitions and hold weekly rides that give members the opportunity to cycle pre-planned routes in the company of other members. The increase in the popularity of cycling has certainly been helped with the effects that technology has had on the sport. The modern day bike is far lighter and easier to ride than the older generation of bike, which has made it a far easier for those who are new to cycling. It is also seen as something as a fashion item among the affluent middle classes to be seen riding the best bicycle.
More environmentally conscious towns and cities have also helped to fuel the popularity of cycling. Within towns and cities there are now bike lanes which are both pedestrian and vehicle free plus bike routes. London has even got a Santander Cycles hire scheme where people can visit one of the 70 docking stations and rent on of the 11,000 bikes. All that needed is a credit card and a person can pick up a bike at any time and then return it to any one of the other docking stations.
With the continuing theme of the major cities aiming to keep traffic and pollution out of the central areas this trend is likely to continue. Manufacturers have even started producing fold away bikes that can be stored on trains for the long commute in to the city, Once arrived the commuter can then take to their bike to complete the journey. The popularity of cycling looks certain to continue. There is no doubt of the health related benefits the activity brings and currently the activity seems to be favored by everyone.