6 reasons to ride a bike

Cycling season is starting up on P.E.I., with Bike to Work day falling on Friday. Whether it's for fitness or to be a bit kinder to the environment, there are lots of good reasons to ride a bike. We asked cyclists on P.E.I. why they pedal.

Get where you need to while exercising and saving money, say proponents

Travis Saunders says biking can be better than your health than walking because it 'naturally forces you to do a bit of an interval workout.' (Jesara Sinclair/CBC)

Cycling season is starting up on P.E.I., with Bike to Work day falling on Friday. Whether it's for fitness or to be a bit kinder to the environment, there are lots of good reasons to ride a bike.

We asked cyclists on P.E.I. why they pedal.

1. It's efficient

One of the big appeals of cycling is that it is a way to get exercise while also getting somewhere you might normally drive.

"You're kind of killing two birds with one stone and exercising and maybe commuting or getting to where you need to go," said Brett Doyle, owner of Outer Limit Sports.

He added that if you decide to cycle instead of driving, you're also saving money on gas and reducing your environmental footprint.

Brett Doyle of Outer Limit Sports says using cycling to commute is 'killing two birds with one stone' — it allows you to get where you need to while exercising. (Jesara Sinclair/CBC)

"It's something that I can do that fits in my lifestyle," said Travis Saunders, an assistant professor in the Department of Applied Human Sciences at UPEI who commutes by bike regularly.

"We're fortunate to live somewhere where really if I was to drive to work or bike to work it really doesn't take that much more time to bike … but it means that at the end of the day I've gotten in a half hour or 45 minutes of activity in the day that I really wouldn't have gotten in otherwise."

2. It's good for you

Saunders' research focuses on the impacts of sedentary behaviour — and he said there are clear benefits to cycling regularly.

"The biggest take home is that people who cycle to work or who cycle to get around in their daily life — it extends your life expectancy by nine months … and that's even taking into account the small risk of injuring yourself."

Saunders is also an avid cyclist, and commutes regularly on two wheels. (Submitted by Travis Saunders)

Saunders said cycling is a good way to improve your overall fitness because it "naturally forces you to do a bit of an interval workout."

"When you're walking somewhere — no matter if your walking up a hill or down a hill it's always a pretty constant rate of intensity, but if you're on a bike every time you come to a stop sign, when you start pedalling again, you've got to pedal hard for five or 10 seconds to get back up to speed. Every time you go up a hill, you've got to pedal pretty hard," he explained.

He said those intervals of intensity help improve your overall aerobic fitness.

3. You probably already know how

Many people learn to ride a bike as kids, and Doyle said it's a skill that sticks with you.

"Some of my earliest memories, really, were on a bike and I think that's probably the same for everyone," he said.

Learning to ride a bike is a skill that sticks with you, says Brett Doyle. (Shutterstock)

"We see people come in here all the time where they rediscover it. The old saying — you never forget to ride a bike — it really is true. And, if you've biked as a kid and you want to pick it up again, it's never too late to start to get you on the right bike so you can enjoy it."

4. It's not all or nothing

Saunders said there are low rates of active transportation users in P.E.I. — something he attributes to how rural the province is.

He said that even if your commute is too big of a distance to ride a bike daily, you can still park a comfortable distance away and cycle the rest.

One of the most compelling reasons to ride a bike? 'It's fun,' says Mike Connolly. (Jesara Sinclair/CBC)

"Even when people live far away, that doesn't mean that you can't use active transportation," he said. "You just need to think it through a bit more."

5. It gives you a break

"It gives me the exercise that I should be doing anyway because I'm in an office all day, and it's just a nice, environmentally friendly, good way of exercising and it's a chance to slow down and unwind a little bit too," said Graham Miner, the director of P.E.I.'s Highway Safety Division and an avid cyclist.

"There's also something to be said at the end of the day to take all the energy that they have built up over the day and put it into those pedals."

Justin Ellis (right), seen here with his business partner Mike Robertson, says riding a bike is both a way to be alone and a way to be social. (Sacred Rides P.E.I.)

Justin Ellis, an avid mountain biker and co-owner Sacred Rides P.E.I., a mountain biking tour guide service, agrees that biking puts him in a good head space.

"I really like just kind of the solitude, being out in the woods, there's a certain kind of intensity to it when you're kind of just flowing down a trail, but it's also a very social sport — almost comparable to golf, except for more active," he said.

"You're out there with friends, you stop to have a chat and you usually enjoy a beverage after you're done."

6. It's fun

Riding a bike doesn't "feel like exercise," said Patrick Cheverie, warranty manager at Sporting Intentions and a regular cyclist. 

"You're going through the roads, you're going down the street and you can see different goals in the horizon," he said. "You don't even realize you're getting in shape."

Patrick Cheverie says he forgets he's exercising when riding a bike. (Jesara Sinclair/CBC)

"Most of all, it's fun," said Mike Connolly of Cycling P.E.I. "It's just fun to bike."

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About the Author

Jesara Sinclair

Journalist

Jesara Sinclair is a journalist with CBC P.E.I. Prior to Charlottetown, she worked with CBC in Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto. E-mail: jesara.sinclair@cbc.ca.