Raise your spirits, get healthy and be green: Ride a bike
By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover: Visitor Services Manager
“I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives a woman a feeling of freedom and self-reliance, “said suffragette Susan B. Anthony when she was speaking about the rising popularity of bicycles.
Early in the 19th century, riders in Germany and France began to enjoy using the bicycle for recreation and practicality. A hundred years saw the evolution of the draisin, velocipede, quadracycle, boneshaker and the pedal bicycle. Biking around the world increased, and later the recumbent bike, the BMX, and the mountain bike were developed.
As the increased use of automobiles caused more accidents, some countries made a conscious choice to promote and enable the use of the bicycle for everyday needs. Today, citizens of Denmark and The Netherlands use bicycles more than any other country followed by Hungary, Germany, and Slovakia.
A bicycle is a compound machine made-up of several simple machines: lever, pulley, screw, inclined plane/wedge, wheel and axle. Two famous scientists, Orville and Wilbur Wright got their start in aviation by studying bicycles and imagining the possibilities. In 1903, their flying machine designed in a bicycle shop made the first airborne flight at Kitty Hawk, NC.
The ecological benefits of using bicycles for daily trips are many including the reduction of noise and harmful emissions. Energy used to make one car could make one hundred bicycles.
Health benefits of cycling out-number many other activities. A one hundred, thirty-five pound woman going twelve miles in one hour can burn 488 calories. One-half of American workers live within five miles of their jobs. Pedaling twenty minutes each way twice a week would burn 3,000 extra calories or approximately one pound of fat each month. While putting less stress on knees, ankles, and spine than running or walking does, bicycling tones the upper and lower body.
Regular bike exercise improves energy levels by twenty percent and decreases fatigue by sixty-five percent. It protects the heart by lowering blood pressure and LDL cholesterol. Even the immune system is strengthened by the activity.
Mental health and general outlook are also improved by getting outside in the fresh air and speaking to people along the way. Bicycling can also be a social activity to enjoy with friends.
Port Discover received a grant, “Get on Your Bike and Ride,” through Vidant Health and Albemarle Hospital Community Benefits Program. Eight bikes and helmets have been given away to children in the community at various events.
Our educators have developed a Bicycle Basics and Safety Kit which can be checked out by teachers in grades K-5 to teach rules of the road, proper helmet use, and safety. A summer camp (June 23-27) will feature bicycle fun and safety. Port Discover’s annual Earth Day Festival (April 26) will include a bike rodeo, bike spin art, a group ride through town, and a bike power demonstration.
Raise your spirits and come take our new quadcycle for a spin around town!