An ode to bike riding: the most liberating, cost-effective way to get around

An ode to bike riding: the most liberating, cost-effective way to get around

Image by Linda Xu
Words by Tom Parker

The health benefits associated with bike riding are there for all to see.

I’ve been a member of Melbourne’s bike riding brigade since I moved here from Ballarat in 2012. I don’t have a car, never had one.

I’m not an environmental aficionado; I’m not riding because I’m trying to save the planet or anything. I do it for the health benefits and the financial benefits.

I would’ve saved thousands over the years because I ride instead of drive. Apart from the bike purchase and infrequent servicing, the costs are slim.

I’m not ignorant of the fact that the government is giving me the thumbs up – society is often a numbers game and bike riding provides balance to the transport ecosystem.

I’m not oblivious to bike riding’s baggage either. Cycling is fuel for road rage, it can be dangerous and is sometimes not practical – my trips home from the supermarket are often topsy-turvy.

There’s also a cost associated with the venture, and I’m cognisant that not all of us are lucky enough to be able to afford a bike.

Nevertheless, the benefits are there for all to see and with bike riding in some areas of Melbourne up by as much as 300 per cent, according to statistics found by The Agehave you thought about going for a spin if you’re not a regular cyclist?

As part of the current Stay at Home restrictions, while gung ho cyclists won’t be able to come together in their weekend pelotons, you can still ride your bike recreationally with one other person or with those in your household.

Melbourne has a myriad of serene bike trails that are playgrounds for alleviating stress. Take to the Merri Creek Trail and relax as the steady stream provides a tranquil backdrop or wander along the Yarra Trail past the Collingwood Children’s Farm and Dights Falls.

Outside of that, there’s the Capital City Trail that will take you on an adventure through Royal Park or if you’re out east, then ride along Gardiners Creek Trail where you’ll explore the leafy suburbs of Burnley, Kooyong and Glen Iris.

I’m in no way encouraging you to start riding two or three times a day because we must stay at home. But when lockdown gets a bit much and you’re in need of a breather, consider bike riding alongside your regular jog around the block. It will do you good.

Your tires might be flat if you haven’t been for a spin in a while, so if you’re in need of some inflation, most bike shops will pump your tires for free. Otherwise, there are some public pumps around the place – two I’m immediately aware of are out the front of Brunswick Baths and out the front of Samson Cycles on Barkly Street in the same neighbourhood.

If you can’t access either of these options, hit up the comments on the Facebook post and I’ll even give them a pump for you.

If the danger associated with bike riding is cause for concern, then steer clear of roads and stick to bike trails. Not only will you be away from cars but you’ll also be amongst nature – trees, leaves and grass are always the best environments for stress relief.

Keen to find some other avenues for peace and stress relief, check out our piece on places to go to when lockdown gets a bit much.

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