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Bike Month

JUNE IS ONTARIO BIKE MONTH

June is Ontario Bike Month, and everyone is encouraged to join the celebration by including cycling in their daily routines. Read more about the health and environmental benefits of cycling, helpful safety tips and how you can get involved in Bike Month in your community.

Cycling is a lower impact form of physical activity for people of all ages. It is an aerobic exercise that helps strengthen the heart, blood vessels, and lungs and produces less stress on knee and ankle joints than other high impact activities like running.

The physical health benefits of regular cycling include:

  • increased cardiovascular fitness
  • increased muscle strength and flexibility
  • improved joint mobility
  • improved posture and coordination
  • strengthened bones
  • prevention or management of chronic disease

 

Riding your bike is a natural stress reliever as it releases "feel good" hormones (endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin) which have an impact on our mental health. Some common mental health benefits of regular cycling are:

  • decreased feelings of stress
  • improved mood
  • more energy
  • improved sleep
  • improved self-esteem
  • pride in physical accomplishments
  • improved in confidence in one's physical abilities

Riding a bike supports healthy local environments and climate action, which makes our communities safer and healthier for everyone. Here are some of the ways replacing car trips with bike rides will help to create healthy environments and reduce the impact of climate change to promote human health and well-being.

Cycling relies on pedal power, not fossil fuels. Burning fossil fuels contributes to climate change and air pollution, which both cause harm to health in Simcoe Muskoka. Unlike vehicles that rely on fossil fuels, cycling produces zero direct emissions. As a human-powered mode of transportation, bicycles do not produce harmful pollutants or greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Riding your bike is a powerful way to improve air quality and fight climate change to promote health.

Cycling helps reduce noise pollution. ‚ÄčLong-term exposure to environmental noise, like road traffic can cause a variety of health effects including annoyance, sleep disturbance, and negative effects on the cardiovascular system. Noise pollution can also change animals' habits and threaten their survival by confusing animals that rely on sound to catch their food.

More bicycle riding in a community means fewer cars which can lead to a safer and calmer road environment. Residents can take advantage of slower and less dangerous traffic to ride bicycles to explore and get familiar with their communities. Cycling also enables people to interact socially and feel more connected with their local community.

Active school travel (AST) refers to any form of human-powered, non-motorized transportation to get to and from school. Cycling is a form of AST in addition to walking, scootering, skateboarding or rollerblading. The benefits of AST include:

  • Healthier students
  • Less traffic and pollution
  • Safer school zones
  • Better academic performance

Click here to learn more about all of the important benefits of active school travel.

Cycling can be enjoyed safely when people understand the rules of the road and practice proper safety precautions:

  • Cyclists are advised to obey all traffic laws, signs, and signals, always ride on the right in the same direction as traffic and ride in single file, except when passing.
  • Wear a helmet.
  • Be aware of the weather.
  • Follow the traffic rules and look in all directions before entering a new space.
  • Don't assume traffic can see you.
  • Wear fluorescent and bright clothing and have lights and/or reflectors on your bike.
  • Using hand signals to communicate turns and stops to other road users is encouraged. 

With the increase in cycling activity this month, drivers are cautioned to slow down, watch for cyclists and remember to:

  • Leave at least one metre of space between your vehicle and the cyclist - more if local law requires it. A cyclist may need to avoid an obstacle, like a pothole on the side of the road. Leaving space allows everyone to remain safe.
  • Be alert and always remain focused. Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of collisions.
  • Check your mirrors and blind spots before turning, changing lanes, passing, or merging.
  • Consider using a technique called the Dutch Reach when opening your vehicle door. Use the hand further from door and reach across to the door handle. Swivel and check your mirrors and blind spot before opening the vehicle door to avoid hitting a cyclist with your car door.

Visit sharetheroad.ca for more information on how drivers can co-exist safely with cyclists. Click here for more information about road safety.

Throughout June, businesses and organizations often host community events to encourage individuals and families to cycle and to build public interest and support for cycling. Residents are encouraged to check out local community news sources and websites for details to see what is happening in their communities across Simcoe and Muskoka in celebration of Bike Month.

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