Image has a bicycle in the front and focus of the picture. The bike is on a dirt track, and there is a forest background behind the bike.

How Cycling Can Change your Life

Anyone who has ever driven to ANU will tell you how hard getting a park can be. The battle to find a car space isn’t the only downfall to driving to ANU, with the costs associated with running and maintaining a car often burning holes in students’ pockets. So why not switch to a cheaper and more sustainable alternative? Why not cycle to Uni?

I know what some of you are thinking: it’s just too hot to cycle. Well, first of all, it’s not going to be this hot in Canberra for much longer! And second of all, there are some pretty awesome benefits to cycling that I’m about to share with you.

Benefit 1: Physical and Mental Wellbeing

Cycling is a low impact form of exercise, whilst still being a great method for building muscle, strength, and stamina. As a mostly aerobic activity, regular cycling will do wonders for your heart, blood vessels, and lungs. Health benefits range from increased cardio fitness and muscle strength, to decreased stress, anxiety and depression. You’re likely to see some improvement in your flexibility and coordination too!

Benefit 2: Sustainable, low-carbon transport

Your average vehicle emits nearly five metric tons of CO2 every year. Yes, you read that right. To put it in context, this is equivalent to the amount of CO2 emitted by the average energy-consuming household over 140 days, or that emitted by a 13-watt light bulb run continuously for 43.91 years. As such, road transport accounts for over 12 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions produced in Australia – making it a huge contributor. This is far more than your average bicycle, which is an emission-free form of transport. So that’s one big sustainability tick for bike riding! What a wonderful way to reduce your carbon footprint, as well as local air pollution.

Benefit 3: Easier to get a ‘park’

Anyone who has ever had to park at the ANU at any time much later than 8:30am will know how difficult it can be to find a park. I’m talking circling through all the permit parking regions for 30 minutes or more. Sometimes you even have to give up, and go park off-campus and walk in. Parking at ANU can be a frustrating ordeal… an ordeal you can easily surpass with a bike! With over 40 bike enclosures holding over 2,000 spots, why not ditch the car for cycling instead?

Benefit 4: No need to pinch pennies

This is a no-brainer, but I want to highlight just how much you can save by switching to a bike. According to the Australian Automobile Association, a Canberran will spend on average around $7,700 per year to maintain and run a car. This is a lot more expensive than buying a new or used bicycle, which can range from around $50-500. You can buy a new bike from stores like Cycle Canberra in the pop-up village, and Big W in Canberra Centre. Or you can grab a recycled bike from the Recyclery down on the corner of Lawson Crescent and Lennox Crossing at the ANU. The Recyclery offers quite a few extra sustainability perks – in that it is a non-profit cycle business that employs people with disabilities to repair bikes for resale. When you purchase a recycled Recyclery bike, you’ll be helping support the great work they do. So if you are on a tight budget – or would rather save your money for something like travel – then a bicycle is definitely the way to go.

Benefit 5: Quicker to get between classes

ANU is a fairly small campus – and it doesn’t take too long to get from one end to the other… typically. But with the current redevelopments in progress, classes are spread far and wide between the remaining open buildings. This means the trail from class A to class B is likely a bit longer than usual – even taking around 20 minutes to walk it. And when you have 10 minutes to get between classes, this isn’t ideal! Thus, being able to save time by cycling between classes is definitely a plus!

And abandoned bikes…?

I know some of you might be wondering – how about abandoned bikes? Don’t they bring down the overall sustainability of cycling and fill up much-needed secure bike spots? It’s well known that many cyclers tend to abandon old bikes when they are no longer wanted… but ANU isn’t going to let them take up bike-spots for long, nor are they going to let them go to waste. In fact, any good-condition or repairable bicycles that aren’t claimed after three months get donated to charity. For ANU, this equates to around 140 bicycles donated a year. Any bicycles deemed unsafe for reuse are recycled, not put to waste or landfill – which is great to see!

So, for those of you who live nearby, I ask you – why not reap the benefits and give cycling to uni a go? Even for those of you who live too far away, there still might be a way you can help… Given the sheer number of bicycles donated in Canberra every year, the ANU Sustainability Office is currently looking for more organisations interested in reusing bicycles or bicycle parts. If this sounds like something your organisation would be interested in, give the Office an email at anugreen@anu.edu.au.