At ecoeats, it’s no secret that we think bikes are great. But we’re not alone: it seems the whole country has fallen back in love with the bike. A massive 1.3 million new bikes were purchased between the beginning of lockdown and the end of June. For context, that means that almost 5% of all UK consumers purchased a bike in that period. Despite the unique situation we find ourselves in in lockdown, our love affair with the bike is nothing new. In fact, we’ve been in an on and off again relationship with our two-wheeled companions for over a century. Based on its proud history, we’re here to tell you why a bike should be more than a not-so-serious summer fling and become your one and only forevermore.
An interesting past
The modern safety bicycle came about in the 1890s. With a light-weight frame, chain mechanism and all-important comfier seat, it was a revolution. The penny-farthing, sometimes called ‘the bone shaker’, and its predominantly male, ridiculously dressed riders were out. A new, more diverse generation of cyclists was born.
In Victorian Britain, the bike helped liberate women and the working class, allowing a broad swathe of society to literally expand their horizons.
Old-fashioned expectations of women quickly faded as they abandoned restrictive corsets and dragging skirts and got on their bikes to experience the countryside and city streets on their own. This upset the established order somewhat, with physicians warning women that they should avoid cycling, lest they get 'bicycle face'. The risk of 'bicycle face' was deemed worth it by women of all classes, as the bike allowed them to have lives outside of the home, enjoying new careers and new hobbies. In short, women were able to ride straight through some of the barriers put in their way and pedal towards equality.
People living in rural areas also reaped the benefits of bicycles. These people were now able to seek new opportunities without moving permanently to polluted, overcrowded cities or trying to find the exorbitant cost of a horse. In fact, Steve Jones, a geneticist, has argued that “there is little doubt that the most important event in recent human evolution was the invention of the bicycle.” Why? Because bikes allowed people to travel further - increasing marriage opportunities and subsequently expanding the gene pool. It turns out that the bike really is a love machine!
Green : the colour of love
The environmental benefits of ditching the driver’s seat and hopping on your bike are well known. This is not new information. In the later twentieth century, as we learned more about the consequences of human induced climate change, the bike became a potent symbol for the environmentalist movement. Even today, riding a bike makes a statement and makes you part of a rich activist tradition.
In the 1970s, university campuses all over the world were hubs of environmental activism. During this time, students got seriously into their bikes. The so-called “bike boom” in the USA was seen as a threat to the dominance of the automobile. Students played on these concerns in their protests. On the 22nd February 1970, a group of San Jose College students got a brand new, never-driven Ford car and held a dramatic bike-filled funeral procession, buried it in a hole in the middle of the campus and planted a lawn over the top. The first ever Earth Day occurred just two months later and university students once again put the car on trial. Literally. Students at the University of Michigan held a mock trial for a 1959 sedan. The car was sentenced to death and smashed to pieces with sledgehammers.
If we put our sledgehammers down for just a moment and look at the science, the environmental benefits of the bike speak for themselves. Making a car produces around 313g of CO2, and a whopping additional 271g of CO2 is produced per a KM driven per person. Meanwhile, manufacturing a bike only produces around 5g of CO2 per KM ridden. If the rider eats the typical European diet, they’ll add another 16g of CO2 per KM ridden - but only compromise their carbon savings if they eat an all-beef diet. At ecoeats, we’ll help you fuel all that pedal pushing with delicious, diverse cuisines from our valued partners.
In 2018, 6% of all miles travelled in world cities were completed on bikes and e-bikes. If we can raise this number to 14% by 2050, we would see an 11% reduction in CO2 emissions overall. Delivery emissions are all part of this, which is why ecoeats strive to offer zero emissions delivery and will help you calculate your carbon savings with every order.
Riding a bike has long been a way to show how much you love our planet. So get on your bike and declare your love for the environment, joining a community of millions across many years. Alternatively, have one of our ecoriders bring you something tasty from town and be part of making history from the comfort of your own home!
Bikes are one of the most financially accessible forms of transport available. While the surge of bike purchases during lockdown was partly due to new regulations on exercise and an increase in free time, it also helped people avoid public transport and eliminate commuting costs when money was tight.
Historically, bikes had a massive impact in Britain, as they opened up longer range transport for working class people who could not afford a horse or, later, a car. Horses and cars were not one-off costs, as both required fuel after the initial purchase. Bikes, notably, did not incur these extra costs. The mobility provided by bikes was not limited to physical travel, but included liberation from old ways of thinking and living.
At ecoeats we seek to hire people from diverse backgrounds and with diverse experiences, something that is made possible by the affordability and freedom offered by bikes. When you decide to ride with ecoeats, you can turn your bike into a money-making machine. We ensure that our ecoriders are given a fair deal and set ourselves apart from the competition by banning delivery with petrol cars and never prioritising ecoriders based on their mode of transport (whether bike or electric vehicle). If you enjoy life on two wheels and want to be paid for it, find out more about becoming an ecorider right here.
A bright future?
We hope this humble history has inspired you to get on a bike in the near future. To make the 2020 bike boom last, we need as many people as possible to show that this isn’t just a casual crush, but that it’s something serious and we’re all in. There are many good reasons to get a bike, and that’s without starting on the benefits for your physical and mental health!
But perhaps the best reason of all to get a bike? You could become an ecorider and help us achieve our mission of zero-emissions delivery and a brighter future for all.
With all our love,