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Add some health to your bike
Even though cities with a lot of traffic make the use of the bicycle quite difficult, the number of people using it as their mean of transport has not stop increasing in the last years. This shows an increase in solidarity and ecological awareness amongst people, whom are taking the bike for its daily journeys more often than before.
Moreover, the bicycle is also contributing to improve the health of its users. The bicycle is a source of health in every sense; it reduces the risk of heart attacks and the "bad cholesterol" levels as well as it increases the "good cholesterol" levels; cycling also make the muscles of the body and the back get stronger reducing the pain; it improves the immunologic system, increases the lung capacity and cycling even improves the mind's health. The regular practice of moderate exercise means an immediate benefit in the cyclist health, and the absence of associated CO2 emissions to the atmosphere from bikes helps to get a cleaner air to breathe.
The culture of cycling in the city is quite recent in our place. The general idea of cycling is simply taking a bike and start pedaling. The campaigns to encourage the use of the bicycle and the ads based on the "be healthy" and "be greener" concept have obviously had their desired effect in Barcelona. But now it is time to spread the real "culture of cycling". This should be a culture that needs to promote more civility in the traffic and that should avoid health problems due to not been careful enough with the use of the bike itself. There are already some problems amongst non-expert cyclists, but on the other hand, we have ergonomic designs and more convenient technologies for the every day use of the bicycle. But we think that still there's is a long way to go in, apart from just encouraging citizenship to move around on bike, to promote a new culture for cycling around the city, a culture that stimulates health on the bike.
Custom-made bicycles or recycled bicycles
When we think of a tool, there is a high difference between the ones made for a professional and the ones thought for the amateur DIY (do-it-yourselfer). And so with the bicycle is the same thing. It might be because, traditionally, bicycles have been thought as a leisure vehicle for an intermittent use that the most valued aspect is the economical one, instead of the adaptation to the user. In Spain, the customer's size is not as important in the purchase of a bicycle as in other countries. So it would be necessary that, like in a clothes' shop, the shopping assistant not only helped us to choose a suitable design for our purposes, but that they would assess us about the quality and check that is right for the size of the person. With this assessment we could get the maximum comfort for the user. So, in a bike shop we need to get help in choosing the right bike for our body, independently if it is a new one or a second hand one.
If we want that bicycles become an every day means of transport, we need to value the comfort. Although current problems with robberies , we need to consider that a recycled bicycle might not be the best option if it does not have minimal ergonomic and technology requirements to avoid unnecessary injuries to the user.
When we use the bicycle as a means of transport we need to value not only the best offer in the market, but also a few criteria of suitability, specially, with respect to the ergonomic aspects and the facilities so that the daily use of the bike does not have an option to be the origin of injuries.
The role of the seller is basic because some of them are the only ones that can advise some buyers that do not know the world of the bikes that much. What is important is that the seller of a bicycle's shop assesses what the customer asks for, his or her needs and which is the best option thinking that the wrong choice of bike might mean a "stop" in its use or even it might generate physical injuries.
There are also pieces of advice (not infallible) that can highly minimize the risk of theft. In this aspect, bike's shops also have an important role. Marking the frame of the bicycle with methods such as the Registry of Bicycles is a security element against robbery that should be considered.
Weak points of the bike for the health
Like any other sports practice, to keep the body ready for physical exercise, it is recommended to use the bike at least for forty-five minutes three days a week.
Although the bike is one of the most efficient machines regarding the energy used and the energy given, it has two weak points. We place our body on an object to which we give our energy to make it move. This means a biomechanical effort of our muscles over a system of mechanical transmission. So to make this effort the position we adopt to transmit this strength is a key factor. Consequently, the technology used in the transmission of biomechanics energy also turns into an essential factor for the cyclist's health. If the effort is done mainly on the skeleton (femur and hummer) with an optimal position, then the work is done more efficiently, the muscles are not overloaded and injuries are avoided.
A good position requires an adjustment of the main parts of the bike in relation to the body of the cyclist. To find everyone's magic recipe we need to take into account basic dimensions that are related to the distances between the handle, the seat and the pedals. To get it right, the arms must not be much flexed or very straight, to allow having the shoulders relaxed to avoid injuries in the cervical area. The thighs have to work in parallel without opening the knees, which could produce problems on the ligaments of the knees. The legs have to stay nearly straight when the pedal is at the lowest, and they always have to make a circular movement, going on with the pedal. Observing these measures the most common injuries can be avoided, such as tendonitis, breaking ligaments of knees and ankles, problems with the kneecap, injuries in the muscles and in the nerve of the food sole.
Apart from the convenient position, the technologies that the bike incorporates, as a machine, they also have effects in the driving. The current technologies in most of the bicycles are thought for making sport and therefore to promote this physical effort. However, using the bike as a means of urban transport needs to have as a main objective to protect the human body of any bad habits in the body's position or any brusque movements or efforts, and therefore, to push biomechanics and ergonomics.
The urban cyclist does not need to feel faint no matter the length of the journey. That is why we believe that it is necessary to encourage four main ideas about the MORE RECOMMENDED technology in an urban bike for daily use.
1. Ergonomics and posture
The aerodynamic position adopted on race bicycles does not have anything to do with the ideal posture on an urban bicycle where the most important is the ergonomics . While on the first one it is important to bend the body since the circuit is supposed to avoid any obstacles, the urban cyclist needs to be erect, with maximum visibility to pay attention to the environment since the route is more variable and irregular. This posture is determined by three elements in relation with the height of a person: the body of the bike, the stem and the backward movement of the seat. The frame of the bike is built in different sizes to adapt to as many different body structures as possible. In this sense it is important to spread the most common sizes of frames for different people. A way to know which is the best frame is to multiply the length from the feet to the crotch of the person 0.6 times. It is also important to consider the agility of the person so that the frame allows getting up and down the bike with the major security and without losing equilibrium. The straight frame is not for gentlemen as neither it is the S-shape exclusive for women. The shape of the frame and its variants are so to facilitate the election of the bike depending on the user's skills and the environments. In reality, the different measures between men and women are because, generally, women's legs are longer than men's. The urban bike needs to encourage safety in front of external determining factors; it has to be appropriate for daily use and it needs to be comfortable when we need to start and stop due to traffic lights, pedestrians, etc.
For more demanding people, there is the option of a custom-made bike, where it is thought and built depending on the measures of a certain person. It is an option far from many budgets, but however available for instance for professionals, bike-lovers or even people with special body attributes.
The second aspect of ergonomics is the handle. When we hold on to the bike it is necessary to have maximum mobility of the body