IN the past few weeks, a lot of attention has been focused on the issue of climate change, with particular emphasis placed on the importance of smarter energy use and the positive impacts this can effect. The Vodafone Fiji Hibiscus Festival's theme is climate change and USP hosted a week-long conference about renewable energy and climate change in the Pacific. So, there has been a lot of discussion around the topic and what is clear is that unless energy is used better and more efficiently, the climatic future will continue to look bleak.
ONE of the topics highlighted last week at the International Conference on Renewable Energy and Climate Change — among numerous insightful others — was the important role of the humble bicycle in the fight against climate change.
Dubbed at the conference as one of the world's greatest inventions, the bicycle requires minimal maintenance, results in fitter populations if used regularly and runs purely off the body's energy.
If more people invested in purchasing bicycles — new or second-hand and rode them daily instead of taking taxis, buses or cars, Fiji may well be in for a bicycle revolution — resulting in a much cleaner environment and a healthier population.
Cycling Fiji president Adrienne Ali yesterday outlined the positive impact bicycles could have if more people used them.
"On a bicycle you can travel up to 1037 kilometres on the energy equivalent of a single litre of petrol," Ms Ali said.
"On a bicycle, you provide a motor — your heart — which improves its own strength and efficiency, and even lengthens its working life, the more it is used."
She said bicycles protected people from heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and often stress — bikes were well known as therapeutic measures for people who may be depressed.
"A moderate half-hour each way commute will burn eight calories a minute, or the equivalent of 11kg of fat in a year.
"Cycling four miles daily reduces the risk of coronary heart disease by 50 per cent. It's good aerobic exercise and involves smooth, regular movement, putting no load-bearing strain on joints or muscles — good news if you're arthritic, overweight or generally unfit."
While a lot of people who discuss cycling bring up the cost as a bit of a deterrent, Ms Ali said it was a worthwhile investment, describing it as the equivalent of "a few tankfuls of petrol".
"You can get bikes ranging from $100 to $10,000 — it all depends on your level and interest in cycling.
"Cycling Fiji also has a number of donated cycles that we will be making available to young people serious about taking up cycling as a sport.
"You can do whatever and however much you like that's the beauty of cycling; it's a means of getting around.
"You don't necessarily need special attire for cycling. A lot of people just wear sneakers and exercise shorts and a T-shirt. You must, however, always use a helmet for personal safety."