Demand for commuter and fitness bikes rose by 66% in March 2020, with many cycle stores struggling to meet the demand. Some cities, including New York, opened the roads to cyclists as a result, and many leisure cyclists are now using their bicycles to commute to work and travel around the city. Keeping safe while cycling on the road might involve learning tips for cycling at night, or it could involve learning the rules of the road if you don’t drive. This may lead you to question whether you should cycle on roads under the influence. Cycling under the influence of alcohol laws are hazy in some states, so: should you drink and cycle?

Cycling Culture And Alcohol

Some cyclists consider cycling and drinking alcohol to be a fun pastime, and feel it is less dangerous than driving and drinking. On the other hand, a study published in the International Journal of Surgery showed that more than a third of patients involved in bicycle-related crashes were intoxicated.

Tour de France contestants commonly drank alcohol well into the 1960s, particularly wine and beer. This was thought to help dull the pain of the intensive and long ride. However, this is now prevented due to doping regulations. Cycling during competitions or for leisure may lead people to have a social drink, but should this be the case for those who are venturing onto the city’s roads?

Effects On Performance

Alcohol may increase positivity and confidence for a short while, but it can impact adversely on your performance when cycling. It dilates your blood vessels, making it difficult to control body temperature, which can be challenging during the summer months. It also blocks the brain receptors key for reasoning, meaning you are likely to make poor decisions while riding, which could cause an accident.

Alcohol consumption also decreases the rate of protein synthesis, and as all active people know, protein is key for muscle growth and recovery. This, coupled with slower fat burning, could make cyclists unfit for riding. Although a beer and a cycle around the local park may be a great pastime, it may not be the best idea if you plan on using the roads to commute to work regularly.

Drinking And Cycling - Mountain bikers
Drinking and cycling – not a good idea

Effects On Road Users

Cycling on the roads while drunk will have a direct effect on others if you behave recklessly, and could cause serious injury. You may be subject to penalties if responsible for a road accident, especially if you are found to be inebriated and harm another road user. Studies have shown that cycling while under the influence of alcohol was associated with more severe injuries as well as higher mortality rates.

This is backed by statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which found that in 37% of fatal bicycle crashes in 2017, alcohol was involved. Cyclists who are used to refreshing with a beer halfway through a ride may, therefore, need to take extra precautions when transitioning to using bikes on the roads.

It appears that drinking and cycling has more adverse effects than positive ones. Those who are cycling on the road should adhere to the rules of other road users to avoid serious accidents involving other passengers or pedestrians.

Jane Sandwood

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