The many benefits of cycling have been expounded for years -- the cardiovascular exercise, the strengthening of muscles, the reduction in stress. But what if your bike is also doing its part to ruin your sex life?
A recent study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine revealed that different handlebar postures on bicycles can affect genital sensation for women, reports ScienceDaily.com.
The study, authored by Yale University School of Medicine Marsha K. Guess, an assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences, showed that an increased pressure on the genital region thanks to seating postures could result in permanent damage to the nerves in the genital region.
"There are a myriad of factors affecting women's sexual function. If women can minimize pressure application to the genital tissues merely by repositioning their handlebars higher, to increase sitting upright, and thereby maximize pressure application to the woman's sit bones, then they are one step closer to maintaining their very important sexual health," explained Irwin Goldstein, editor-in-chief of The Journal of Sexual Medicine.
The study takes its cue from similar research done in 2006 at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Brugmen in Brussels. As reported by WomensCycling.ca, the paper's author Professor Luc Baeyons pointed to three regions impacted by bike saddles: The two sit bones, which can withstand pressure, and the soft tissue between the legs, which can be deadened by continued impact.
Baeyons' suggestions for improvement included finding a saddle that didn't push on the delicate tissue, getting a bike fitted to your body size, wearing padded shorts and getting up from your saddle while riding at least every 10 minutes. His final piece of advice corresponds with Guess' research: Adjusting the bike handlebars so your posture becomes more vertical.
Concerns about the effect on cycling on men's health have been studied previously, with sperm counts lowered and instances of erectile dysfunction raised for those who cycle more. For males, saddles seem to the key to protecting their nether regions.
Calgary scores <a href="http://blogs.calgaryherald.com/2012/05/15/new-bike-score-shows-strengths-and-weaknesses-of-calgarys-pathway-network/" target="_hplink">high in the inner city, older suburbs and northeast region</a>, thanks to its multiuse pathways.
While the prettiness of cruising Charlottetown on a bike is a real draw for tourists, it looks like only the very downtown core has any true 'bikeability' - <a href="http://spacingatlantic.ca/2011/06/14/connecting-the-dots-mapping-charlottetowns-cycling-infrastructure/" target="_hplink">Spacing magazine noted this could be due to the lack of connections between pathways</a>, and the lack of a usable map for visitors.
Halifax and nearby Dartmouth showed a similar pattern to other cities -- while the downtown areas had great 'bikeability', as you leave the core, it becomes more difficult. In the past, columnists have <a href="http://www.thecoast.ca/halifax/cycling-frustration/Content?oid=1663033" target="_hplink">complained about the lack of cycling infrastructure</a>, including paths and places to lock bikes.
Only a very small swath of land in Moncton is deemed bikeable -- <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/story/2011/07/18/nb-bike-lanes-moncton-kingston-139.html" target="_hplink">the city has had struggles when trying to enact a more bike-friendly attitude</a> and infrastructure.
Virtually unbikeable, the hills in St. John's make it difficult terrain to navigate by bike -- Newfoundland in general had <a href="http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2006/as-sa/97-561/table/t3c-eng.cfm" target="_hplink">the lowest rate of people who commute by bicycle in the country</a>, according to the most recent statistics. That, however, hasn't stopped the city from <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/story/2010/07/27/cycling-plan-stjohns-council-727.html" target="_hplink">attempting to create a cycling plan that works for everyone</a>.
With its flat lands, Saskatoon lends itself nicely to cycling, and in fact, scored <a href="http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/programs/environment-utsp-casestudy-cs77ebikeplanning-1177.htm" target="_hplink">second-place for cities where commuters bike to work</a>. It also has an extensive cycling network in development, with <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/story/2009/07/28/bike-lanes.html" target="_hplink">new paths and lanes being added all the time</a>.
It makes sense that <a href="https://montreal.bixi.com/" target="_hplink">the original home of Bixi bikes</a> would do so well on the cycling scale. Montreal's relatively flat terrain and condensed size -- not to mention its bike paths and Bixi stations -- earned it <a href="http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1915050_1915041_1915033,00.html" target="_hplink">a place on Time Magazine's Top 10 Urban Bike Trips list</a>.
Toronto's size plays a major factor in its bikeability -- bike-friendly areas are scattered throughout the city, but there are plenty of places where bikes still dare not go. And despite a much-publicized '<a href="http://www.theworld.org/2012/05/war-on-the-streets-of-toronto-motorists-vs-cyclists/" target="_hplink">war on cyclists</a>,' there are <a href="http://bikingtoronto.com/maps/bikelanes/" target="_hplink">plenty of sites</a> and <a href="http://www.ibiketo.ca" target="_hplink">people advocating for better resources</a>.
Vancouver scores very high on the bike-friendly index, thanks to the topography, bike lanes, and the difficult-to-qualify-but-still-important bike culture. It has a ways to go though -- <a href="http://vancouver.openfile.ca/blog/vancouver/2012/vancouvers-bike-score-heat-map-shows-city-one-canadas-most-bikeable" target="_hplink">northern Europe does better than every Canadian city on the map</a>.
Victoria was right up alongside Vancouver in terms of bikeability, and <a href="http://www.gvcc.bc.ca/" target="_hplink"> its strong Cycling Coalition and "Cycling Master Plan"</a> make it easy to see why.