Monday, June 25, 2012

List #31: Eight Reasons that Cycling is Better than Driving

The family vehicle of the Bicycle Hotel owners (Amsterdam)
I couldn't let Bike Month slip away without a bike-related list, now could I? Here are eight reasons why biking is better than driving:
  1. It's great low impact exercise that really works your whole body. The leg part is obvious, but you also need your core muscles & upper body to maintain stability. I don't need to remind you of the myriad reasons why exercise is good for you--just imagine not having to plan when you're going to exercise. It could just happen automatically when you go from point A to point B if you bike.
  2. It's nearly free once you've bought a bike. Cycling is very accessible for anybody--you can get a serviceable bike used for very cheap if you're totally strapped for cash. Maintenance of my bicycle has averaged out to less than $50 a year & I bought the bike over TEN years ago for around $500. That works out to about $100 a year. You don't pay for insurance & parking is always free. No other transportation option except walking is that cheap!
  3. You really get to experience your neighbourhood on a bike. While cycling, I have chatted with strangers, bought a poetry collection from a street vendor, stopped for a glass of lemonade from a kids' stand, seen tiny little lizards sunning themselves on the road & watched seals in False Creek. I would never have done any of these things if I were driving. In fact, I probably would have run over the lizards.
  4. Biking saves you time. Bikes can whiz past traffic jams, take sidewalks (slowly & cautiously) to detour around road work without taking a longer route & sometimes take more direct routes through parks or streets that are one way for cars. If you're cycling regularly, you don't need to make time (or as much time) for exercise. Plus, it's unlikely you'll spend several minutes driving around to find a parking space.
  5. Cycling is greener than driving. Bikes require a lot less material, energy & resources to manufacture than a car. Also--this one's a no-brainer--bikes don't require gasoline. Of course, you do burn calories (~300 for a half hour of 20km/h cycling, depending on your weight) but because it's the most efficient way to travel in terms of energy used to distance travelled, you don't need to eat much more to fuel it. An extra snack & you're good to go. Then again, if you're like most of us & want to drop a little weight, maybe skip the snack?
  6. It's really easy to combine cycling with other modes of transportation. This is a great way to do longer cycling day trips or vacations. You can take bikes on the Skytrain, Seabus & most buses have racks for two of them. BC Ferries charges $2 to bring your bike on board--compare that to the $49.25 for a car! If you have a folding bike, the world is your oyster.
  7. Cycling is fun! Feeling the wind whip past your face & the satisfaction of getting somewhere on your own steam is awesome. When I get to the ferry terminal by car, I think, "Great. Now I have to sit in my vehicle in a giant parking lot & wait to squeeze it onto this ferry." When I biked there, it was a feeling of accomplishment.
  8. You can maintain your own bicycle. The mechanics of a bicycle are pretty simple & it's all right out there in the open, unlike the workings of a car. Changing cables, adjusting brakes, cleaning your chain & replacing tubes or tires is not difficult work. You can take short courses to learn bicycle maintenance with an organization like HUB, or go to a place like Our Community Bikes where you can use their tools & get some help to learn as you go. Even if you don't fix your own bike--taking it in to the shop is not going to cost you anywhere near as much as it would with a car.

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Why Monday lists? Reading the lovely Chloe's blog, Tea Swamp Park, I found an idea I had to 'steal': a list of all her Halloween costumes, with quite a few photos. She got the idea from Hula Seventy's List Project. I've decided to do the weekly lists for a year that Hula Seventy is doing. 

Tea Swamp Park & Hula Seventy are not the only ones doing lists, however. Check out NorthWestMommy's list & 'assignment' for next week.

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