Bicycling Life

May 9, 2012
By douma BRONZE, Sumas, Washington
douma BRONZE, Sumas, Washington
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

How many times have you heard ads on the television trying to persuade people to improve their health? Often the ad may be about joining a health club to get exercise or trying an “amazing” diet, but both of these are very costly. In today’s society of high technology many Americans are less active and not spending enough time to stay healthy. Many times, people are rushing to work in their car and not thinking about the impact this has on their body or environment. There are many times when everyone should be trying to find ways to improve their health as well as create a healthier living environment. Most exercising takes too much time and money, but bicycling can save both.

A bicycle is a very simple solution to many problems. People can enjoy their time while travelling, save money, and get exercise for a healthier body. Owning and utilizing a bicycle can cut back expenses, improve health, and help the environment.

Many people these days use their cars to travel, even just a few blocks down the road from their home. Tons of gas is wasted which, in turn, pollutes the environment. Today’s new cars are a lot more fuel efficient and even some are hybrids, a cross between gas and electric, but there are other ways that can save significant amounts of gas and money. With the increasing price of gas and diesel, it is becoming more and more expensive to use a car or truck to travel any distance. Even if the trip to work is only 10 short minutes, driving and idle time at stop signs can really add up. A short distance such as that can be biked and save gas. Even though today’s new cars are becoming a lot more fuel efficient with hybrids that use both gas and electricity, and completely electric cars, most of these are way too expensive for people to afford, especially the people that really need to save money. This refers to people that can only afford a car in working shape, which guzzle fuel and pumps out tons of pollutants, they are the ones in desperate need of a bicycle for their transportation. In the book How to Live well without owning a Car, Balish states, “The bicycle is the most efficient mode of human transport ever devised. The only form of transportation that is cheaper is walking.” Therefore bicycling is, without a doubt, a less expensive and more efficient way as a means of travel.

Bicycling can not only save money, but it can bring better health. Just by commuting to and from work on a bike, it can substitute as the daily workout. “Health and Transportation experts say biking to work can also be an excellent way to exercise and lose weight” (Fitness & Wellness). Other forms of exercise can be extremely strenuous on joints and ligaments, but since on a bicycle your body does not actually impact the ground it is gentler on your body. Stephen Madden, the editor of Bicycling magazine, says he “can’t for the life of me figure out why the government isn’t promoting bike-to-work campaigns. We have an obesity problem, as well as energy problem and bicycling could help solve both of them” (Life Science Weekly). To encourage employees to ride a bike to work some companies in the USA are creating special secure areas to store their bikes and have access to during the work day. This has not only increased the participation of employees seeking to save money on transportation but the health benefits of regular exercise has decreased the amount of employee medical expenses. A bicycle is a very simple solution to many problems. As stated in The Bicycle Newsletter, “Bicycling is one of the best workouts there is” (Edmonds). Also, when health has improved that brings lower insurance premiums, less medications and less doctor visits which benefits everyone. “If irony could kill, driving to a health club to exercise on a treadmill or stationary bike would be deadly” (Walker). So if you stop and think about it, if a person bicycles instead of using a car, they get the exercise they need without even needing to go to the health club, resulting in saving more money.

To try and meet the new interest of using a bike for transportation, new ideas are being developed. New bicycles are being designed to make the ride easier and more enjoyable. According to John Markoff, “New bikes are being designed as “comfort bikes” are growing in popularity for people commuting. The comfort bikes grew to 20.8 percent of the 17 million bicycles sold in the USA last year, this up from 13.6 percent in 2000 according to statistics from the National Bicycle Dealers Association. This supports the idea that people are choosing to ride bikes more and are enjoying more comfort while riding. According to the National Bicycle Dealers Association, “Now the industry is hoping that the market is ready for a new bike like this commuting bicycle.” The geometry has changed to specifically fit men or women and the variation in the size of riders. These bikes have started to become the main source of income for bike shops (Markoff). Which proves that due to the increased interest by many people to become healthier and people needing to change their lifestyles to get more exercise, the newer bikes are being produced at a lower, cost friendly amount. Shops and companies have focused a lot more work into creating more comfort bikes and analyzing people to find the perfect bike to suit their needs. Not only are the bikes less expensive, they are designed more to the riders needs and built more comfortable to ride. The end result, more bikes are being sold and more people are choosing a bike as a comfortable means of transportation and exercise. Not only is this trend benefitting the rider but riding a bike has little impact on the Earth’s environment which is important for everyone.

On the other hand, cars and trucks are the main contributors on the planet of pollution. They not only emit fumes that pollute the air, but wear down and leave oils and fluids in the soil. Also, their weight breaks down and ruins roads, which in turn cost more tax money. Once a road needs to be repaired, work is done that pollutes into the environment even more. The environment is slowly being destroyed by all of the pollution emitted from vehicles, many that don’t have to be used. A benefit is bicycles are much lighter and allow roads to last much longer than with heavy vehicle traffic. According to Walker in On Bicycles, many trips in cars and trucks used instead of cars in urban areas are quite short and could easily be made on a bicycle. According to the US National Personal Transportation survey, 25% of all trips are made within a mile of the home, 40% of all trips are within two miles of the home, and 50% of the working population commutes 5 miles or less to work. Short car trips over distances that could easily be bicycled are much more polluting than longer trips on a per mile basis because 60% of the pollution resulting from auto emissions is released during the first few minutes of operation of a vehicle. Bikes, by contrast, use no fossil fuels, emit zero carbon in use, and deposit very little polluting materials on the paved surfaces they travel.

Many people are turned away from bicycles because of the potentially high cost, but a bicycle can be much cheaper than a car and less expensive to maintain. By traveling with a bicycle it saves gas, insurance, repairs, and licensing. “I don’t have to pay for car payments, insurance, parking tickets, towing fees, city stickers or major repairs. I can’t imagine how much money I‘ve saved by not owning a car,” stated Jennifer Ardle in the book, How to Live without Owning a car (qtd. in Balish). This statement makes a lot of sense especially to people that live within the city. Often there are problems with parking and traffic flow, a bike could be a realistic, inexpensive solution to these problems. In many countries of the world, bicycles are used as the main mode of transportation. Entire families can be seen riding together on a bicycle or bicycles. This is true especially in third world countries where people and roads are considered quite poor. Another person quoted by Balish said, “I used the money I would have spent on a car to take a big trip every year. In the last few years alone I’ve been to India, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, France, and South Africa.” These experiences and statements support the idea that a bicycle isn’t as costly as owning a car.

A bicycle can cost for checkups and repairs, but the amount is greatly less than a vehicle. “In the United States, owning and operating even a basic car costs $3000-$5000 annually, in depreciation, fuel costs, insurance, registration, maintenance and repairs, and parking expenses” (Walker). Cars and trucks need lots of space to be stored, and can be easily vandalized in large cities. On the other hand, a bicycle can be stored in relatively small space such as your own bedroom. In Bicycling Magazine information was shared regarding a company that sells mostly by mail order, via a website that’s a model of straight forwardness.”Purchasers are asked just four questions: how fast; traditional or step-through frame; height; and budget, with prices starting at $550.These bikes provide a simple, attractive, and functional model whose appeal stretches beyond conventional bike tradition (Koeppel). Once a bicycle is substituted for transportation it can greatly improve life. According to Walker in On Bicycles, cycling is much more affordable than owning a motor vehicle. A reliable bicycle and accessories costs less than a thousand dollars new, and even less if they are purchased used. Assuming the bike has ten year life span (a conservative estimate), costs average out to about $250 annually for depreciation and maintence. Terry Brown started a project to see how much difference one person could make by using only a bicycle for a year, “over the course of the year I logged 2,932.92 miles on my bike running errands and commuting. All those miles add up to 226.8 gallons of gas saved, and @ $3.00 /gallon that adds up to $680.56 saved. Add in $1800 saved from not needing car insurance and $360/month, for a total of $4320/year, from car payments I no longer had to make and I saved a total of $6800.56 over the course of the year. I also saved 1750.98 lbs of CO2 from entering the atmosphere just by using a bicycle as my main form of transportation” (Brown). Terry Brown set the example of just how much a single person can save by substituting a bicycle for a car. Just by economically saving money, protecting the environment, and the potential to elevate health, the bicycle is one of the oldest and greatest inventions today.

Once a bicycle is substituted for transportation it can greatly improve life. In Marin County Bicycle Coalition states “commuting is a positive alternative to garage-highway-garage journeys that isolate commuters and clog roads. More cycling means less traffic, cleaner air, and fewer accidents.” A bike is much more convenient to take when traveling and provides a simpler way to get around whenever and wherever needed. To promote this idea, bicycles are being made that can fold or collapse into convenient, compact cases to carry.

As you can see, owning and utilizing a bicycle can cut back expenses, improve health, and help the environment. The expense of owning a car and the unhealthy impact of cars on the environment is significant and dangerous to future generations. Many people could improve their health, lower medical costs, and improve their quality of life by using a bicycle. To meet needs of people, many bicycle companies are designing bikes for more efficiency and comfort at a lower cost so more people can consider a bike as a main mode of transportation.

Finally, studies throughout the biking world significantly support the positive effects that using a bike could have for a person overall. The concept that using a bike immensely benefits not only people but the environment is well worth considering. Over many years, just imagine how much healthier the world and people would be if the primary means of transportation was bicycles.

The author's comments:
This was my senior project research paper.

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Debee said...
on Apr. 18 2016 at 6:10 pm
That was a great read.. I am so motivated right now to get a bicycle for myself even if i am just 17!

Debee said...
on Apr. 18 2016 at 6:10 pm
That was a great read.. I am so motivated right now to get a bicycle for myself even if i am just 17!


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