There are so many reasons why bicycle riding is more beneficial than driving a car. Here are only a few reasons.
- Sustainable Community Growth
- Health and Safety
- Social Enhancements
- Economic Benefits
- Educational and Learning Experience
- Environmental Impact
- Public Transportation
Sustainable Community Growth
Growth is a consequence of a thriving economy and jobs. This is considered the birthplace of Innovative companies such as Apple, Intel and HP and is now the center of Innovation in social networks and eCommerce such as Facebook, Google, eBay and other high tech companies. As such this region will continue to attract more jobs and new residents. We also have two of the highest ranked school districts in the nation attracting many young family with kids. So relatively rapid growth will almost certainly continue into the unforeseen future. Growth is a healthy sign of a flourishing economy.
The question is how to keep the infrastructure of roadways, facilities, utilities, and schools in pace with this rapid growth. Most of our infrastructure is more than 30 years old. Our city of urban sprawl was designed for cars as the only mode of transportation. We have no significant public transportation. All other modes of transportation are either nonexistent, inconvenient or too dangerously for most to routinely use.
Cars take up enormous amounts of space and resources on our roads and in large parking lots. Garages make up 20% of our houses and 10% of most lot. They are larger than most living rooms. Cars kill more people than all of our modern day wars. Most cars have only one occupant. Cars are so numerous and pose such a hazard that it discourages biking and walking. The average car commute is only 5 miles. They cause traffic congestion around schools and other heavily used roadways.
Bikes on the other hand take up very little room. You can store 40 bikes in the space of one car if stacked like in Denmark. Eight bikes can be ridden in the same effective space as one car. They pose little danger to the community and can be ridden year round in our great weather. So what is the downside?
Since more bikes on the road result in fewer cars on street or parking areas in our schools, shopping centers, businesses, and housing, there will be far more space for the future growth of our city and all its human habitat. As more growth is needed people will simply drive less and bike more. In the distant future cars may become obsolete and future residents will ride their bikes or take public transportation everywhere.
Health and Safety
Cars pose a danger of fatal and severe injury to each other as well as to other modes of transportation such as bikes and pedestrians resulting in expensive hospitalization, lost wages, loss of life, and costly lawsuits. Traffic congestion results in increased hazards around schools and other heavily used roadways. Due to the lack of good nutrition and the lack of exercise they are suffering from obesity, diabetes, and the early onset of coronary disease reducing their effective quality of live and lifespan.
The safety benefits of biking presupposes that infrastructure already exists for their safe, convenient, and appealing use. Bicycle accidents typically result in non-serious injuries such as scratches and bumps and occasionally broken bones. Cycling is very good exercise for maintaining good muscle tone, a strong heart and bones, and controlled weight through the burning of fat which serves also as fuel to peddle the bike. No need to spend money going to the gym if one bikes daily. The fresh air and deep breathing also maintains good lungs function and oxygenation. One should expect to live a longer and more fulfilling life riding as opposed to driving.
Our children are growing up in a car-centric culture where they believe cars to be the only way to travel. Cars isolate people from other sharing the road.
Cycling on the other-hand give people the opportunity to socialize while biking, shopping, and otherwise together. Bikes are open, as opposed to cars, making human contact simply a voice away. Casual cyclists can easily engage in conversations without having to speak to one another over a cellphone. People have the opportunity to know other bikers around them and make more friends. Families cycling together have a lot of fun. Children feel more equal to their parents as they have control of where they go and keep their eyes on their suroundings, an experience unlikely to happen in a car.
Cars are expensive to buy and maintain: fuel, maintenance, insurance, license and registration, smog checks, bank payments, accidents, etc. Most driving is done within 5 miles of our houses. Cars need to be replaces every 8-12 years. Averaging expenses over a year probably amounts ot $5-10 thousand for the privilege of parking their cars 90% of the day, enough for a nice vacation cruise.
One can buy a feet of bikes for the price of one inexpensive car. Bikes cost so little to purchase that you can really afford to buy quit a good one. Most of us think buying a $2000 bike very expensive while we think little of buying a $20,000 car. It cost close to nothing to run and maintain, never need to be fueled up (instead burns fat off your body), has no fees, smog, or license requirements, and last virtually forever. As noted earlier the average trip in a car is 5 miles. It takes about 30 minutes to make a 5 mile trip by bike costing nothing. There is really no comparison.
Educational and Learning Experience
The openness and small size and agility of bikes allowing all ages to ride contrast with the isolation and bulkiness of cars that only can be driven by 17 year old and up. Because of the openness of bikes and the ability of children to control where they go they can be very close to their environment and satisfy their curiosity. Mountain bikes can transport people much closer to the wilderness than a car exposing them to new sights and sounds on the go. Bikes are relatively unobtrusive to their environments allowing the curious to better observe and learn about their surroundings while traveling. There are those who learn to do acrobatic stunts with bikes requiring great skill, balance, and coordination that are nothing short of amazing. Cross country biking constantly keeps the biker engaged with their surroundings while travel from place to place.
Cars are notorious for producing air pollution which is bad for your health and the environment and greenhouse gas (CO2) that increase global warming. Manufacturing cars and all its infrastructure of roads, gas stations, repair facilities, replacement parts, batteries and tires consumes huge amounts of fossil fuel energy and natural resources leaving an enormous carbon and pollution footprint. This consumption of energy, pollution, and greenhouse emissions is not sustainable. It require us to be far more dependent upon oil. And cars must be periodically replaced.
Bikes on the other hand require little energy to manufacture and since they almost last for ever they have no impact upon energy, pollution, or greenhouse emissions. They require no fossil fuel to operate thus are very environmentally friendly. There is really no comparison.
Changing the mindset of a Car-centric culture to a Bike-centric culture will inevitably enhance the appeal of Public Transportation where that is more appropriate than casual biking, for example for long distances. Once people become accustomed to not using their cars they will naturally gravitate towards other alternative forms of transportation. Public Transit also has a major role in making our community more sustainable. There are seniors who simply cannot ride bikes so having buses stop at senior citizen housing and centers would help contribute to their overall mobility. For people commuting to other cities to work public transportation is perfectly acceptable. If public transportation can accommodate bikes so much the better. There should be ample bike parking at all public transit stops so that people can conveniently ride their bikes to the transit stops, park their bikes and hop on the transit system. Free shuttles should be available around major routes throughout the city with bicycle parking to shuttle residents to shopping area if riding a bike is not convenient or appropriate.
There are a few drawbacks to riding a bicycle:
- Exposure to inclement weather – this has already been dealt with;
- Speed – cars can go much faster than bicycles. But if a city is designed with longer round for cars than bicycles this can be mitigated;
- Time – because cars can travel faster than bicycles it will take less time to go the same distance. But as with speed if a city is designed with longer rounds this is no longer a problem. People will simply adapt to the longer time it takes to get from one place to another.
The slower pace of the bicycle will naturally reflect in a slower pace of life which reduces stress levels improving the quality of life. Connecting more with one’s surroundings can be soothing. Too fast a pacing in life can be as unbeneficial to man as too slow a pace.
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