Why we bike

simplicity of life galenSimplicity in life=freedom - Cars have been touted as our key to freedom. Yet travel by car has costs and hassles we’ve come to accept. Cars speed up our surroundings, speed up our lives and leave us rushing around, transforming us into madman behind the wheel. Our hard earned money is spent on gas, insurance, car payments, tickets, and maintenance. The annual average cost of driving a small sedan is $6,320 per year, according to 2008 AAA driving study. As we pollute the air we breath we struggle at the same time to stop global warming. A bicycle or traveling by mass transit adds simplicity to your life. Bus or train riders can read a paper or rest, there’s no need to keep your eye on the road. The bike allows you to go where you want, when you want (for most in town trips). Bikes are relatively cheap and allow owners to spend less time working to afford mobility. Bikes don’t need gasoline, oil changes, fuel filters, or a new radiator.

health benifits laurel and aaron cropped Health Benefits - There are numerous health benefits associated with moderate exercise, and cycling is a great low impact choice. Healthier heart, lower cholesterol, greater bone density, and reduced health risks are just some of the benefits 30 minutes of exercise a day will bring you. Thirty minutes is the time it takes many just to drive to the gym, change, and drive home again. Adopting an active lifestyle can allow you to forget about exercise, something people often dread or have to squeeze into their busy schedules. A quick bike ride can energize you and be a great break, whether you’re a student studying all day or a supermom multi-tasking. Take some time to bike, either as recreation or transportation, and see how easy it is to do something good for yourself. Organizations like Bike For All and iwalk encourage parents, teachers, and students to take advantage of the health benefits of walking and biking to school and work.

marsh and bay shots (8) Habitat Protection - The simple explanation is bikes are smaller, cars are bigger. As we pave over more and more of the country for cars we take away more and more space for people. In the United States, the area the size of a football field is paved over for ever five cars on the road. This amounts to 61,000 square miles of farm lands, wildlife habitat, public parks, gardens, housing, and business that is simply paved over for the single occupancy vehicle. Bikes, on the other hand, need a much smaller amount of space. Ten bikes can comfortably fit in one car parking space. Better yet they can be stored in living rooms, bedrooms, hung on garage walls, tied to trees, and what ever else is available. A bike requires a narrow travel lane, where as a car needs at least 8ft. Of course this is being modest; the low traffic road in front of my house is 24 ft wide. Citizen groups like Park(ing), Green Wheels, paraSITE, and asphalt gardens are working hard to make our city space for people rather than cars.

global warmingGlobal Warming – Global warming is caused by a build up of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. These greenhouse gasses, in normal concentrations, are important to making the Earth inhabitable, as they keep some of the sun’s heat energy from escaping. The problem is, since the industrial revolution, the concentration of the greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere have been rapidly increasing. This means more and more heat is being trapped, warming the planet. To you and me a degree or two doesn’t seem like a big deal. However all of us have a lot on the line here. With increasingly variable and extreme temperatures our food security is threatened. Rising sea levels mean loosing island nations, coast line, and the invasion of salt water into fresh water supplies. Temperature changes will change the timing of animal behaviors, like migrations, hibernation, and egg laying. The timing of these behaviors is crucial to the species survival; even minor disruptions could mean the demise of the species. These startling changes have already begun to affect the planet, and have made it a key issue for communities, leaders, and scientists. Check out the Ride for Climate education and action bike ride across the United States, then learn more about what we all need to do to stop global warming.

IMG_0220 Community Development - For many of us, growing up in dense cities or sprawled out suburbs we have never experienced the benefits of a community. We don’t know what it is like to pass our neighbors on the way to work and say hi, we don’t know what it is like to see the neighborhood kids walking in a mass to school every morning. These interactions are integral to community involvement. Biking exposes us; bike riders feel the seasons, hear the birds, wave and ring bells at fellow commuters. There is no bubble. You can’t honk or yell at another biker or walker because you see them as an individual, not just some jerk in a Chevy. Bike commuting is a great way to meet other folks living in your area, have a chance encounter with a friend, and even turn your daily commute into a social ride. Check out the chapter Social Isolation and Inequities in Divorce Your Car! by Katharine T. Alvord and Katie Alvord, which suggests our metal cages isolate us from our neighbors, different sectors of society, and even the conditions of our own neighborhoods.

pollution

Pollution - We all know that cars produce toxic emissions that can lead to cancers, asthma, and other health effects, though I for one can’t spell most of them: Benzene, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, 1,3-butadiene, nitrogen oxides… Automobiles are responsible for 60-80% of urban air pollution. But it is not just air pollution. There is water pollution, light pollution, noise pollution. Noise levels above 70 dB for an extended period of time causes permanent hearing loss, sleep disturbance, and an increases in stress hormones. The average city has noise levels around 85 dB, and the automobile is responsible for 80% of this urban noise pollution.

kalia freedom ride 2 cropped FOR THE SHEAR JOY OF IT ALL – Grab a bike and get it up the steepest hill in your neighborhood. Sure the way up was tough; you may have walked, or at least cursed and sweated and gulped for air, but getting to the top is one of those great feelings that only come from sweating and cursing and gulping for air. It is that feeling of accomplishment, of proving to yourself the ability of your own body. It is that feeling of believing you are on top of the world. Once you have soaked in the feeling of making it to the top, turn around and fly down. Whether you ride your brakes down at 10 mph or tuck in at 50 mph, the wind still howls through your hair and your shirt still flutters against your back. This is as close as we’ll get to flying. This is why we bike. For every up hill there is a down hill. For every challenge there is a reward of accomplishment. Why do we ride? We ride for the shear joy of it.