Some food for thought!

Benefits of a bicycle

How could one argue with a form of transportation that shapes up that boodie, gives you legs of steel and whizzes past traffic jams?

Cycling as a form of transportation takes a drastic mental shift. For anyone who isn’t used to having it be their main form of transportation. It requires planning – what to wear, what route to take, how much time to budget, etc.

It also requires preparation – for the unpredictable weather conditions, making sure you have the right equipment (lock, helmet, gloves) and ensuring that you have a functioning bike (it’s important you have brakes that will actually brake!).

So I think it’s fair to say that there are numerous barriers that legitimately discourage people from cycling. The rainy, Vancouver winter days that will have you drenched within 5 minutes, the sweatiness that follows a tough climb up that massive hill, the helmet that messes up your hair, the thief that might steal your bike from the sidewalk, the cars that don’t know how to share the road with you, the enormous heavy backpack you need to carry everything.

However, I have a three-fold benefits list when it comes to encouraging people to use cycling as a form of transportation.

1. Environmentally friendly.

This is when my tree-hugging gene comes out. As a firm believer in climate change, cycling allows me to get around town without the guilt of knowing that I’m not contributing to the pollution we are being exposed to (as I inhale it while breathing heavily). Random fact for your next party: Twenty bicycles can be parked in the same space as one car. It takes around five percent of the materials and energy used to make a car to build a bike, and a bike produces zero pollution.

2. Financially affordable.

Yes, you do need to shell out a good chunk of change initially to actually purchase a bike (and maybe more if you decide to invest in a pricier one) but to me, the purchase, use and maintenance of a bike is still more manageable than a car. There are the necessary (and recommended) expenses that include a good quality helmet, lock, and numerous other products that you can find at a bike store (or the cyclists best friend and version of Costco, MEC) in addition to what I would recommend in a tune-up once a year just to make sure all the tweaks on your bike get fixed. But when the price of gas fluctuates as often as it does and currently hovering around $1.40/liter, I can’t help but think visiting the gas station to pump up those tires with FREE air sounds a lot more appealing.

3. Low-impact-ish physical activity.

Don’t get me wrong, cycling can be extremely strenuous and intense. It can certainly give you a good workout. And give you those jelly legs afterwards that make you wish you had an elevator in your house. But it is much nicer to our precious joints, ankles and knees than a sport like running.

My sister loves describing any group of 3 cyclists a “bike gang” and does so enthusiastically. There’s a sense of camaraderie that comes with being on a bike and acknowledging other cyclists. I even found myself cycling with good ‘ol Mayor Gregor Robertson one time when we got stopped at a red light. It’s good to know he’s using his bike lanes too!

And even treehugger.com says that it saves Australia millions of dollars in health costs!

So if you are able to reach that mental shift, there’s a three-fold benefits list that comes with it.

Alison Chang

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