A companion site (THE PRACTICAL CYCLIST) is home to
genuinely practical information about using bikes for transportation.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Bike Pusher: why you should ride

So, generally, I don't like to push bikes on people who don't already want or
like them. I'm going to break my own rule here in support of the
creation of additional convenient bicycle parking in the commonspace
in our building.

First though, I want to say that I am not strictly anti-car. I own a
car, I use
it, I enjoy driving it (sometimes). I think cars can be useful and fun.

Now that I have that out of the way, I'd like to talk about other things:
community, health, economic diversity, environmental degradation (including
global warming), and finally, convenience.

Nothing builds commmunity like personal contact between people. It's
easiest on
foot, but walking is sometimes too slow, and has a limited range in general.
It's hard to stop and chat with someone going the other way when
you're driving
a car. Bicycle: just right. Without the glass and steel shell, you
the physical community, rather than watch it go by on the other side of the

No social speech needed here. Exercise is good for you. Walking is good.
According to the CDC, people are healthier in "walkable communities." Biking
is healthy too.

Economic diversity:
Aside from the cost of the car itself, owning a car costs an average of $7000
each year. Plus, the more you use it, the more you pay in gas and
Walking? Free. Riding a bike? Maybe $1000/yr, maybe less. If you can live
without owning a car, you can save a lot of bread. Conversely, if you don't
have a lot of bread, riding a bike is a good option.

Environmental degradation:
The Union of Concerned Scientists, and many other groups, say that a typical
American's car, compared with all other personal objects and
activities, has the largest environmental impact by a wide margin.
They recommend tuning cars regularly, keeping tires inflated, and
shopping with gas mileage in mind as ways to mitigate the
environmental damage caused by driving. They also recommend reducing
use. The statistics for car trips are nutty: A huge majority of auto
trips are under one mile. We can do better!

Try this: use an alternative method once a week for a trip for which
you typically use a car.

Next, try to go car free one or two days a week.

David Moskovitz
Silver Spring, MD

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