Community & Culture dutch bicyclist

Published on May 20th, 2011 | by Zachary Shahan

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Top 10 Benefits of Bicycling

 
If you weren’t aware, today is National Bike to Work Day in the U.S. That means that even if it is the only day of the year you do so, you should bike to work today!

Of course, biking is such a pleasant experience (for most people) if you get out there and try it out for transportation purposes, you’ll probably find that you love it & want to do it more.


 
I was wondering what to write about for bike to work day, and have just decided to write on the top 10 reasons you should bike, while including a lot of cool, bicycling pictures. So, here we go:

1. Bicycling is fun! Really, this is something that doesn’t get emphasized enough by bicycling advocates trying to address environmental problems. While it’s obvious once you get out there and do it, for the many people who haven’t (for transportation purposes), these may not be so obvious.

2. You’ll protect the climate and environment. Transportation is one of the leading causes (if not the #1 cause) of global warming. It is also what over 70% of oil is used for in the U.S. (So, if you’re concerned about global warming or peak oil — AND YOU SHOULD BE — bicycling is an easy, quick, fun solution you can implement today.)

3. It’ll save you a ton of money. The average American spends about $8,758 or 15% of their income a year on transportation, largely on automobiles — in DIRECT COSTS. If you add in the costs of war for oil, the increased cost of healthcare from air and water pollution and climate change, and other externalities, that will even go much higher. Luckily, if you want to save thousands upon thousands of dollars a year, you probably can by ditching the car and biking instead. Think it’s a scam? How could it be? I and many other people have done so and saved thousands if not hundreds of thousands.

4. It’s good for your health! Everyone wants to be healthier, right? Well, the moderate or rigorous exercise you get from bicycling (depending on how and where you bike) can go a looooong way in helping you on that. It’s definitely an easy, fun, and cheap way to improve your health and feel better.

5. You can skip the traffic headache. Traffic, it’s generally one of the top complaints of Americans, #2 last time I saw (but that was awhile ago). While bikers do have to ride in traffic as well, the details are a bit different. While cars pile up at red lights and might have to sit through 3 or 4 light changes, bikers can easily coast to the front of the line and don’t have to experience the boring torture of stop-and-go traffic. There’s definitely a great feeling involved in coasting past dozens of cars stuck in traffic and then pedaling off as soon as the light turns green.

6. The bicycling community. Driving, you probably don’t think much about connecting with or being a part of the same community as other drivers, but that’s different when you’re biking. Whether you just see a few bikers or see hundreds on your ride (like in Berlin, a great bicycle city I recently visited), you feel a sort of kinship with them all when you see them out there in the same way. I think this is one reason why bicycle groups are so big and why mini bicycle communities seem to pop up wherever there are more than 5 bicyclists.

7. Bicycling makes streets and cities nicer. There’s no doubt about it — people don’t like pollution, including noise pollution, traffic, or unsafe streets. Bicycling cuts down on pollution, noise, and traffic tremendously. Additionally, it makes streets much safer. I lived in Groningen in the Netherlands for 5 months, a city named “World Bicycling City” on a number of occasions and boasting a 50-60% bicycle commute rate. I noticed after awhile that I lived on one of the busiest and ‘largest’ streets in the city — I was right in between the city center (and the whole rest of the city) and the city’s huge University. It took me awhile to realize because the street was so tranquil, only two lanes, and despite thousands and thousands of people going by my window every morning, I could mostly just here the clicks of broken bicycles (there are a lot in the Netherlands) or their bells (used well when bicyclists pass each other in the wide bike lanes). There’s hardly a street nicer to live on, but if the bicycle commute rate were, say, 1% instead of 50-60%, the street and living on it would be an absolute nightmare!

8. Bicycles & bicyclists are cool. Come on, everyone knows it. Want to be cool? Get on a bike. It can be a road bike, cruiser, city bike, folding bike, mountain bike, or something else, but chances are that no matter what kind of bike it is, it will make you cooler.

9. Bicycling is efficient and fast. As perhaps the most efficient mode of transport, bicycling can get you someplace using minimal energy and time. In cities, in particular, which are, by definition, places where a lot of people live in relatively small areas, moving around by bike rather than a large automobile can be faster for many or most trips. 40% of trips in the U.S. are 2 miles or less, perfect distances for bicycling, and you don’t have to spend time in traffic, finding parking, filling up on gas, or waiting for a bus or subway train.

10. You can forget about parking. Another things Americans love — finding parking… not! It is a complaint of too many people. But what did I just mention above? Cities are dense places. Cars don’t exactly fit well in them. Rather than struggle to find parking in a dense city, you can easily lock your bike up right outside the entrance of your destination and skip that whole mess.

Some good reasons to bike today (& every day)? I think so.

Now, I didn’t mention this above, but since today is bike to work day… a lot of employers offer benefits or cash for bicycling to work these days (since it saves them money on parking, increases your work performance, decreases your sick days, and makes them look good). Check out if your employer does (or try to convince them to) and, if they do, add that to the list above somewhere.

More reasons bicycling is great & you should bike to work today?

Related Stories:

  1. Berlin — Bike Paradise
  2. #7 Berlin, Germany: Great Bicycle City Photo Tour
  3. #6 Groningen, Netherlands: Great Bicycle City Photo Tour
  4. #5 Paris, France: Great Bicycle City Photo Tour
  5. #3 Portland, Oregon (USA): Great Bicycle City Photo Tour
  6. #1 Amsterdam, the Netherlands: Great Bicycle City Photo Tour
  7. 17 Reasons Why Bicycles Are the Most Popular Vehicle in the World Today

 
Photos via tuppusBaptiste PonsBikePortland.orgrobokow ; TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³npGREENWAY ; Matthew StinsonM.J.S. ; gabriel amadeusgregraisman ; drain ; sebastien.b




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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he's the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.



  • thomas lash

    The guys with the really tall bikes are wearing helmets but would be better off wearing a few more pads like a full suite. From 10 feet and 20 MPH a helmet will not offer you much help. I visited a state where you don’t need a helmet on a motor cycle. Guess how many people riding bicycles were wearing helmets.

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  • http://twitter.com/feralrobots Eric Scoles

    You can’t really forget about parking. in fact, it’s one of the significant downsides, because you’re always having to lock up your bike in places you don’t really feel comfortable leaving it. Thus good locks & a strong, long & substantial cable are essential parts of a bike commuter’s kit.

    Plus, the non-grass-roots parts of American bike culture (e.g. the magazines, manufacturers, etc.) can be a bit commuter-hostile, with their insistence on cool clothes, overly fancy bikes, and trendiness (who really needs a fixie and why in the world should it cost so much?)

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      Ha, when I first glanced at the top part of your comment, I thought, “Oh yeah! Parking a car is a such a PITA. Parking a bike is so much easier and nicer.” So, I guess my reply is: despite the issues you bring up, I give bike parking a huge plus over car parking.

      Regarding the magazines: i don’t read them, so i don’t know.

      • UKGary

        Parking a bike is not always so easy! I was in Denmark some years ago and in Copenhagen there were places where it was hard to find bicycle parking – especially near the central railway station. You are lucky to get a parking space among the 2,000 or so bicycle spaces, and may have to go to the local multi-story car park a few hundred metres away where the ground floor is given over to free bicycle parking.

        • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

          Ha, yes, it was the same in the Groningen (NL) train station, as well as some other popular spots.

  • Alex

    I bike to school and work when it is warm. But the problem with it is my backpack is so heavy.

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      Understandable. Nonetheless, there are good bikes made for biking with such cargo. And it’s better exercise anyway! :D

    • http://twitter.com/feralrobots Eric Scoles

      Get a rear rack. That opens up a bunch of options w.r.t. saddlebags. There are even DIY projects to help you adapt existing packs to saddlebags.

  • Richard Steen

    Too bad in places like Texas everything is too spread out to make this practical

  • http://eco-logic-view.org mag

    Hi there, great article!
    I am working at the moment on new project called “bikes and their positive influence on the environment” Just done with series of videos from Amsterdam, The Netherlands and will continue in Oslo, Norway where eco-logic-view.org is established. Anyway, I see that you are talking about “national bike-to-work-day” It would be great to do that on the world scale, not only in the US but all over the world. That would require some cooperation, but I am sure we could do it! I am planning to do some campaign here in Oslo and in Poland. Anyone interested in idea, please contact me!
    eco-logic-view.org

    • http://zacharyshahan.com Zachary Shahan

      I’m in Poland, so I’d be interested! :D

  • P Smith

    The writer forgot another good reason for riding: Excitement. There’s a big thrill in hitting 40kmh (25mph) on roads and going fast off road among trees, rocks and mud. The risk of crashing, the excitement of speed are as good as any you can get from driving a fast car. Cycling fast in summer is as fun as downhill skiing in winter. I’ve got the scars and the smiles to prove it.

    • http://zacharyshahan.com Zachary Shahan

      I was basically including that under “fun.” But thanks for chiming in and making that more explicit. :D

  • P. Anonymot

    You left out an important item. Bicyclers also get to recycle the production of exhaust fumes from trucks, buses, cars, scooters, motorcycles, and fishing boats if they cycle dockside. They breathe ll that in, filter it with their lungs, and exhale healthy human carbon monoxide. Yesiree Sir, don’t bicycle in the countryside. Do it in the city and clean the air.It’s part of the fight for clean air.

    Buy shares in Bike corps. I bought shares in knee and hip replacement parts manufacturers when the media started hyping the jogging craze and got rich. Here’s another golden opportunity.

    • xclvet

      One: everyone breathes in emissions from cars,et al – no matter what form of transportation they use. Two: humans exhale unhealthy carbon dioxide, not monoxide. It’s only unhealthy because there aren’t enough plants to take it in. Three: claim anything you like on the net – like how rich you are. Just don’t expect me to take the word of a perfect stranger. Four: have some more tea. Five: no, I don’t expect you to agree. Six: happy fourth of July.

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  • http://www.greenbusinessowner.com scott

    Benefit 11: buns of steel. :) Skip all the boring gym workouts, lunges…just bike to work and your derrier will look wicked good.

    • http://zacharyshahan.com Zachary Shahan

      :D

    • xclvet

      Also legs and cardiovascular system. (12, 13)

    • xclvet

      So you might lead other’s to believe. Actually, cross training is a good way to prevent repetitive use injuries -particularly with weight machines. Doing only one physical activity is the opposite. Think pro tour cyclists don’t weight train? Guess again.
      Still, for the typical commuter or occational/recreational cyclist: one activity is better than none.

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    • xclvet

      So true. It’s also good for your health (preventive medicine . ) Healthy people are less inclined to be sick , by definition. But that was already touched upon in the above article.

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  • Junk

    Why is almost nobody in your photos wearing a helmet?  Stupid.

    • Anonymous

      most of the helmet-less ones are from Europe or Japan, where people generally don’t where helmets

      • http://twitter.com/GypsyChief Gypsy Chief (@GypsyChief)

        I don’t understand the part about hearing the clicks of broken bicycles when you lived in Groning, Netherlands. How were these bicycles broken?

    • Janos73

      Being Dutch I have never worn a helmet on my bicycle (except down hill in France on a holiday). Speeds are low (15-20 Mph) and there is not a lot of accidents.

      • xclvet

        Silly! Why would you wear a helmet on your bicycle or your Neder regions for that matter?! (nyuh, nyuh, nyuh – vague, B & W, US TV reference – “Oh! Wise guy!!” “Soytanly!” ) You wear it on your head!
        Maybe people in Nederland have evolved thicker skulls and less flexible spines , or aren’t concerned about concussions, nor skull fractures. Or maybe since pot is prevalent there, so I’ve heard, they do naturally ride much slower along with those in cars, who sit in them only to eat snacks. ;) Maybe the Dutch have better access to health care – very likely compared to the US, and thus are less concerned about preventing injury.
        In any event, newer findings prove that cephalic neurons continue to be grown by the body. So, no worries mate. Yes, I do wear a helmet and it hasn’t diminished my male bravado one bit. Took me all of one time being catapulted over the handlebars to figure this out. Also, bicycling on slippery (wet) roads with thin tires ups the odds of a spill on turns.
        Speaking of a good idea for male, frequent, longer distance riders(more than one hour on the bike) : a seat with a cut out to prevent damage to the prostate gland, over time. Also, clipless pedals. Both serve to decrease the occurrence of leg numbness.

    • xclvet

      Because people in other countries are indestructable? Judging from the Tour de France, everyone wears a helmet.

      Speaking of the weird: I see off road bicyclists wearing chest padding and leg protection, yet they ride on softer surfaces than pavement. (Yes, even in other countries.)

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