Biking is one of the best ways of getting around; it’s good for the body, it’s good on the environment, it’s good for your wallet, and it’s quicker and more fun than walking. In fact, biking is one of the best alternative ways of traveling, and with modern public transportation accommodating the modern biker, it is shaping up to be one healthy, environmentally friendly way of getting around.
We’ve identified three general benefits of biking: the benefit for the body, the benefit for the environment, and the benefit for the wallet. Let’s check each one out and see why biking may just be the best form of eco-travel.
Benefits for the Body
Probably most importantly, biking is a great exercise. Doing thousands of repetitions, this aerobic exercise helps boost cardiovascular health and circulation. The ventricles around the heart will increase in diameter, and the whole heart muscle will actually grow. This means higher stroke volume and, in effect, a more efficient heart. Interestingly, those who engage in lots of aerobic exercise are able to get their resting heart rate very, very below normal. This isn’t something to worry about: the heart simply becomes efficient enough to work at a lower capacity. In fact, this is great; it is correlated with longer life and a healthier body.
As a part of getting better cardiovascular health, you begin to train your body to burn fat more regularly. You begin to lower your cholesterol, your blood pressure, and your stress too. One benefit of taking on an exercise like this is that it is most people can engage in it. Why? Well, biking is a low impact activity, meaning it avoids a lot of stress on the joints. That’s good news for those with sensitive joints, who may consider a leisurely bike ride every day just to keep the blood flowing and the muscles exercsing. At the same time, a serious athlete can push biking to the limits and get a great workout.
Benefits for the Environment
Biking also holds great benefits to the environment.
For instance, compare a biker to a car driver. Look purely at the vehicle, the biker’s main environmental impact will be the production of the bike. While there will be a carbon footprint associated with it, it is nowhere near the carbon footprint of an average car, as one would probably assume.
Likewise, compare the environmental impact of use. The biker will rarely need to chain his or her bike chains, tires, and seat. The biker will never need to burn gasoline or any other type of fuel, other than the owner’s ATP. On the other hand, the driver will probably fill up the tank every other few days or weeks, depending on the commute. Overall, once you average between passenger vehicles and light trucks, each car releases about 14,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. Needless to say, the only carbon dioxide that comes from biking is from the natural release via the biker.
Benefits for the Wallet
One of the best things about biking is the cost. Once you’ve invested in the bike, it’s pretty much free from there. Sure, you have to replace gear every once in a long while, but the price of these are usually very cheap (under $100), depending on your brand and model. It’s smart to factor in public transportation, however, because sometimes bikes can’t get you were you need to go due to the distance or physical barriers. Regardless, biking is overall very cheap and great for people like college students.
Driving, on the other hand, is a constant expenditure. Gas, insurance, tune-ups, headlights, oil changes – you get the idea. Cars, while extremely convenient, are extremely expensive if you keep them in good shape. In fact, according to U.S. Department of Labor’s U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average vehicle costs over $8,000 per year to own and operate – that a lot of new bikes!
Weighing the Benefits
Overall, bikes are a better form of eco-travel, but that’s not to say cars are all bad. Cars are convenient, helpful, and are better suited for rough weather like rain, snow, and hail (trust me, hail storms are no place for a biker). Just remember some green-saving tips when driving – it’ll help keep down costs, both for gas and maintenance.