If you have watched the Ways 2 Go Green video on the home page, it is reminder enough of the reasons that we do need to change how we work in this world, including the way we transport ourselves from one place to another. It shows that gas prices are soaring and the US consumes 17 million barrels of oil per day. In fact the resulting climate change and the growing environmental problems in the world may be one big worldwide problem that brings us all together if the dangers continue to escalate. A common enemy has a way of doing that, but unfortunately or perhaps fortunately in this case, the enemy is ourselves. We need to make better choices for ourselves and for everyone.
Cycling is one of those positive choices and it is nothing new. Cycling has stood the test of time as being one of the best modes of transportation on many levels. Studies show that out of the 20 most desirable cities to live in the world, the majority of those cities have well developed bicycle lanes and cycling communities. The best thing about cycling is that it is not just an environmentally friendly mode of transportation, it is fantastic for the body and for the mind.
In fact you actually get healthier when you transport yourself somewhere with your bike. There are numerous proven health benefits that come with regularly cycling which include:
- Cutting your risk of heart disease in half if done regularly for 30 minutes a day
- Helping to keep your ideal weight and improving insulin resistance.
- Improves your cholesterol profile
- Decreases the slow degeneration of your cardiovascular and respiratory function
- Has very little negative impact on the body, unlike jogging that has the constant pounding of your feet on the pavement, or contact sports where your body is impacting against other athletes.
There are also great mental benefits. The scenery whizzing by, the enjoyment of the sport and the energy that it takes to keep on peddling gets your attention and thoughts off the problems of the day and miraculously clears the head. It does wonders for reducing stress levels when done consistently… meditation in motion as I like to call it.
Being someone myself who decided to give up my car for a bicycle many years ago to try and reduce my own damage to the planet, I know that it is not an easy or even possible choice for everyone. The first time I tried it, it did not work as my life totally revolved around my car at that time. Choosing to ride my bike or take the bus everywhere proved unfeasible. I succeeded a few years later after being more practical about it.
Here are a few tips for people wishing to lower their CO2 contribution to the planet and incorporate more cycling into your daily life.
Be Proactive in Your Thinking
If you decide to ride because you feel you should but don’t really want to, it will become a burden on your shoulders and you will eventually stop. Ride if it is something you want to do, and be proactive in your thinking.
Proactive people are positive people who take responsibility for their choices. They don’t grumble that there aren’t enough bike lanes or that there are too many cars on the road. They take action to help the city see the need for more bike lanes and positively tell others about the benefit of biking. You don’t ride because you have to, you ride because you want to!
Give Yourself Time to Slowly Decrease Your Circle of Influence
As I learned the hard way, when you are used to going everywhere with your car, you can not cut it out in a day. A car gives you the ability to go somewhere quickly, but what comes with that is the stress of traffic and damage to the Earth.
If you really want to decrease your car usage, it is important to slowly bring your life closer to home. I was working three part time jobs in very distant locations and flying all over the place when I had a car. I needed to center my working activity to a closer location, which took some time and gradual planning. I eventually found closer-to-home places that I could shop for groceries and centered my personal activities more nearby. For activities that were still farther away, I took the bus, but needed to schedule more time for that in my day.
In a strange way, once I adjusted, I found not having a car slowed down my life. This made things a little more peaceful which is pretty nice if you can do it.
Find a Riding Comrade
It is so much better for your enthusiasm and your enjoyment if you ride with a friend. With all things in life, we are stronger in groups. If you ride to work or go shopping with a friend who bikes with you, your friend will depend on you and you on your friend. In absence of a cycling buddy, you can join a riding group and meet like minded individuals.
Use Good Common Sense
Everyone is at a different health level and if you are new to biking then be sure to start easy. There is no reason to bike long distances or up crazy hills until you build up your endurance.
As times goes on, your body will crave the exercise after it becomes a regular routine for some time. Also be careful on the roads with cars, use proper reflectors or lights and wear proper gear. Be prepared for the change of weather. Nothing dampers a cycling experience more then an unnecessary accident.
Take Care of Your Bicycle
If you look after your bike, your bike will look after you. I always recommend that riders learn some basic home bike mechanics when adopting cycling into your life. It has a way of building ownership towards your sport and allows you to better understand how your two wheeled vehicle works.
Home bike repair knowledge is available on the internet or in books, and you only need a few tools to get started. How to fix a tire is essential and it is a good idea to bring a tire replacement kit along if you ride long distances. Keeping your bike clean goes a long ways, and if you learn how to change an old chain, you can consider yourself a bike mechanic pro.
The bicycle has really stood the test of time. It keeps your body fit, clears your mind and most importantly it helps get you to where you need to be without any damage to your community or environment. It is an excellent “green” way to travel, and the increasing use of bicycles in cities all over the world show that people do want to make a positive difference. I have hope for a better future, and believe the bicycle will be a strong part of it.
Sam Walker is “pro-biker” and has written numerous articles on the benefits of cycling and home bike repair. He is currently researching and reviewing bike repair stands for people interested in home bicycle mechanics, including the popular Park Tool PCS-10.