The primary reason why a computer nerd such as myself manages to stay in great shape is because I travel everywhere by bicycle. As simple as this sounds, I think it may just be the single most important part of my personal healthy micro-environment.
Unfortunatly, the world seems completely oblivious to this fantastic source of healthy living. In an American survey, it was found that only 1.8% of trips under 3 miles long are biked. It was also found that a full 43% of all car trips are less than 3 miles long.
Aside from the massive health benefits, a bicycle can often get from A to B faster than a car if you take into account all the traffic, the struggle to find parking and the short-cuts often available for bicycles. A number of innovative solutions also exist for transporting goods by bike.
In addition, now that e-bikes are becoming more popular, the possible distance that can be covered by bicycle is increasing even further. Please read the compelling arguments for buying an e-bike given here.
Finally, the cost of bicycles (ecologically and economically) is negligible in comparison to cars. All included, the average car will cost you about $8000 every year, raise your carbon footprint by about 3 tons of CO2 per year and consume a lot of oil – something that may just become a real problem quite soon because of peak oil. Bicycles have none of these massive disadvantages and if you combine this with the tremendous health benefits they offer, choosing a bike really becomes a no-brainer.
The ideal is of course to go completely carless. Unfortunately, because the macro-environment we live in today is actually designed for cars and not for people, this will be practically impossible for many people. This does not mean that you cannot make those 43% of car trips which are shorter than 3 miles by bike though.
You might also want to consider making use of some innovative car share schemes. If you only drive occasionally, such schemes are much cheaper than owning your own car. They also offer you a wide range of vehicles and save you all the usual hassles of car ownership.
Personally, I only need a car two or three times per year to transport some heavy goods (I usually just borrow a friend’s car for this purpose) and once every year or two for a holiday (in this case I simply rent). The result is massive health benefits, cost savings, environmental savings and hassle savings.
So, why not give this a try? It certainly is one of the smartest things I have ever done.