Friday, April 1, 2011

Bicycling Costs and Benefits

Bicycle riding is convenient, saves money and provides health benefits. These are my primary reasons for continuing to get around on two-wheels.

Bicycling is an easy way for me to get from A-to-B. Most of my trips are less than two miles as I live within a relatively small orbit of home (traveling generally from home to work and to downtown Columbia, Missouri.) There is always ample bicycle parking somewhere near the door of my destination. Sure, that bike parking may be a handicapped parking sign or a smallish landscape tree, but it works. I avoid the busier streets in Columbia favoring parallel collectors and arterials to get where I need to go. Were I to choose more heavily trafficked streets with higher speeds for bicycle commuting, I might get where I was headed quicker but possibly be out of breath and likely stressed-out upon arrival. I'll pick the quieter streets to get where I need to go as do most of my fellow bicyclists. The convenience of bicycling remains a primary benefit.

Savings is a huge benefit that leads to me choosing a bike over a car for my travel mode. The routine costs of bicycling include time spent cleaning my chain (Cost: ~15 minutes/week). Admittedly this is a task I am often slow to do. After riding throughout our very wet last winter my lack of regular chain cleaning resulted in my ride needing a new rear derailleur less than 6 months after the last one was installed (Cost of not cleaning chain often enough: ~$40). Another cost includes occasional new tubes (Why do so many Columbians chuck their Budweiser bottles out the car window and into the bicycle lane?!?! Cost: Varies but averages $10/year). There is the cost of time spent bicycling. Except in heavy traffic where a bicycle has the advantage, I move slower than most cars and possibly the bus (Cost: ~5-10 minutes per commute.) The additional fresh air and exercise make up for the extra time in the saddle. Finally, were I to drive to work the University of Missouri where I work would charge me $17/month to park my car in one of their spots. Bicycle parking remains free. It is not covered parking, but it is free.

Finally, health is a major benefit when I bicycle to work, shop or socialize. I didn't set out to make the healthy choice. It found me. My bike commute to work takes 15 minutes. Sometimes less if I am in a hurry, sometimes more if I get distracted and stop to check something out. The research I read on exercise says that walking would be heart-healthier, but I rarely get it together to leave home early enough to walk anywhere. Okay, if the truth must be told I only walk when I have a flat tire on my bike, when my wife invites me on the dog walk with her or when we go to the woods for a hike. I honestly love moving by bicycle. It feels liberating to ride plus I am getting a little bit of exercise on my one-and-a-half mile bike commute to work or downtown.

My ride gives me convenience, health benefits and is a cheap way to travel. All good things. Why do you ride?

Thanks for reading. See you in the streets. -Tre

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