You see them in nearly every major city when the weather’s nice — people biking to and fro as they go about their daily tasks. Some do it because their commute is short, others for the environmental benefits. Some really appreciate the exercise that it provides, or simply enjoy the beautiful weather. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of biking instead of driving.
Lower Commuting Costs
One of the main benefits of biking compared to driving is the fact that it’s a great way to save money. Bicycles require no fuel — other than the food you were planning on eating anyway — and very little maintenance. The average cost of owning a car is more than $9,000 a year, or 60.8 cents per mile driven. This is based on an average of 15,000 miles driven per year and includes costs like depreciation, maintenance and fuel.
A bicycle, on the other hand, will run you maybe $25 a month for maintenance and the occasional part replacement — even on bikes that are getting hundreds of miles put on them every month. You also don’t have the additional cost of car registration, insurance or payments when you’re riding a bike.
We all know exercise is good for us. It keeps us healthy and when paired with a healthy diet, it reduces our chances of developing health problems like diabetes and heart disease.
Biking is a fantastic cardio workout that also has some strength-training benefits as well. It can be good for anyone, particularly anyone suffering from back problems who might not be able to run or walk long distances. The wheels and suspension take much of the impact that could translate into back pain. For bikers who can’t lean forward for long periods of time without pain, a recumbent bike that allows you to lean backward is a great option.
Studies have found that commuting or even spending too much time behind the wheel of a car can have negative effects on the driver’s health. Driving more than 10 miles for your daily commute can raise your blood sugar, increase your cholesterol and blood pressure, and raise your risk for depression and anxiety. It can even affect your sleep and cause back pain, depending on how you sit when you’re in the driver’s seat.
Reduced Carbon Footprint
You may be considering switching to biking to reduce your personal carbon footprint, which is the amount of CO2 you produce.
Biking reduces your direct carbon footprint by reducing the number of CO2 emissions caused by your car. According to the EPA, your average passenger vehicle emits more than 4.6 tons of CO2 every year, depending on how efficient the car is and how often it is driven. Biking has zero direct CO2 emissions, though there are some indirect sources of CO2, such as the foods that you eat.
Reducing your meat intake is a good way to reduce your indirect carbon footprint. The meat industry generates 42 percent of the agricultural greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. The more meat you eat, the higher your biking carbon footprint is because you’re using that meat to fuel your bicycle’s engine (you) just like the gasoline fuels your car.
Vegetarian or vegan diets have a significantly lower carbon footprint, especially if you buy and eat local produce and proteins. Regardless of your overall diet, biking is a great way to reduce your carbon emissions.
Fewer Traffic Jams
Many people’s commutes don’t take a long time because of the distance they have to travel — it’s because of the number of people sharing the road. In large cities, it becomes a massive problem. In Los Angeles, which ranked No. 1 for the worst traffic congestion in the world, drivers spent an average of 102 hours in traffic jams during 2016.
Biking means you never have to worry about traffic jams. Plus, you’re almost guaranteed the best parking spot near your business or school.
Biking has a great number of benefits, from improving your health to reducing your annual commuting costs. If your commute is short but takes you a lot longer than it should because of traffic congestion — or you want to reduce your carbon footprint — consider switching to a bicycle.