At this time of year, with shorter days, low temperatures, and nasty salt laden roadways with patches of ice, our bicycles are long forgotten and stored in some remote hallway or corner of the garage, only to be hastily retrieved on that first fabulously warm spring day.
But actually, now it is the time to start preparing for more humane weather conditions and biking days – days when you can pull out your bike and use it to run that short errand. Besides, do you really need a two ton, CO2 belching car to accomplish the task of picking-up a few pounds of merchandise, a tiny vile of medicine, or a container of milk?
Eighty percent of Americans lived in urban areas. Green Car reports (writing from an electric car perspective) that the average single-trip distance is just 5.95 miles and for 95 percent who drive to work, the average commute distance is 13.6 miles.
That large majority is fortunate to have just about every imaginable convenience within a relatively flat, one or two mile pedal from home. Most of us have every convenience within a few miles of our residences. Coffee shops, doctors, dentists, banks, convenience stores, bakeries, grocery stores, pet shops, paint and hardware stores, bookstores, pharmacies, barber shops, salons, swimming pools, even auto shops are all a short ride away.
So why do we default to using the car every time? Cause we are creatures of habit and its comfy ! Although, its not so comfy as we sit in traffic or frantically search for a coveted parking spot. Next time, breeze by the gridlock on your bike and smile!
The Environmental Benefit
The environmental benefit is immediate! Instead of driving a typical car with its 20 miles per gallon average on countless errands, let’s assume that 10 miles are saved every month between May and October from your car to your bike. For the average U.S. car that avoids spewing 600 cubic feet of CO2, enough to fill an 8 x 8 room. Saving Mother Nature a decade of work absorbing all that excess CO2.
For 95% of commuters who drive, the average work commute is 13.6 miles. The average daily drive total for urban-based cars was just 36.5 miles, while rural-based cars drove an average of 48.6 miles according to Green Car Reports.
Imagine if we all could shave 5, 10 or even 15 miles off this weekly average! Shaving 10 miles off your average would save that 600 cubic fee of CO2, enough to fill an 8 x 8 room. Saving Mother Nature a lot of work.
Making This Lofty Thought A Reality:
Everything in Working Order – The reason why Green Blizzard decided to publish this carbon footprint reducing suggestion now, in the colder months, is because from experience we’ve learned that this is the absolute best time to take-in your bike for a tune-up. Bike shops are hungry for your business, have time to spend with you, and oftentimes offer winter tune-up specials. If you delay until spring, the wait will be weeks, maybe even a month before its been adjusted. If the bike is relatively new and lightly-used, and one that’s been properly stored, most likely its ready to GO! If it’s been few years since the last tune-up and its had some use, take it in for a check-up. It may need new tubes to hold the necessary pressure for long periods of time. The bike needs to always ready and waiting to wiggle its way into your lifestyle.
Set A Short Goal: Think about all the errands you run every week and pick 2 or 3 that could just as easily, or more easily, be accomplished by bike. Start small and build over several months, working more miles into your lifestyle. Soon it will be second-nature to grab you bike lock keys instead of your car keys and that bike will be ready and itching to GO!
Get A Good Basket – Keeping your hands free is critical. There are all sorts of options online and at your local bike shop. Look for either front handle bar detachable baskets that can serve as a shopping basket, or rear wheel collapsible baskets that can hold bulky items. Also, comfortable backpack can be invaluable on errands. These options are popular with our staff: Sunlite Standard Mesh Bottom Lift-Off Basket, Nantucket Stained Bicycle Basket, Retrospec Bicycles Cane Woven Rectangular “Toto” Basket, Schwinn Quick Release Wire Basket, or Bushwhacker Rear Pair of Bags.
Get a Good Lock – The new really thick cable combination locks work well. These are flexible and there’s no key to lose. Just set the combo to your birth-date for memory ease. These options are popular with our staff:Kryptonite Kryptolok U-Lock with 4-Foot Flex Cable, Etronic Combination Cable with Lock, or Cocoweb U-Lock with Flex Loop Cable. And the ultimate, never have to worry about your bike lock – Kryptonite Keeper Integrated Chain Bicycle Lock.
Keep Your Bike Accessible – Successful transition to a bicycle friendly lifestyle depends on making sure its readily accessible, not buried under an avalanche of belongings. Its got to be ready to go – otherwise, you’ll return to your old driving habits.
Stress-Free Benefits – Putting environmental benefits aside, most important is the stress-free factor. Errands on a bicycle are actually easier, less stressful, and a healthy, hassle-free alternative to jumping into our over-powered cars. No parking meters to feed or finding that last parking spot on the top floor of the parking garage.
Participate in Bike to Work Day – This may come as news, but May is National Bike Month. In fact, In 2016, Bike to Work Week will be May 16-20, with Bike to Work Day on May 20, 2016. Mark your calendars now.
Map a Bike Route – Google Maps bike feature is really helpful planning your track, helping you find short-cuts only available to bike, incorporate parks into your ride, and stay on the side streets.
So get off the couch and bike more. Give it a try, it’s a blast. And parking is FREE.