Reducing Environmental Footprint Through Bicycle Commuting

We are always looking for new ideas that we can suggest as a way for students to help the environment. Ideally, these tips are the type of ideas they can carry into their new careers with them after college.

Something we as student body have been working hard on promoting during May is bicycle commuting (www.davescheapbikes.com/best-commuting-bikes).  Our goal is that by synergizing our publicity efforts with the upcoming bike to work month, we can raise awareness and inspire more people to ride.

 

Advantages

Very few of us need cars. We live close to campus and, even when we go home, many of us use the bus or train. Granted, there are long-distance trips that need a vehicle. We will concede that point. But, if the lifestyle can be adjusted to allow for grouping those long trips together into occasional events, it can reduce the need even to own a vehicle.

Ridesharing can pick up those gaps.

Ditching the vehicle not only reduces your ecological impact, but it also empowers the budget by skirting the need for vehicle payments and insurance.

Cycling is considered the most efficient manner of transportation. It is faster than walking and enables you to travel faster, and farther using less energy than running requires.

One could argue that we are the most efficient source for transportation when you realize that humans have been calculated to have 25% energy efficiency to gasoline vehicle’s 20% (that is not counting the cost of energy to process fuel).

Some back-of-the-napkin math hypothesizes that horses are twice as efficient as cars so that they might give we humans a run for our money.

There are also the fitness benefits. In our sedentary society, having a reason to get out and exercise can do wonders for reducing our insulin resistance and encouraging weight loss and overall health.

Even if you can replace your driving with just 2-3 days of commuting by bicycle, you can do your part toward establishing a sustainable society.

Dealing With Drawbacks

Sweat

The first concern riders have is maintaining a clean, fresh appearance when riding. For this reasons, it makes sense to wear separate clothes for cycling, especially if it is hot out or you will be riding for longer than 20 minutes.

Wet wipes can make all of the difference in your freshness. A quick dry off with paper towels or wet wipes (or a towel you carry with you) can do wonders at removing the stench. Removing the sweat removes the bacteria-growing environment that creates body odor.

 

Weather

Granted, it may not work to ride in the rain. Although with a rain jacket and a waterproof backpack, you could likely still complete the ride.

Sometimes a close eye on a good weather app can help you navigate storms. You might leave a little earlier or later, but that attention to weather might be all it takes some days to allow still you to ride.

One of the advantages of an eco-focused mindset is that it turns us more in tune with nature and what is occurring around us.

 

Distance

A lightweight road bike can easily travel 30 miles in a couple of hours with just minimal training. Vintage road bikes are often sold online and in local sales for under $100.

Picking up one that fits you can significantly expand the range of what you think is possible when it comes to cycling.

 

Theft

Cycling to a destination puts your bicycle at higher risk for theft. Carrying it in with you is ideal, in those scenarios where you are allowed to do that.

Otherwise, investing in a high-quality lock is always advisable. A locking Seatpost and locking wheels can help prevent those vulnerable components from being lifted while you are inside.

Of course, this a risk no matter what your form of transportation is, but thinking ahead and investing in a lock can do a lot to help you prevent that.

 

Lighting/Visibility

It is worthwhile to invest in a rear blinking light. When sharing the road with larger vehicles, it is beneficial to have as much visibility as possible.

Even in the daytime, wearing bright colors or a bright vest can help protect you by making you more visible to other drivers.

Headlights are typically required by law for after dark riding and is recommended, even for daytime driving.

In the US, over 700 people are killed every year in cycling accidents, and in the Eu, that number is closer to 300.

Be aware of your surroundings. Articulated trucks, Lorries with poor visibility and semi’s offer some of the highest risk to cyclists. Don’t hesitate to get off the road anytime you feel unsafe.

 

Bags Or Backpack?

Finally, that age-old question.

Most people who commute on a regular basis will find that attaching baskets or saddlebags to their bicycle will enhance their experience. They can carry more with less effort.

Backpacks are nice for lightweight loads and for keeping the laptop safe, but a basket attached to your bike is ideal for carrying books, beer and other groceries.

If you commute for a few weeks, you will likely choose to upgrade to a rear-mounted basket. Keep in mind that front mounted baskets cannot carry as much as rear mounted ones and they can effect your steering.