Everyone’s taking up some or the other practice to reduce their carbon footprint (at least I’m proud to be in a circle that is). Half of my circle has turned to locally sourced vegan/vegetarian food. There are quite some zero-wasters I know, and virtually everyone is an internet activist. It was nothing new for me to be advised a more eco-friendly option for something I do regularly. But something clicked when my best friend’s wife suggested me to try biking. Can’t be bothered to park and store one? Try a foldable one, she said. They were pretty cheap, so I decided to try them out just to show I did care for their opinions for once. It was good leverage, I thought. Yet 2 months later, I’m beginning to think it was a great idea to switch from driving my car to work to getting a foldable bike (it was a Montague Paratrooper I got cheap since it was second hand, in case anyone’s curious) . Here’s a few reasons I found biking advantageous over driving every day.
1. Bikes are incredibly easy to store
My bike was foldable, so I could take it with me to my office and keep it under my desk till it was time to leave. When I got home, I could keep it next to the door, under the stairs. My company charges deducts a small amount for parking privileges in the compound, so I was glad to save that bit of my salary. And my driveway never looked more spacious and welcoming, because I was so used to cycling to work 6 weeks into the experiment that I didn’t have a reason to say no when my daughter asked to take the car to college.
2. These bikes are effortless to carry
I’m over 40, and my family already treats me like I’m 80 because I’m just that weak, thanks to an accident I got into a few years ago. But carrying the bike from the entrance to my office, up a flight of stairs was no problem at all. Bikes I’ve tried to lift are no more difficult than lifting a big bag of detergent at Walmart. It was no difficulty convincing them I could do this, and I’m still fine, perhaps even a bit healthier now than when I started.
3. They’re cheaper than most other commuting options
I paid under $400 for the bike when I bought it. In the two months that I’ve driven it, I’ve saved myself at least 4 trips to the gas station, and since they’re easier to maintain than a car, I can’t even count how much I’ll be saving on servicing and cab rides when I don’t have my car and need to go somewhere.
4. Bikes are just so much more shareable
I don’t need to worry about who I give my car keys to. If they’re wearing a helmet and pads, and have their eyes and ears open, neither them nor my bike will come to harm. There’s no question of someone dinging my bike, plus if they do, my bike was pretty durable. Plus I’ve left my bike unattended and unlocked in parkings, and nobody tried to take off with them, which is more than I can say for a car. Within a month on bringing my bike to work, I got pretty popular among my colleagues who wanted to run errands to ask for my bike.
5. Foldability makes the bikes versatile
Ok this one is specifically about foldable bikes. My nephew is pretty athletic and sporty, so he asked for my bike over the weekend. He carried the folded bike on his back and went running for a few miles, and then rode the bike through the glade on a shortcut back home. He liked it so much he’s saving to get his own in a few months, because he only wants a first hand bike.
6. They’re great exercise
Being a Quadragenarian and working a desk job is not the best situation for one’s health as my doctor keeps telling me. It was pretty tough to get exercise working through the week, and there’s not a lot of motivation over the weekend to move a single muscle. Biking eliminated the need to find time. The time I was pushing the accelerator in my car became the time I was accelerating my bike with manual effort. I burn an additional 800 calories everyday according to Google, which is more than the calories I consume in an average day’s lunch. And of days I’m tired, I need not race through the neighborhood; I can just amble through the streets on my bike and still reach home faster than I did on my car. Which brings me to my last advantage…
7. No traffic woes!
I spent nearly an hour on the road commuting from my home to work, not because the two locations are so far apart, but because things are super-slow on the road. I save at least half that time now. Plus if things get really horrible, I can always fold my bike right up and walk to cross the bottleneck, unfold my bike and ride the rest of the way as usual! It’s a lot more convenient than having to stay at the same spot till things clear up in front of you. I can now get more out of my day.
All of that adds to other advantages, such as more stamina (I can now climb stairs with observably less effort) and getting to know my neighborhood and the streets around my workplace a lot better than I could have, being sealed in my car. There’s some obvious limitations too, like not being able to ferry people, or not being able to bring home heavier stuff from the store because balancing becomes a bit difficult for me when there’s something heavier strapped to the carrier behind me. But I’ve been exploring the local glade on my bike over the weekends, taking inspiration from my nephew, and I know that would never have been had I still been on my car.
Technology sure makes life easier and fun too. But there are some things we can only gather when we’re not helped by advanced machines. I didn’t try out biking because I was going to save the environment; that’s just a by-product. Biking just happens to keep me more abreast with the world around me. That’s what I love the most about it, even more than the advantages of having a foldable bike that I just listed for you.