When I first got on a bicycle and started pedaling, the feeling I experienced was power.
A sense of power unleashed through using my legs. I felt powerful that I could move this two-wheeled vehicle by propelling it forward.
The next feeling which developed as I rode along briskly, was a sense of liberation from the sheer freedom of speeding along the road. The wind hit my face and the exposed parts of my body, slowly dissipating along its contours.
But bike riding isn’t just a physical rush, it’s a lifeline for our environment:
There’s little doubt that the release of huge quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere can cause significant changes in climatic patterns and cycles and these emissions are still taking place on a sustained basis. The US Environmental Protection Agency says that nearly 12,000 pounds of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere each year, meaning that for every mile driven, one pound of carbon dioxide is released into the air to boost global warming. As an individual biker like you or me can reduce our contribution to the CO2 global warming tally by 20 percent. That’s an impressive drop.
Dependence on fossil fuel.
There’s absolutely no need to totally depend on fossil fuel as an energy source. When we think about this dependence seriously and consider the bad side effects of that dependence, we would change our mode of commuting. But right now developed countries such as the US rely heavily on fossil fuel as a primary source of energy. This means that every gallon of fuel used in car tanks is extracted from the ground and, although highly efficient, fossil fuel has become the cause of much unrest and environmental hazards such as in the Gulf of Mexico. With more people riding bicycles instead of cars, the heavy dependence on fossil fuel will decline.
Land for more roadways.
The construction of roadways indirectly boosts demand for fossil fuel. New roadways means greater access to more comfortable and convenient travelling which most of us tend to prefer. However, we fail to realize that by opting to ride a bicycle instead of a car, we preserve the landscapes around that that we love. While riding along the road one day I spotted an area that used to be pristine bush now turned barren and my heart sank. Riding a bicycle instead of a car would have saved a landscape I truly loved to look at.
Non-recyclable material as landfill waste.
There is an enormous amount of non-recyclable waste material from discarded cars every year. According to Argonne National Labs in the US, about 75% of a total car can be recycled and this is great, but there is still about three million tons of cumulative non-recyclable waste material that ultimately heads for landfill sites. When you ride a bike in your local area instead of using your car if you have one, keeping it only for longer distance trips, it would extend your car’s life, thereby reducing landfill.
Improving the Quality of Air.
The quality of air which we all breathe is a crucially important for our health. I am addicted to fresh air. Sometimes, I just stop peddling to breathe in a mouthful of clean, crisp air into my lungs and relish the change it create in my body. Fresh air can do wonders for us. Unfortunately the Environmental Protection Agency says that vehicular transportation makes up 33 percent of gas emissions in the US. In its report the agency said that over half of this percentage came from cars.
As active cyclists, we would be doing ourselves and the world a favour by maintaining the purity of the air that we all breathe into our lungs every day.
Alternative transportation is the better choice.
If you live close to your workplace like I do you’d be better off riding a bicycle or get aboard public transport. I certainly do ride my bicycle and while there are obstacles like roadwork blockades, streams, ditches, I circumvent them all by getting off and giving my bike a rest. I simply carry my bike over the obstacle, chuckle and ride on again at the other side. You’d be amazed at the kind of ingenuity you can conjure up on the spot to work around any impediments to your bicycling progress.
According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, 60 million birds are decimated every year from collisions with cars that travel on the roadways. That doesn’t even take into account other wildlife that are killed by cars daily. My heart really goes numb when I hear this statistic because it can be avoided if more of us biked.
There’s no doubt that cars have a direct detrimental impact on our own health as well as the welfare of other people and wildlife. If this is the true picture, then there is little room for complacency. We should change our habits and adopt practices that are more in line with nature.
We should opt to ride bicycles and save our own lives as well as the creatures that share this world with us. There’s no better known way than by riding our bicycles everywhere and enjoying the fresh clean air and beautiful landscapes as we do.
Author: Richard Smith
Editors: Khara-Jade Warren; Sara Kärpänen