by Joshua Cairns. Republished with permission from Sustainable SFU. See the original post at www.sustainablesfu.org.
In the 21st Century, time and convenience are everything. As a full-time SFU employee with external volunteer and sport commitments, my daily agenda is similar to those of average individuals: busy. Between cooking, eating, commuting, working, cleaning, exercising, and that time-consuming matter of sleeping, I am always seeking conveniences to expand my free time.
As a result, many of us choose to use a vehicle as our principal means of transportation. While perhaps this seems like an excellent choice, the overwhelming preference for cars - particularly in North America - may be fuelling our biggest headaches. A quick glance over TomTom’s annual Congestion Index report from 2013 demonstrates how cities with a higher percentage of trips made by bike experience substantially lower levels of congestion. Vancouver, for example, is reported as having a Congestion Index of 32%, while having a bike mode share of 3.7%. Copenhagen, meanwhile, is the polar opposite: this Danish city has a Congestion Index of 17%, with a bike mode share of an incredible 37%.
The reasons behind these statistics are simple: bikes require less space. Over a dozen bikes can occupy the same space as an automobile, thus being capable of maintaining a steadier, denser flow of traffic capable of moving greater numbers of people.
Also worth considering is what moves the bicycle: your legs. Time spent cycling equals time spent exercising. Many cyclists that bike to work have a reduced need to exercise on their own time; thus, the time spent commuting means more free time for yourself after!
Not only can cycling provide us with more free time, but it can help us further enjoy that time as well. Cycling is an incredibly cost efficient means of transportation: cheap to get into, no “fuel” or operation costs, and affordable maintenance. This contributes to incredible cost savings that can help you spend more money, on more things you want, in your added free time. If more of us biked as a means of transportation, our health care costs would be substantially lower as well, allowing greater funding in other sectors. Consider this: a 2012 study out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that if citizens in the Great Lakes Region ran half of their errands by bike for only 4 months of the year, the region would save $3.8 billion in health care costs. These savings stem from improved individual health resulting from decreased levels of air pollution and improved fitness.
If saving money and gaining free time aren’t enticing enough to adopt cycling, what about improving your longevity? A 2010 study by the University of Utrecht found that commuter cycling contributed to a life expectancy gain of up to 14 months due to higher exercise levels!
The numbers don’t lie; if you want to take action and reap the rewards of cycling, why not get involved with Bike to Work and School Week from May 27 - 31 to learn the ropes! On Monday (May 27), all participants will be entered to win prizes courtesy of Cap’s Westwood Cycle. Nature’s Garden and SFU Parking Services will be hosting a free pancake breakfast to help refuel you after your ride to campus. Come join the community and experience the joy of cycling!