Tired of walking? Grab a free bike on the spot
Cities like Paris have made a bold move to lower carbon emissions with a revolutionary bike rental service. In 2007, more than 10,600 bikes were placed at 750 stations located throughout Paris. Since then the number of bikes has grown to 15,000 with a total of 42 million users. This service or, “Velib” as it is called, works in this way: the first half-hour is free; after the first half-hour there is a charge of one euro, then two Euros for the second and four Euros for every extra half-hour from then on. The idea is to keep riders in motion, which is easy with Paris’s 230 miles of bike lanes and stations every couple hundred yards. While this program has had its share of issues including vandalism, it has inspired other cities in France plus London, San Francisco and Singapore. Stockholm, Vienna, Barcelona, Brussels and Copenhagen which already offered similar services.
Maybe it’s time for our cities to take similar action? But, until that time comes, buy or rent a bike and cycle your carbon footprint away.
- Start out slow. Don’t try to do the Ironman (110 miles!) your first day. It’s best for your health and your muscles to start slow, cycling only a couple of miles. Once your muscles adapt to the motions and your stamina builds, gradually increase the daily amount of exercise you do.
- Be safe. Cycling can be dangerous if you do not take the necessary precautions.
- Always wear a helmet.
- Wear bright-colored clothing and reflectors
- Wear gloves, arm and knee pads
- If possible, cycle during the day
- Follow traffic laws
- Don’t cycle in the middle of the road when cars are nearby
- Recycle your bike. If your bike is broken beyond repair, doesn’t match your cycling needs anymore, or is just plain old, donate it or recycle your bicycle. Go to SCGH’s Recycling Center to find a location close to you that accepts bicycles.
- To your health. Bicycling is an effective cardio exercise for people of all ages. It reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity, along with other health problems. Cycling also improves mental health, as exercise releases endorphins in the body which make people feel happier.
- According to the League of American Bicyclists, a 150 lb person can burn 410 calories cycling 12 miles in an hour. You can calculate how many calories are burned when cycling with the International Bicycle Fund’s Cycling Calorie calculator.
- To your wallet. Bicycles range in prices, fitting all different budgets.
- A new bicycle can cost as low as $100 or as high as $1000, depending on type.
- An average bicycle costs $385 in the US compared to a car that costs an average of $13,532.
- You don’t spend money on gas and expensive car maintenance
- Possibly reduce healthcare costs associated with obesity, an estimated $117 billion per year.
- To the earth. Bicycling reduces greenhouse gas emissions, air, water and noise pollution, and road wear. Check out this fuel cost calculator, to see how much your will save on gas and how many non-renewable resources you can avoid.
- Don’t rush. When purchasing a bicycle, don’t just look at the price tag but notice all of its capabilities. If you invest in a bike that will be difficult to fix or is simply cheep, then it is probable that you will end up having to buy a new one soon after. So, take a few extra moments to compare models, instead of wasting money and resources on a new product later.
- Carry the burden. Make sure to find a bike that will fit your frame and your lifestyle. If you are looking for a casual bike that you can use for your ride to college or the grocery store look for an attachable basket area. Focus on the bike’s overall weight, this will be beneficial for college and especially if you live in an apartment tower and prefer to avoid your building’s Energy Monster, the elevator.
- When shopping for bikes, consider the design you are looking for and its weight. If you are going to be carrying the bike up stairs you may when a lighter model.
- If you are limited on space, you may want to fork up a little extra change for a foldable bike. These bicycles use light material and are constructed with few resources.
- Want to really go green? Shop for a bike made out of recycled content, like steel bars or aluminum rims. These models may cost more; however, the resources saved from producing new bike parts are quite significant.
- You can lower your carbon footprint by purchasing a bicycle with recycled rubber handles and tires.
- How about the cool bike designs? Custom bicycle paintjobs may cost a lot, but if you paint with a zero or low VOC paint then it’s worth it.
- Before purchasing a bicycle, of course consider the cost, but be aware of your options. There are many different types of bikes out there, even those that are more eco-friendly than others. Do the research before you reach for your wallet.