With the rising cost of gasoline and car maintenance, and with the increasing desire of most people to save the planet, many wonder if they should replace their cars with bicycles. In many international companies, bicycle use is the more common mode of transportation. In a recent global survey by the Pew Research Center, 42% of households reported owning a bicycle (compared to 35% who owned cars.)
Out of the 44 countries polled, the Pew Research Center cited Germany as the country with the most bike owners (at 80%), followed by Japan (78%). The lowest percentage of bike ownership was in Jordan (5%) and Lebanon (7%). Although this survey indicated national income was an essential factor in car ownership percentage. However, in the USA, where car ownership is highest, bicycle ownership is also high – regardless of car ownership.
Bicycle Riding Is Healthy
Using a bicycle is not only healthy, but cycling puts less strain on your body than other types of exercise. Experts recommend biking because it burns calories and increases balance. Bicycling can also relieve anxiety and depression.
A study by the US Census reported if everyone in the USA who lives within 5 miles of their job were to bike to work instead of driving, it would decrease US greenhouse gas emissions by 5 million tons per year. This statistic is the equivalent of 24 billion gallons of gas. It would also be the equivalent of one million people giving up their cars.
U.S. Emission Statistics
The switch would especially be significant in the USA. Although people may think industrial emissions are responsible for most air pollution, a University of Montana study shows motor vehicles are responsible for 30% of the US’s carbon dioxide emissions, 80% of its carbon monoxide emissions, and half of its nitrogen oxide emissions. An interesting fact from the same study was that 60% of the most harmful emissions occur during the first few minutes of driving. Because of this, the study concludes that if US drivers were to use bicycles for short, local trips (instead of cars), they’d reduce our national carbon emissions.
In addition to reducing our air pollution, increasing the number of bicycle trips can significantly decrease traffic congestion. Since bikes eliminate emissions produced by idling cars, this helps improve the community’s air. Since people who bicycle can achieve a speed of up to 12-16 mph, you’ll arrive at your local destination in a reasonable time.
More Implications of Automobile Ownership
Other aspects of automobile use could be considered when reviewing the advantages of bicycle and car ownership. For example, one of the reasons for heavy traffic congestion on today’s highways is the frequency of police officers pulling cars over for traffic violations. Consumer financial adviser Value Penguin reports this happens to over 32 million American drivers. If we drove our cars less often, the University of Montana study suggests we’d reduce wear and tear on our roads and save our communities considerably by reducing the frequency of resurfacing our roadways.
Automobile owners should also consider the amount they’d save by not needing to pay for frequent car repairs or maintenance. Considering over 180,000 auto mechanics currently working in the USA, the costs we’d save without paying those fees would be significant. Caring for a bike is much less costly than caring for a car.
In summary, there are many reasons to consider the advantages of bicycle riding. When we look closely at the number of harmful emissions caused directly by automobile use – especially during the first few minutes of driving – it’s easy to see why using a bicycle is preferable. If we’re serious about saving our planet, using bikes for short errands can be an excellent first step toward achieving that goal.