Biking to Work
Sharif Bhuiyan is an Analyst for Vancity Credit Union in Vancouver, BC. He is a former Intern at Social Enterprise Associates. His interests include microfinance, social enterprise, and international development. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In my work to develop a viable social enterprise with HUB, a non-profit that promotes cycling as an alternative form of transportation, I have learned about the many benefits of cycling. This role also encouraged me to take up the challenge of Bike to Work week held in Vancouver during the last week of May, and write about my experience.
There are three main benefits that cycling can provide to commuters. Firstly, cycling is an excellent way to improve physical fitness. Secondly, cycling offers various economic incentives to reduces the cost of transportation, including fuel, parking, and traffic jams. This is important for commuters who drive to work and routinely experienced the stress of increasing fuel prices and traffic congestion. Finally, cycling to work provides benefits to the environment by reducing carbon dioxide emissions and preserving air quality.
The distance between my workplace and home is 8 1/2km (5mi) without traffic, so a round trip would therefore equal 16km (10mi). After years of not riding, I knew that dis-tance would affect me both physically and mentally, nevertheless it was important to me to take on the challenge to bike to work, both for myself, and for my contribution to the community effort.
The first few days were indeed challenging as I tried to get used to the distance. But by the end of the week I was able to reduce my commute time from an hour and a half to an hour. As the days went by, I also began to have less interest in the distance and more in-terest in experiencing the many sights and sounds of my surroundings in Vancouver. Not only has this changed my perspective of the city, but it has led me to try new routes, opening my eyes to new places and experiences. Most importantly, I never knew that there were areas of Vancouver that had dim sum lunch for less than five dollars!
I have also already felt the financial impact. In one week, without taking the car to and from work, I had saved $75 in gas and $50 in parking. Not only does this provide me with a sense of financial well being but also the economic incentive of continuing to ride to work.
I have also benefited from the psychological effect of having more time to think and plan my day in advance, allowing me to become more productive and creative at work. Based on these positive benefits I truly believe that cycling to work has been an amazing, bene-ficial experience.
Cycling can offer many positive benefits, however I also learned that safety matters. One problem in Vancouver is that motorists are sometimes not willing to share the road with cyclists. This has led to increased number of accidents and even deaths in the city. There are many ways to take precautions when cycling to work, no matter where you live. For example wearing a helmet is a must, it I also a good investment to buy a reflective vest for cycling at night. Another safety precaution is to learn the proper cycling signals, which reduces miscommunication with others on the road.
At the End of the Day
Cycling to work is a great way to improve physical fitness, reduce transportation costs, and protect the environment. Even while still being mindful of road safety, cycling to work is a great way to learn about your city. So get a bike, hit the road, and be ready to have an awesome experience.
1. Stay hydrated
2. Always wear proper equipment
3. Plan trips in advance
4. Carry a strong unbreakable (U-Style) lock
5. Take different routes so each commute is unique
You don't need to wait until Bike to Work Week to begin, in fact if you start now you'll be a great ambassaor to others during the next Bike to Work Week, between May 12th to May 16th 2015. Here is a list (not exhaustive!) of cities that participate in bike to work week:
2. Los Angeles
And many more!
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