New beginnings are conducive to making changes that can improve your life. At the beginning of the new year, most people think about things like:
- Be healthier; get more exercise; feel better about your body.
- Deal with stress more effectively; have a more positive attitude.
- Contribute something to solving broader societal or global issues.
- Save money towards a memorable vacation, doing something fun in a spectacular place.
There is one thing you can do that will make all of these things achievable this year: Get rid of your car (or at least one car) and ride your bike instead. It’s that simple.
If you start riding to work instead of driving, you are killing so many birds with one stone, that it is a virtual bird massacre. Seriously. Sorry birds. I’m not talking about multi-tasking either, but about obtaining multiple, diverse goals with one action, which is the original meaning of this expression.
Dead Bird #1: Improve your health. Within a couple of weeks of riding to work everyday you will think less and less about the physical demands of bicycling and more and more about how much better you feel by doing it. Yes, there may be a bit of a shock to your system at first, depending how active you are already, but that extra, daily activity has the potential to make you feel like you are twenty years younger. If you are only 25 though, be careful, because 5-year olds really don’t belong riding in traffic.
Dead Bird #2: Lower stress and improve your attitude. By not driving you are already removing one of the most significant sources of stress in most people’s lives: dealing with traffic. However, the extra oxygen you pump into your brain by not pumping gasoline into your car has an immediate, positive effect on your energy level and attitude. Why do you think so many bikers have bugs in their teeth? It’s from riding happy.
Dead Bird #3: Contribute significantly to fighting climate change. Vehicular transportation accounts for about 40% of global carbon dioxide emissions that cause climate change. Every gallon of gasoline releases at least 18 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. In the US, most people drive around 15,000 miles annually. Average fuel efficiency is about 23.6 miles to the gallon. So, in a year, an average car releases 11,430 pounds (5.5 tons) of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. You may like to recycle and bring your own grocery bag to the store, but there is nothing, literally NOTHING, you can do to fight global climate change as an individual more than killing your car.
Dead Bird #4: Save tons of money and use it for the best vacation of your life. Car payments, insurance, fuel, maintenance, depreciation of a vehicle will cost you on average $8,469 in the US. So, if you put a bit of that into savings and set aside enough for a great vacation, doing something active, like a bike tour, backpacking trip, scuba and jungle adventure, hut-to-hut ski trip, or whatever you love the most, you will have something excellent to look forward to this year. And that is on top of better health, better attitude and lower stress levels, and being a rock star for the environment!
Bottom line: Biking to work is the best new year’s resolution you can possibly make.