When was the last time you hopped on a bike?
If that answer involves a reverie of mini-you waving from a plastic Hot Wheels trike, it’s time for grown-up you to have an adventure.
Especially if that adventure is also the ideal way to commute.
Here are 5 excellent reasons to grab your Huffy and start pedaling:
Reason #1 to ride a bike: firm thighs
When you ride, your pants will fit better. And you might even need new pants … smaller pants.
While that’s good news for your wardrobe (and ego), it’s excellent news for your health. With our increasingly sedentary modern life, the average American sits at least 8 hours a day — if not more. That might sound lazy and awesome, but the truth is all that inactivity wreaks havoc on our blood sugar and triglyceride levels, priming our bodies for potential struggles with heart disease, depression, and cancer.
But what if you don’t have the time or energy to exercise during an exhausting day of screaming bosses and wailing kiddos? Well, here’s your 2-birds-1-stone solution: bike to work. Just 30 minutes of light cycling (a quick 10 mph ride to the grocery store) can burn off that bagel and cream cheese you ate for breakfast and give you a sanity break from the Terrible 2s.
It’s a stress-reliever and money-saver combined (and it’ll give you thighs that would send Heidi Klum crying to the cookie jar).
Reason #2 to ride a bike: you get to put your money where your mouth is … or wherever you’d like
Other than said new, smaller pants, the daily cost of biking is almost nothing.
Riding a bike helps you save money. A lot of money — and not just on gas. For example, if you biked to work in San Francisco every day for 5 days, you could cut back on all sorts of expenses:
- Latte (since riding will give you a natural energy boost): $3.69/day = $18.45 a week
- Gym membership: $94/month = $23 a week
- Parking: $20/day for a city parking spot = $100 a week
- Gas: currently around $4 per gallon … for a small SF-style 12-gallon car = $48 a week
Total weekly savings: $189.45 (!)
And if you already have renters insurance, you can protect your bike by adding it to your policy.
Getting set up doesn’t have to be expensive either. Contrary to what you may see out there, you really only need the bike, a helmet, a good lock, and 2 lights (front and back). Purchasing everything secondhand will save you money and won’t contribute any new pollutants to the atmosphere (via the production of new parts).
If you need to brush up on biking laws, or simply want a venue to show off those new pants, check out your local bicycle coalition for free safety workshops and bike maps.
Reason #3 to ride a bike: so you can do something nice for your mama
Mother Earth is stressed out. So why not get on her good side and run your errands on 2 wheels instead of 4? True, some people live where biking to work isn’t always a realistic option. But if you can’t be a weekday warrior, be a weekend warrior … or a whenever-you-can warrior.
By pedaling every Saturday and Sunday, for example, you could save 2 tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year. It’s an easy change: You and your friends could bike to brunch. Or you could bike as a family to the playground.
Plus, riding a bike doesn’t add pollutants, like carbon monoxide or nitrogen oxides, to our damaged atmosphere and doesn’t intensify the already-dangerous level of greenhouse gases making Earth overheat.
For those of us who have the choice to bike or drive, why not make your mama proud? (Note: every time you ride a bike, it’s like giving Mother Earth a gift card to the spa.)
Reason #4 to ride a bike: you never ever have to take public transportation again
Let’s not mince words here: Have you taken public transportation lately? Not that relaxing Sunday jaunt to the local food truck festival. I’m talking 40 solid minutes of hand-gripping public discomfort, unexplained aromas, a conversation the entire bus can’t help but become emotionally involved in (“Diane, you didn’t!”). Five days a week. Twice a day. (I’m getting anxious just typing this.)
Public transportation brings out the worst in everyone. But biking means never questioning why that seat is wet — or finding out the hard way. Never watching the estimated bus arrival time extend by another 18 minutes. And never, ever feeling your blood pressure skyrocket during that biweekly mechanical delay (I’m looking at you, N-Judah).
If you enjoy starting your day nestled in a stranger’s armpit, then the bus is your chariot.
But for the rest of us, we’ve got our bikes.
Reason #5 to ride a bike: you can stop playing video games … and be the game
Yes, some rides can feel like a game of Paperboy. You’ll have to watch for lunging dogs, car doors that suddenly swing open, maybe (if you’re lucky) break dancers. And if you’re rushing, you could arrive at work looking like an extra from Flashdance (just tote your work clothes with you in a backpack and change in the restroom).
But those irritations are fleeting. What your Xbox doesn’t have is that moment when the glittering skyline stretches in front of you, the part of your ride where you catch the tail end of a crazy orange sunset, or that detour through the park where you can inhale the eucalyptus. You’ll feel the cool evening air against your face, smell those fresh morning doughnuts from the bakery.
You’ll have a real-life adventure.
Enjoy the ride.