As the media bombards our waking minds every morning with news stories about rising gas prices, health care costs and the eminent global warming crisis, many people have found themselves scrambling to find practical solutions for their every day worries. It is no secret that financial issues have become one of the major issues plaguing the collective consciousness of the world we live in today. Financial hardship has been linked to stress and hypertension which leading medical experts say can exasperate health conditions that would otherwise go UN-noticed. It is also important to know that our environment plays a key role in how we determine the quality of our lives. In this piece, we are going to focus on biking as a solution that if applied, will improve our daily lives with respect to our health, environment and money.
Gasoline is a commodity that is produced by refining crude oil. Economist say the demand for crude oil has risen globally, while the United States is still feeling the effects of a weak economy. In a world an economy that is driven by supply and demand, it is important for every man, woman and child to understand the concept. Supply and demand is explained like this: As the demand for a commodity, such as gasoline increases the supply of that commodity begins to decrease which in turn causes the value of that commodity to rise as it becomes more rare. According to the United States Department of Commerce, in March 2011 gas prices rose to $109 per person, $305 per household. In October 2010, the average household spent $249 per month on gasoline for more vehicles, which was $56 less than March 2011. In 2012, the Chicago Tribune reported that the average American spent $4,155 on gasoline in the previous year, which equated to 8.4% of their yearly income, the highest percentage since 1981.
How can the average American save a decent portion of the money spent on gasoline in 2011? The answer is simple. Most drivers are aware that gas prices rise in spring and summer. On average, the days of spring and summer add up to roughly 5 months out of the 12 month calendar year. For the sake of argument we are going to forecast 2 months of bad weather out of our 5 months of spring and summer. That leaves us with 3 months to bike which represents a 25% decrease in gasoline consumption for the average American in 2011. What does this all mean? This means in theory that the American who biked to work 3 months in the year 2011 saved $1038.75 on gasoline.
Not only does biking save you money at the pump but also saves you money on maintenance and repairs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, in 2010 the average driver in the Midwest spent $782 on car maintenance. That figure does not include insurance, or a car note. Bicycles are inexpensive to purchase and easily maintained. Most large cities and towns have numerous bike shops that repair and maintain bikes at nominal fees. The parts for most bicycles are inexpensive to replace and easy to find. It is safe to say that wear and tear adds up in dollars and cents at the end of the day. Every penny counts in an economy like this. Biking is a cost effective way of commuting to and from work for most people who live in metropolitan areas. It saves on gas, wear and tear on your vehicle, and lessens the demand for crude oil during the most expensive months of the year which, in theory, decreases the price at the pump. Bicycling also has many health benefits.
Biking to work can be a form of preventive maintenance on your body and has been linked to improved mental health, coordination, joint and bone health, as well as a stronger immune system. Cycling has been associated with improved weight-control as well as a decrease in coronary heart disease which is linked to obesity.
Roughly, 600,000 people die from a form of heart disease every year. The CDC-Centers for Disease Control-have estimated in 2010 a whopping 35% of Americans were obese and another third were over weight. The CDC deemed people with a body mass index of 30% or greater obese. Annual medical fees attributed to obesity have doubled in less than a decade, and are estimated at $147 billion per year, according to a researchers at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, RTI International and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. A heart study conducted in Denmark revealed that cycling on a regular basis prevented people from developing a form of heart disease. The study was done over a course of 14 years with 30,000 people aging between 20 to 93 years. Those who didn't bike to work experienced a 39% higher rate of death than those who did bike. The evidence overwhelming. Cycling to work is a great way to stay fit while maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system and preventing your risk for heart disease.
Cardiovascular exercise is also a good way to reduce stress. Many medical experts say they recommend cardiovascular workouts to patients who experience large amounts of stress on a daily basis. Cycling stimulates the cardiovascular system and promotes circulation which prevents hypertension. All in all, bike commuters live more stress free lives than those who do not ride a bike. Can you use a little stress relief?
We have successfully proven that biking is beneficial to our pocket books as well as our bodies. These two issues mean the world to most people. However important this may seem, it is more important to realize that our world is at stake. A typical passenger vehicle emits about 5.1 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, according to the EPA-Environmental Protection Agency. This figure does not include commercial vehicles or air planes. Now, ask yourself this: How long have I been driving? How many people have been driving as long as I have? How many new drivers add to that number every year? It all adds up and we are now beginning to see the effects of our miscalculations of the past as it relates to Co2 emissions. This not only effects the air we breath and the water we drink but it creates a ripple effect across the world Eco-system. Leading scientist agree that motor vehicle emissions is a major contributor to global warming. Global warming has been credited with abnormally large storm formations that have taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of peoples in the last decade living in coastal cities around the world. The polar ice caps disappearance has been attributed to global warming as well as rising sea levels. It is uncertain whether or not we can reverse the damage that has already been done but it is certain we can reduce our own impact on the environment by thinking more conservatively when it comes to our life styles.
Biking is a great way to begin solving our environmental issues. If more people biked to work we would reduce global warming. Cycling is a great way to stay healthy and reduce a large number of health risks plaguing our society today. When we improve our overall well being by biking we help lower healthcare costs. Biking is a silent protests against major oil companies and corporations who value the “old mighty dollar” above human life. We fight back by decreasing the demand for oil and becoming more self reliant. After all, what is the purpose of a car if you no longer have a rode to drive it on? In conclusion, the challenges we face today are truly a matter of life and death in the long run. We have found that cycling saves money, improves health, and lessens pollution. Problem Solved.