This past semester, I studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark and one of the biggest takeaways for me was the convenience of biking. That’s right- riding a regular, old, 3-speed bike everywhere. Granted, I was living in the center of one of the most bike-able cities in the world. But even here in Rochester I have found that biking is much more convenient than driving a car. Let me tell you why.
First of all, it’s much more economical. This one is kind of a no-brainer. While prices for bikes do range quite a bit depending on what you want, no matter what kind of bike you choose, it’s going to be cheaper than a car. Not only is the upfront cost cheaper, but so are maintenance and repair fees. Getting your car fixed can cost you hundreds, or even thousands of dollars. Getting your bike fixed won’t cost you nearly as much and there are even some shops out there that will do it for free. Your bike also doesn’t require gas (which is horrible for the environment anyways) or insurance (I mean unless you have some kind of ridiculously expensive bike). And let’s not forget the real killer- a University of Rochester parking pass.
Speaking of parking, have you noticed how little parking we have on campus? One of my favorite aspects of biking is eliminating the time and stress spent searching for a parking spot. When I bike, I can ride right up to campus buildings, the gym, grocery stores, the pharmacy, restaurants, etc. There is almost always something you can lock your bike to. Talk about convenient.
Biking is also a great form of exercise. Even if you bike at a slow pace, you are getting more exercise than when you just sit in your car. And no, moving your foot back and forth between the gas and the brake does not count as exercise. Biking is especially nice in the beautiful summer weather. You get some sunshine, some fresh air, and most importantly of all, you are being sustainable.
Bikes are one of the most sustainable forms of transportation. They don’t consume energy like cars, busses, trains, planes, etc. Biking is the most energy efficient mode of transportation. A bike uses no fuel besides human energy and emits no carbon dioxide. Bikes also produce very little, to no noise pollution. And compared to the materials and energy required to produce other modes of transportation, those required to produce a bike are minuscule.
While I am a huge proponent of biking, I do realize that biking isn’t always convenient. Unlike European cities like Copenhagen, cities and towns in America were built around the automobile rather than the bike. Traveling far distances doesn’t really make sense on a bike. Biking in America is also a lot more dangerous. In Denmark, as you can see in the photo to the left, bikes have their own lanes, their own traffic lights, and always have the right of way over cars. Bikers also use hand signals to let other bikers, pedestrians, and cars know where they are going. In most places in America, there aren’t even specific lanes dedicated to bikers, let alone lights and signals. And although I biked in all sorts of weather in Copenhagen and I assure you it can be done, a car might be your best option in poor weather, especially Rochester winters. But if it is a nice day out, and you aren’t going far, I would really encourage you to hop on a bike and enjoy the ride.
Written by Alyssa Lemire, Class of 2017