Celebrating National Bike Month!
As C3’s resident Home Energy Challenge intern, I spent my first day on the job calculating my carbon footprint with the online platform. Quite frankly, the numbers were scary. I was immediately inspired to browse the recommended actions that I could take to reduce my impact on the environment, beginning with transportation. As the Home Energy Challenge website explains, biking generates zero emissions, so I decided to give it a try. What better way to jump right into a summer of sustainability than vow to eliminate my transportation footprint!
My first day riding to my internship was a breeze. There were bike lanes on the busy streets for the entire way, and I felt super safe in the way that I was treated by the cars on the road. Nobody flew past me, and everyone maintained a very safe distance when they did pass me. I even passed lots of other bikers on their morning commute which made me feel like I was part of an active and environmentally conscious community.
If you are also interested in reducing your footprint, give biking a try! Whatever inspires you to bike to work or class, there are numerous benefits to ditching your car on a daily basis.
Every car owner deals with high gas prices and car maintenance costs, but in Charlottesville, the parking costs compile even more quickly. Apartment complexes around the area, especially those close to UVA Grounds, will charge up to $95 a month for a parking spot. Then on top of that, residents working downtown have to pay to park each day.
Bike parking, however, is entirely free!
Of course, purchasing a bike if you don’t already own one can be expensive, but there are some cheap alternatives. I found my mine on Craigslist and ended up with a beautiful used bike for less than a quarter of what it would have cost me to buy a new one. If you are inspired to start biking but do not yet own a bike, try looking on Craigslist or Facebook groups to see if there are any used bikes available near you. If you would rather shop for your bike in person, Community Bikes and Blue Wheel Bicycle are great local options for finding a ride that suits your travel and financial needs. They’ll help you find the right fit and style, which can be difficult to do online.
It goes without saying that Charlottesville is a very hilly city. Biking to and from work is an excellent way to use your muscles and get your heart rate up twice a day. It is an efficient way to build a workout into a busy schedule. When you get home from a long day, you don’t need to motivate yourself to get off the couch and get to the gym. Your exercise is already done!
Biking is also better for your lungs! As discussed in Cycling Weekly, a study by the Healthy Air Campaign, Kings College London, and Camden Council showed that drivers experience five times higher pollution levels than cyclists.
Physical health components aside, biking is fantastic for mental health. Rather than getting frustrated by slow drivers and tailgaters in the morning, biking can put you into a very peaceful state of mind. It is a great way to wake yourself up on the way to work and a perfect means of relaxing and unwinding on your way home.
National Bike Month ends soon, but I plan to continue biking to C3 for the duration of the summer. For anyone interested in breaking into a biking commute, I can’t recommend it enough.
Still not sold? Maybe try biking once a week or on nice weather days. If you work too far away or have too much stuff to bike with, why not add biking to your life in other ways? You don’t have to dive in headfirst and sell your car to make a difference. Every time you skip the drive and bike, you’re helping your health, your wallet, and the Earth, even if it isn’t every day.
Check out the Bike and Ped Map from the City of Charlottesville to help you plan your ride!