There are countless reason to ride a bike, including including 24 free daily car passes every year for those rare rainy mornings in Durham. (Find out how). Here are some of the more important reasons to get you motivated.
Sustainable Duke: Achieving Climate Neutrality by 2024
Duke University is committed to becoming climate neutral by 2024. Currently, a significant portion of Duke’s greenhouse gas footprint results from transportation. Duke has developed a Climate Action Plan that will guide the University in achieving climate neutrality by 2024, which calls for improving infrastructure and incentives for Duke community members who use alternative modes of transportation, including commuting by bike. For more information about sustainability efforts at Duke, visit http://sustainability.duke.edu/index.php.
Ditch your car: Protect the air we breathe and help save our planet
It’s no secret that the 250 million cars in the U.S. are a principal cause of dirty air. And there is a large body of research that identifies dirty air as a causal agent for human disease. A study of U.S. cities found that mortality rates were 17-26% higher in cities with the dirtiest air compared to those with the cleanest. The study also found correlations between dirty air and lung cancer and cardiopulmonary disease. The risks translate roughly to a two-year shorter life span for residents of dirty-air cities. (World Resources Institute. 1998-99 World Resources: A Guide to the Global Environment pp. 63-64). In the U.S., 30,000 people die every year from automobile emissions (“Bicycling and Our Environment.” Austin Cycling News Aug. 1998: 1).
Cars also negatively impact our planet as a whole. They emit carbon dioxide (CO2), a heat-trapping gas. Alarmingly, they emit 20 pounds per gallon of gas burned (NRDC 12, Zuckermann 29). Atmospheric concentrations of CO2 have increased by 30% since preindustrial times, and much of that increase is directly related to the burning of fossil fuels. According to the Worldwatch Institute: “CO2 levels are now at their highest point in 160,000 years, and global temperatures at their highest since the Middle Ages”. The effects of this global warming are frightening: rising sea levels, dying coral reefs, spreading of infectious diseases, and extreme weather conditions, including droughts, rare forest fires, historic floods, and severe storms. Even more frightening, these events are not just predictions; they’re happening right now (Brown, Lester R., et al. State of the World New York: W. W. Norton and Co., 1999).
You can get a good, brand-new bike for around $300, and you can get an excellent one for about $700. Even if you don’t do any of the maintenance yourself, you’re unlikely to spend very much per year by having a bike shop do all your maintenance and tune-ups.
Cars, on the other hand drain your bank. The typical American family spends almost $8000 a year to just own and operate a car, when you count the car payments, gas, oil, maintenance & repairs, licenses, parking, and insurance.
Biking can be just as fast as driving, especially in Durham as most people who work/study at Duke live on or near campus. Biking also saves you time because you don’t have to exercise after work — you get your exercise automatically while you commute. If you drive your car to work and then spend 30 minutes after work exercising, then biking to work can save you time over driving.
Become and stay healthy
Biking is great for your health and helps keep you in shape. You will gradually begin to see an improvement in the muscletone of your legs, thighs, rear end and hips. Bike riding can also offer exercise without joint pain. The aerobic benefit is comparable to jogging or running without the strain.
Steady cycling burns approximately 300 calories per hour. If you cycle for 30 minutes every day you would burn 11 poundsof pure fat in a year. The picture to the right is a rubber representation of just one pound of fat. Since it helps build muscle, cycling will also boost your metabolic rate long after you’ve finished your ride which will also help shed some pounds.
According to the British Medical Association, cycling just 20 miles a week can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 50%. A major study of 10,000 civil servants suggested that those who regularly cycled 20 miles over the period of a week were half as likely to suffer heart disease as their non-cycling colleagues.
Ride for you
- Riding a bike is a proven stress releaser. Regardless of if you are riding purely for pleasure or for a specific purpose, you will arrive at your destination feeling relaxed, energized and happier about the world and yourself.