Ten Reasons to Start Biking this Spring
Photo credit: Eric Murphy
With the snow fully off the road and the air finally warm enough to keep your fingers from freezing to your handlebars, it is officially bike season in Ottawa. Here are 10 reasons to try biking this spring!
1.You get to explore parts of the city you’ve never seen before.
When you’re driving or on the bus, you tend to only take the fastest routes possible, like Queen Elizabeth or the 417. But when you’re biking, sometimes it’s faster and easier to take a new route that’s further off the beaten path. After a few weeks out, you’ll find your once congested commute may have turned into a jaunt through Sandy Hill or Wellington West’s quiet backstreets.
2. It’s cheap, really cheap.
The biggest biking investment you’ll ever make is the bike itself. A good bike can set you back $400 to $1000 at most of the local shops, although it can get a lot cheaper if you start looking at used bikes or what Canadian Tire has in stock. Either way, the cost of a new bike doesn’t even approach what most Canadians pay in annual car insurance alone. Buying an $800 or $900 bike is even cheaper than buying a year’s worth of monthly OC Transpo passes. Once you own your bike, the savings keep piling up. Most repairs are cheap, and a decent tune-up (which most people will only buy a few times in their bike’s life, if at all) doesn’t cost much more than a tank of gas.
3. And while we’re talking about gas, fuelling up for a bike rides means food!
Yes, it’s eating. Eating whatever food you like. A lot more fun than standing at the pump, right?
4. You'll feel more in tune with the community.
When you’re driving, do you ever feel a little sealed off from the world? When you bike, you’re out in the open with the fresh air on your face and the city all around you. You can wave at your neighbours when you roll down the block or even have a quick chat with a friend on the sidewalk while you’re waiting for the light to turn. And if you see someone you really want to catch up with, you can always pull over and hop onto the sidewalk to find out what’s going on (be safe about it though, obviously).
5. It’s also great for the Environment.
Although nothing made out of plastic and metal is going to be perfectly sustainable, biking is a fantastic alternative to driving when it comes to emissions, and it’s a heck of a lot faster than walking. A U.S. study found that if half of all Americans started biking to work, household emissions could be reduced by six per cent. One big negative impact of biking is a little bit unexpected. Another study found that many cyclists consume more goods and energy over their lifetime than non-bikers because…
6. Despite safety concerns, cyclists live longer.
This comes from a study in the Netherlands, so you have to take it with a grain of salt because their cities have more cycling infrastructure than ours, but researchers in Utrecht found that cyclists live an average of six months longer than people who don’t bike.
7. It’s often faster than taking the bus.
Obviously we all adore OC Transpo, but for shorter trips, especially downtown, a bike can be a quicker option than the bus. You don’t have to wait at a bus-stop for your bike to show up on time, and once you’re going you don’t need to stop for any more passengers. Plus, once you get to know your neighbourhood you’ll find plenty of time-saving alleys and little shortcuts you can use to get home extra fast, Ferris Bueller style.
8. This city is built for it.
Ottawa might not be set up quite as nicely as some cities in the aforementioned Netherlands, but the canal paths and bike lanes (especially the segregated ones on Laurier Avenue, for example) make biking a breeze. If you’re too intimidated to bike on the street alongside cards, these paths are a great place to start. Also, the more people we have out biking, the more reasons the city has to expand its bike routes.
9. Parking is free.
Long live bike racks! Although we can always use a few more of them, there are plenty of bike racks all over the city that you can use for parking. Not only are they free to use, they’re efficient. A big enough rack can hold 12 bikes in a parking spot that would normally only have space for a single car. Just make sure you buy a solid lock, and if you have quick-release wheels, lock them up too.
10. Helmet hair.
Come on, it’s like a badge of honour.
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