Cycling is a fast, economical and ecological transportation mode. Furthermore, it is a form of exercise and helps to maintain one's health and figure. On average, a cyclist travels at about 20 km/h (13 mph), as opposed to 17 km/h (10 mph) by car in cities like London. There is always a parking spot available (unlike the car) and there are no waiting times (unlike the bus) and any parking fees. A cyclist's only enemies are:
- Hills and slopes
- The cold
- The rain
Apart from these aspects, cycling is a very competitive means of transport.
Roughly speaking, cycling 1 km in the downtown of a typical middle-size city requires:
- By bike: 2 to 3 minutes + 1 minute for parking = 3 to 4 minutes
- By car: 3 to 5 minutes + 3 minutes for parking + 2-3 minutes spent walking from parking spot to final destination: 8 to 11 minutes
- By bus: 5 to 15 minutes including waiting time, time on the journey itself and time spent walking
- By foot: 15 minutes
Cycling remains one of the best way for small journeys. Indeed, a 6 km journey between a commercial zone in the suburbs of Dijon (a French City of 250,000 inhabitants) and my flat, which was in the downtown, entails:
- By bike: 12 minutes (when going downhill), 18 minutes (when going uphill) Cost: $0.80 (cost of the maintenance of the bike)
- By car: 12 to 13 minutes + time spent parking, i.e. 20 minutes. Cost: $3.00 *
- By bus: 25 minutes Cost: $1.25*
N.B: Generally speaking, the bicycle is considered to be the quickest means of transport for journeys between 500m and 1km (for shorter distances, walking is best, and for longer distances, the car and/or the bus are most attractive).
N.B: The costs mentioned above take into account wear and tear, fuel prices and/or bus ticket prices when bought in sets of 10.
In addition, when you cycle, you get to enjoy the sun, hear the birds singing and you can stop to look at something that catches your eye whenever you wish. Plus you get to exercise. Can it get more pleasant than this?
Some of you might say that it's dangerous to cycle on roads. While cycling on roads is slightly more dangerous than driving in a car, it isn't any more so than being a pedestrian, and certainly much less than riding around on a motorcycle or a scooter. And if you respect the rules of the road and take basic security measures (wear safety vests at night, use bicycle lights, etc.), cycling becomes a relatively safe means of transport. Furthermore, if you take the word of Wikipedia, a Danish study that considered all the advantages and disadvantages of cycling showed that the risk of dying in a year is reduced by a third in people who go to work by bike, compared to those who use another means of transport. Therefore, the benefits of daily physical activity override the risk of having an accident.
For those of you who don't own a bicycle, many cities have developed bike rental systems. In France for instance, there are the Velib' in Paris, Velov in Lyon, Velostan in Nancy or the Velodi in Dijon. The rental systems and bike equipment are growing up all over France and in Europe. So go ahead and find out more - most of the offers are very attractive (e.g. yearly subscription fee of about 30 dollars).
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