Saturday, August 4, 2012

Cycling and the Environment

We all know cycling is good for the environment- here's why.

Nowadays around contemporary subcultures it is very common for people to do things because it is "the green thing to do".  Whether it is a faddish phase or a sincere commitment to protect the environment, there is a growing awareness that riding bikes instead of driving is the right thing to do. People may not be aware of all the benefits cycling infastructure like greenbelts can have on the local environment. Here's a few concrete reasons why riding your bike will benefit the environment, no pun intended.

It improves the local climate- I can use my own local area as an example of the current state the environment is in. Downtown Dallas is a twin city to the adjacent city of Fort Worth and the smaller cities surrounding it. On average, the daily temperature high in downtown is ten degrees higher than anywhere else in the surrounding area, even Fort Worth. In the last two or three years there has been a resurgence of highway construction projects in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, otherwise known to locals as the Metroplex. At the same token, last year was the hottest summer on record, with over 3 months of temperatures above 100 degrees. Coincidence or the result of deforestation and global warming? That is for the reader to decide. It is a proven fact that where there are no trees and only asphalt and concrete, the temperature is usually hotter than in places where there are parks and greenbelts. Right now downtown Dallas sits on a giant concrete slab. More trees should be planted and complete streets put into use.

Carbon emissions from vehicles is another example of why riding a bicycle is beneficial for the environment. With the deadlock Five O' Clock traffic and the dust in the air from the construction projects, it makes for a very polluted scene in Dallas. There is more of this to follow, as the city has approved yet another highway construction project that will redo all the arterial roads to Dallas, replacing them with new ones. Construction is said to take another four years to complete. All these carbon emissions go straight to the atmosphere. The carbon limit for a sustainable atmosphere is 350 parts per million. There are now places on Earth reaching above 400ppm. The destruction of the ozone layer has caused us to worry about things like the daily UV idex. Skin cancer and other forms of cancer are now more common than ever.  The environment, both locally and worldwide, as well as our health would greatly benefit from a reduced dependence on cars and car infastructure. Let's talk about how riding a bike can also help our overall health.

It improves our health- It's no secret that cycling improves our health and the results even show in our physiques. From reducing stress, improving circulation, alertness, and our emotional health; all these benefits can be attributed to cycling. It is also a great way to fight the obesity epidemic that is plaguing developed countries like the United States. Obesity is a disease that needs to be medicated with exercise, a proper diet and lifestyle. Cycling is a great way to get one of the three remedies to fight this disease. It needs to be complemented with other factors aforementioned, but it may be one of the most important steps in fighting obesity. 

In my own personal experience, cycling is yet to bring me to the peak of fitness or make me a spokesman for fitness in general. I'm still an average guy of average American build. That means, like most American men, I am slightly overweight by Body Mass Index standards with a soft mid section. Not fat, not idealistic, just common. I do realize, however with some adjustments in my diet cycling can get me where I need to be, but it is only a factor in the whole equation.

It improves the social environment- Communities that are accessible by bicycle are more united because of it. When neighborhoods become bike friendly, people interact with each other and they become more personable. In turn, the social environment improves dramatically. This may result in lower crime rates, higher quality of life, and increased entrepreneurship in areas where cycling is more accessible. There are other positive side effects to introducing cycling in a community. The need to close distances between home and the necessities of life will result in the creation of small markets for the community. Whether it's a local corner store or a farmer's market, people will begin to buy locally and grow their own local economy. 

Here's a few good reasons to continue on your journey to become more environmentally friendly through cycling. If you were looking for inspiration, this article may serve to motivate you to get up and going. Whatever the case may be, there are many good reasons to get into cycling.

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