If your main mode of transport is driving, you would, by now, have heard the endless tales of how ditching that automobile of yours could help the world. Or how walking or cycling could probably help you become a lot healthier than you already are, and how using alternative, sustainable transport could also save you money.
No doubt, cars are a major convenience in city life. But depending on the hours, using your car less could mean escaping from the frustration of congested traffic, expensive parking, and gaining a healthier lifestyle.”
So leave the car in the carpark, and see how that could make your world a better place.
It’s great for the environment.
For starters, bicycles do not need fuel. You are the bicycle’s source of propulsion, its power plant. On average, cycling 10km to and from work instead of driving would cut down on about 1,500kg – the weight of a Mercedes-Benz C-Class – in greenhouse gas emissions annually.
Bicycles also cost less to the environment to produce. Far less rubber is needed, which helps prevent the destruction of forests for rubber plantations and production. When it comes to the manufacturing of cars, it is estimated that close to a billion cubic metres of pollutants are released into the environment each year. And that’s before you even start the car’s engine.
Once that engine starts, you’ll have to deal with another sort of pollution that’s aside from the one that poisons the air you breathe – noise. Petrolheads love revving their engines for what they consider a sexy growl, while car manufacturers seek to make quieter cars through better engine design and improved aerodynamics. Which tell you one thing – the noise from cars is real. Whether it’s a poorly-maintained engine or tyres on the tarmac, the noise from cars increases the level of human stress from noise pollution.
Bicycles also take up far less space on the road and in car parks, which means less traffic (if more people were to cycle) and less space required to build parking lots. Cyclists take up only one-third of the space needed for a car on the roads, and as many as eight bicycles can fit into the space needed for one parked car.
It could make you a much healthier person.
Medical and health professionals recommend about 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity daily for a healthy lifestyle. Riding a bicycle – especially to work – would provide you with that. The actual workout you get from cycling those 30 minutes depends on your body weight and speed. A person weighing 80kg cycling at about 20km/h for 30 minutes would expend about 450 calories.
Apart from the activity’s direct impact on your waistline, it also contributes to your psychological well-being. A 2014 study showed that people who switched to cycling instead of driving to work were 13 per cent less likely to complain of being under strain and unable to concentrate. As it provides good exercise, cycling also helps improve conditions such as depression, and also helps in preventing depression in the first place.
It will save you a lot of money.
Considering the price of a car and the cost of a Certificate of Entitlement, using a car in Singapore would cost you a minimum of $76,000, if you purchased the cheapest car available on the market, and paid cash. There’s also the cost of parking, road tax, electronic road pricing, exorbitant fuel prices, traffic fines, servicing and maintenance that could double that in the space of a decade.
Contrast the $150,000 that you will need to spend if you decide to drive with that of the cost of riding a bicycle – which can be anything between $100 and $3,000, with subsequent maintenance coming up to between $150 and $300 a year, and that works out to less than 5 per cent of the cost of driving, which is a massive amount you’re saving.
The regular exercise you get from cycling would also mean you will miss work less from being sick. It would also lead to savings for various other medical expenses that a less healthy person would incur.
There is also one thing you could save on – the physical exercise may mean you do not need to fork out a cent on gym membership.
With all the benefits, direct or indirect, from cycling, is it little wonder then that more and more people are taking to cycling as a means of commuting to work? There’s also the option of the first-mile, last-mile journey where you could ride to an MRT station or a bus interchange so part of your journey is covered by an environmentally friendly, health-benefitting bicycle ride.
So ditch the motorised four-wheeler in favour of the mechanical two-wheeler. Or if you find that is too drastic, perhaps leave the car in the garage for just one cycling trip. It might just lead to another trip. And become the start of a beautiful journey to save the environment, your health and a lot of money. And since we’re on the topic of saving money, you might like to try out the many bike sharing services available as a low cost alternative to owning a bicycle.