Monday, July 09, 2007


I love how versatile the bike is in terms, not only, of uses but also in the benefits one accrues from using it on a regular basis. Here's a little known fact- the car is a highly inefficient form of transportation: it is so heavy that 95% of the energy consumed by it is used to move itself and only 5% to move the person. Think about it and this should make sense to you. How heavy are you? How heavy is your car? How much energy would it take to move you? Makes you wonder which genius came up with the SUV.

The bike on the other hand is one of the most efficient forms of transportation. You pedal and it gets you to your destination. And you get there in a much better frame of mind than sitting in those rush-hour snarl-ups. You get to enjoy the wind in your hair more cheaply than buying a convertible. You save on gas and you help the environment stay green. You have the independence to go where you want to go; even to car-free zones. And you end up healthier every time you pedal. What's not to like?

Countries in Asia, like India and China, have traditionally had many bicyclists as it was the most practical and cheap form of transportation available to the common man. But it is seen as the poor person's means of conveyance at this point and everyone is hankering to get to a place where they can own a car or two now. Parts of north-western Europe on the other hand have been moving in the opposite direction. I loved seeing everyone going about their daily life on their bicycles on this trip to Europe. It did not matter if you were dressed special or had your big dog or all five of your kids with you. You could do whatever you needed to do with your bike. Oh, you need to get to work and its far away? Ok, get on the bike, get to the commuter train or tram or bus, load up your bike and go. Oh your work involves carrying heavy stuff? There are attachments for bikes which will allow you to move things around. I loved how much a part of their life the Europeans had made the bike - especially in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands and some of the other Northern European countries have made riding bikes very much easier for their citizens by providing specials lanes for bikers on all roads. These are clearly marked and do not just meander off into nowhere. Even alongside highways, special bike paths exist for those who want to go longer distances on their two-wheels. Children are taught bike-safety and road rules for traffic at school as part of their mandatory class-work. This leads not only to safer traffic all around but also to a lot more children who are independent and can bike to where they want to go.
Imagine how much we would gain in terms of cleaner environment, less expenditure and use of gas, the (mental and physical) health benefits of a physically active lifestyle if we chose to replace our car with the bike as our main mode of transportation.

[I have provided a link to a private website extolling the virtues and weirdness of biking in Amsterdam with some really cool and funny images. Enjoy]


April said...

Loved it! Have you seen this? I think the ecovillage needs a few of these!


Radhika said...

Yes, this looks nice. I think transportation is important but I think we stunt ourselves with our reliance on certain modes. There have to be better, funner, more cost-effective and healthier options for all of us for everyday uses.