A student’s perspective on bicycle commuting

As a co-op student, my academic career has so far taken me from school to workplace and everywhere in between. Commuting to these destinations was mostly a car affair, until recently. In September I started my last co-op work term and I was determined to make a lifestyle change and use a bicycle as a secondary mode of transportation, for various different reasons which I will discuss below.

The most important factor in my decision was getting back to a less round shape, and cycling has become a small piece of this weight-loss puzzle. My commute time has decreased by about 10 minutes in this time, yet so far I haven’t lost any weight. I haven’t gained any weight either, which I suppose is still a positive outcome. Although not quantifiable, I can think of other health-related benefits of cycling such as reduced stress and increased productivity. Anecdotally speaking, I arrive at work in a much better mood after my commute and the exercise gives me a noticeable boost to start my work day.

The second reason, which many students can relate to, is that commuting by bicycle is more cost effective than driving. My capital investment was quite large for a student’s budget, but this only reflects my wants, not my needs, and I could have achieved similar results with a smaller budget. After factoring car maintenance and fuel costs into my calculations, I figured my investment will be paid back within 18 months, although this is a very conservative estimation. With a smaller budget, the return on investment could be realized much sooner. Students and other people with a smaller budget can benefit greatly from the cost-effectiveness of owning and operating a two-wheeled, man-powered vehicle.

Lastly, I have to throw in the over-used cliché that cycling is a more environmentally friendly commuting alternative to using a personal vehicle. While this is a very politicized and polarizing topic, I’d like to think that I make a small difference by not pumping noxious gases into the air for others to breathe. I’m not much of a believer in anthropogenic global warming, but this should not stop me from believing that car emissions are not a healthy additive to my daily allowance of air.

In conclusion, I’d like to invite those of you who read this post to take a moment and consider these benefits of riding your bicycle to work or school on a regular basis. I still remember the day my father bought me my first bicycle, and how that symbolized an important transition in my life. Every day I ride I feel the same way I did when I took that first bike for a spin.

3 thoughts on “A student’s perspective on bicycle commuting

  1. In my first year of riding a bike, I lost around 10-15lbs. I was never overweight to begin with, however I am now at a consistent weight.
    Although I try to eat a mostly healthy diet, I have some weaknesses that can be fattening. Thankfully riding burns all those treats off!

    When I started riding 5 or 6 years ago it was mainly because I tired of taking transit and for about two years my Dad kept hounding me to ride a bike. Most of the time I ended up walking, and although St. Catharines is quite walkable, it still took a while.
    Where it would take me an hour to walk before, it takes me about 15-20 minutes to cycle.

    I think it was in my second year of riding that I even thought of the environmental benefits.

  2. Exercise is wicked beneficial. You don’t need a lot to get huge gains. When I was running, I lost all my weight building up to 10k. I eventually ran a marathon, and only lost another few pounds. It’s all up front.

    I also like cheap. I’ve been out of school for 10 years, but still don’t see the need to spend. Biking is cost-efficient.

    Like Ryan I consider the environmental benefits a side effect, not motivation.

  3. I’ve used a bike for transportation ever since I can remember. My mom was a huge example, which I’ll get into in future posts. But it wasn’t until I returned from Africa in 2007 and was convinced I had to live differently. Just because I could consume 7 planets didn’t mean I should. I saw first had how climate change impacts subsistent farmers and realized that I needed to make changes in numerous lifestyle areas. Transportation was one of them and becoming less dependent on the automobile was one of them. So instead of being a casual sans l’auto commuter I became a dedicated one. And now with the help of this blog (aka like-minded encouraging friends), I’m becoming a fanatical one … hence commuting with my hockey gear is a huge personal milestone.

    We’ve all got our reasons, which is why this lifestyle switch is so interesting.

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