Why ride a bike instead?

Never mind global warming.

Yes, there seems to be a clear consensus among the scientific community confirming “global warming”, which is defined as “an increase in the earth’s atmospheric and oceanic temperatures widely predicted to occur due to an increase in the greenhouse effect resulting especially from pollution” by the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

“Many scientists predict that such an increase in temperature would cause polar ice caps and mountain glaciers to melt rapidly, significantly raising the levels of coastal waters, and would produce new patterns and extremes of drought and rainfall, seriously disrupting food production in certain regions” according to the Concise Encyclopedia.

The term “greenhouse gas” or GHG has emerged to describe the pollution responsible for the greenhouse effect and the US EPA credits over 80% of the source of GHG to electricity production (34%), transportation (27%) and industry (20%). So, with over a quarter of GHG pollution coming from transportation there is plenty of room for reduction but this has not been enough of a reason to convince people to stop driving and flying in jets.

Therefore offered herein are a few more considerations to enlighten the willing.

Other pollution. Ever wonder where tire rubber goes? A motor vehicle will wear through several sets of tires in its lifetime and all that rubber must go somewhere! Ditto for brake pads and a variety of petroleum based fluids that leak out. None of this pollution is regulated at all, so it is in our air, water soil and food.

Personal finance. AAA says the average cost for car ownership is over $9,000 per year. This is the direct cost to drivers and doesn’t include the public costs to construct and maintain infrastructure, nor the increased cost of health care and other indirect costs.

Physical health. Speaking of health costs, epidemic obesity due to poor eating habits and inactivity is a prime driver to increasing health care costs. It is unsafe for children to walk or ride a bike to school, contributing to childhood obesity.

Mental health. Motor vehicle users are insulated from the natural world and from each other. The experience of riding a bike is fun and allows a real connection to the natural world.

Public space. The public roadways have become so unsafe walking or riding a bike is out of the question for most people. It is not even safe for children and pets in front of their own homes because of the speeding motor vehicles that dominate these public spaces. They are only slightly aware of the carnage left behind and known as “road kill”, which is dead wildlife that makes the error of wandering into the path of a speeding vehicle.

Social effects. Road Rage is a term coined to define the behavior of especially rude drivers, but most drivers experience some level of frustration and behave badly when isolated from each other inside closed compartments. If people acted the same in line at the bank or grocery store there would be brawls every day. Safe from confrontation and inspired by NASCAR drivers are in competition to make it to the next red light first.

Political influence. All of these costs add up and enrich petroleum, defense, motor vehicle, and the finance and insurance business is most lucrative regarding motor vehicles. What other product has the government stepped in and required people to buy? Why is the US military at war in the middle east? How much political influence does the petroleum industry have? What other industries receive multi billion dollar bail outs when their business models collapse?

So, never mind the global warming caused by private motor vehicles, there are plenty of other reasons to park the car and ride bikes instead.