Biking vs. Walking

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

kids, flex, tattoos, blue

I recently joined up for the Bike to Work challenge being hosted by the City of Ottawa. The point is to create a goal about how much you would like to bike to work during the month of May, post your goal on their website, and then work towards that goal. Everything was going really well, I signed up on the site, set my goal.... and then I realized a day later that I have moved and don't bike as much as I used to, In fact, I don't actually need to bike at all to get to work.

So now I am stuck in the precarious postilion of in no way being able to meet my cycling goal. This has played heavily on my mind and it got me thinking... what is better for the environment, walking or biking. At first glance you would think walking has biking beat hands down on this one; but maybe not.

First consider the amount of stuff that goes into making a bike (frame, pedals, seat, etc.) and maintaining. This number isn't so bad if you consider that amount of time you keep a bike for. If your bike lasts 10 years, how many pairs of shoes will you go through during that same period? Not only that, you have to consider the use of the shoes on a kilometre to kilometre basis. So how many pairs of shoes does that total up to?

Did you know the average Canadian owns something like 22 pairs of foot wear? Seriously, go check your closet. Shoes are a fashion item and are therefore marketed heavily in society. Bikes are also heavily marketed but because of their size and their cost, people don't buy a bunch of bikes. If I had to guess, a person will go through about 200 pairs of shoes / boots during their lifetime. As for bikes, I figure (and this is a complete guess) the average person will go through about 6 or 7 bikes.

End of Life
So the other thing to think about is what happens to your shoes when you are done with them. Don't worry, we all know that for the most part they go into the garbage bin (I mean come... they are bacteria traps, right? Come on). Bikes though, we it is rare that an entire bike would go right into the garbage bin. Usually they are resold or stripped for parts, so if you think about it they actually have a life-cycle that is much much longer.

This is a pretty simple comparison... how far can you go on a bike versus by foot, and how long does it take? Bikes = further + faster.

So you see my dilemma right? I mean my heart rate gets a lot higher when I am biking, but of course I am at a higher risk of getting hit by a car. Although I do get around a lot faster. And if you look at what the uOttawa campus offers in terms of biking facilities (secure bike enclosure, bike share program, showers, counter-flow bike lanes, and a bike coop), you can see that there a a lot of good reasons why I would want to hit the bike again rather than beat my feat.

A little help please?

~jON - campus sustainability manager
photo credit - jonathan rausseo

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