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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 08-28-06, 02:27 PM   #1
lyeinyoureye
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Bikes and health.

It seems that when persuading people to go car free or car lite, the gist seems to be around saving money, the environment, etc... which is definitely not always true, and seems to be ignoring the best, most convincing argument for biking that is almost always true. Health, health, and your health! In the states, the three largest killers (Fig.3 ) seem to be heart disease, strokes, and cancer. Guess what increased biking does to these risks? In 1986, the British Journal of Industrial Medicine

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...studied 1,394 people and found that those who cycled regularly had the fitness levels of people ten years younger. The second paper was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2000. It was a fifteen-year study of 13,375 people and found that those who cycled to work were much less likely to die prematurely than those who did not. The report concludes, "Even after adjustment for other risk factors, including leisure time physical activity, those who did not cycle to work experienced a 39% higher mortality rate than those who did."
I'd bet that having the average fitness level of those who are a decade younger than you puts you in their risk group for heart disease, strokes, and certain types of cancers. Significantly reducing your chances of dying. Bicycling compared to driving may also reduce fossil fuel consumption slightly, and may save you a bit of money, but that really depends on context. For example, most people aren't in shape, so getting in shape will most likely result in a healthy/less fossil fuel intensive diet and reduce some or all of your gasoline use. Otoh, if an individual is already healthy, then biking everywhere may use as much in terms of fossil fuels as driving an efficient car the same distance due to lack of reduction in diet, and the current fossil fuel overhead. Not to mention it may not be practical for larger distances. For some people, giving up their car may require them to use public transit which can more more expensive, and less convienient. It's a YMMV deal.

So, bicycle because you'll live longer, and probably be happier, not because of any other reasons. If I want to cut my fossil fuel use, then it's much more effective to cut my electricity usage or get a more efficient car and modify/drive it for efficiency, than bike places. Getting a driving a geo metro slowly should allow for ~100mpg depending, and building your own EV along the lines of vw's 1L car would be the hands down winner of a bicycle in terms of fossil fuel use. If you reduce your electrical consumption enough you may be able to run everything off of solar or win electricity. Build your own house with lots of insulation and evaporative cooling. I've heard it can be done such that it's in the high 70's inside when it's in the 110's outside on a few hundred watts and effective design. Never buy new, DIY, and don't mix your issues!
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Old 08-28-06, 03:24 PM   #2
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You're ight that multiple complex variables come into play. For example, it you are commited to bike transportation you're likely to plan to live close to work and shops.

If you are out of shape and start biking for fitness, you may end up living longer, and as Professor Ulrich points out, that may actually lead to greater lifetime energy consumption, because only a small part of our daily power usage is for transport, but if you combine it with other environmentally sound choices you can counteract that unintended consequence.
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Old 08-28-06, 03:36 PM   #3
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Omfg, that's wrong. Live longer you energy hogs! But kinda true...
Did the professor include the decrease in health care costs associated... wait, read the blog, and it would make sense that the dollar cost is high while the energy cost is low. Of course, the notion of funneling profits to a small minority brings up the disparity in resource availability, which definitely leads to inefficiency. I suppose the answer to all this modeling is to figure out what's best for each individual, since that's pretty easy to determine. Ride your bike down to the corner store, and to work if you can. Build a velomobile EV if you can, reduce consumption if you can, etc...
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Old 08-28-06, 03:40 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by cooker
You're ight that multiple complex variables come into play. For example, it you are commited to bike transportation you're likely to plan to live close to work and shops.

If you are out of shape and start biking for fitness, you may end up living longer, and as Professor Ulrich points out, that may actually lead to greater lifetime energy consumption, because only a small part of our daily power usage is for transport, but if you combine it with other environmentally sound choices you can counteract that unintended consequence.
Thanks for the interesting link.

We car free people do better than figure 1 shows.
From the article:
" I assume that an individual owns an automobile whether using a bicycle for transportation or not, and so the automotive energy consumption does not account for the energy required to manufacture the vehicle, which is typically about 10 percent of the energy consumed over the life of the vehicle."
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Old 08-28-06, 03:45 PM   #5
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Also, someone can still have a car and not contribute to the initial energy cost by getting and fixing a car that would otherwise go to the scrapyard. YMMV.
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Old 08-30-06, 05:39 PM   #6
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Exercise and health is really a reason to cycle, more than it is a reason to be carfree. But sometimes cycling for health is the first step. The next step is time and efficiency. I don't have time to cycle 60 minutes a day for my health UNLESS I can kill two birds with one stone: Bike-commute 30 minutes to work and 30 minutes home, instead of driving 20 minutes each way. Voila! 60 minutes of exercise that uses only 20 minutes of additional time!

This is how you hook them!

But the other problem that many people--MAYBE MOST!--give as a primary reason for not cycling places: I'm not in good enough shape! I don't want to get sweaty and out of breath! I am fat and weak! I will die if I don't drive my car!

Seriously, this is a reason many people give for not bike-commuting. I've had several people tell me, "You can do it because you're in good shape. I never could." Most tune me out when I explain that a few years ago, before I started walking then cycling, I was NOT in good shape--I weighed 320 pounds and I had a heart attack! People are so illogical....
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Old 08-31-06, 05:21 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Roody
But the other problem that many people--MAYBE MOST!--give as a primary reason for not cycling places: I'm not in good enough shape! I don't want to get sweaty and out of breath! I am fat and weak! I will die if I don't drive my car!

Seriously, this is a reason many people give for not bike-commuting. I've had several people tell me, "You can do it because you're in good shape. I never could." Most tune me out when I explain that a few years ago, before I started walking then cycling, I was NOT in good shape--I weighed 320 pounds and I had a heart attack! People are so illogical....
I here this so many times, i sometimes wonder if i'm superhuman!!!
Apparently no-one else i come into contact with can cycle for more than 5 mins at a time or do an exercise class a couple of times a week. They will start when they've lost a few pounds though...
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Old 08-31-06, 10:34 AM   #8
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So true.... I hear this all the time as well.

Any ideas about "appropriate responses", especially when trying to encourage others to cycle?

I usually ask people if they can walk for 20 minutes. If they say yes, I tell them that they have plenty enough leg power to do daily errands on a bike.
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Old 08-31-06, 10:37 AM   #9
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I'd live longer if lyeinyoureye changed his avatar. uke:
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Old 08-31-06, 10:42 AM   #10
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Regular exercise of most sorts are good for you. My challenge has been to keep a check on my food consumption. I get so darn hungry after cycling and it's too easy to reach for something junky. I've recently trained myself to snack healthier. I don't commute by bike for exercise or to save money or the environment though. I do it because it's fun.
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Old 08-31-06, 10:51 AM   #11
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you start cycling for fitness..., you may end up living longer, ..., that may actually lead to greater lifetime energy consumption
Yeah, either way, we need people to make reasonable decisions about how many offspring to create.
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Old 08-31-06, 12:07 PM   #12
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^ well biking can lead to impotence. yet again the two wheeled contraption saves the world
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Old 08-31-06, 02:40 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by damian_
So true.... I hear this all the time as well.

Any ideas about "appropriate responses", especially when trying to encourage others to cycle?

I usually ask people if they can walk for 20 minutes. If they say yes, I tell them that they have plenty enough leg power to do daily errands on a bike.
Personally, I found the biggest challenge was getting over the "naked" feeling. Otoh, once they actually go out cycling for a few hours over 20-30 miles, get all the stuff done they would've in a car, and come back home to chill having exercised and done all their chores... They'll probably feel pretty "liberated". I think one of the biggest issues with newbs is that feeling. I mean I actually got it back once I moved...
Anyway, imho they need to work up to a decent range via a set route, always have a bit of water/food on them. Pick the safest routes, "take the lane", and above all else, have an extra chain/tubes/patches/pump/cartridges on them, and the ability to fix their bike in few minutes. Once they see that they can go 30 miles NP, and fix their own ride in minutes, all while combining exercise and daily activities, I think they'll be sold.

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I'd live longer if lyeinyoureye changed his avatar. uke:
Hay baby! I was thinking I should crop it to get the "full" effect, but I'm kinda lazy, so I'll probably only post about cropping it.
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Old 08-31-06, 03:22 PM   #14
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My eyes - my eyes - I now will go put lye in them to wash them out
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Old 09-02-06, 12:04 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Bike_UK
I here this so many times, i sometimes wonder if i'm superhuman!!!
Apparently no-one else i come into contact with can cycle for more than 5 mins at a time or do an exercise class a couple of times a week. They will start when they've lost a few pounds though...
I think these are excuses people use but avoid the most obvious. I'm 43 and most people my age (like my wife) are really worried about falling and looking stupid.
The ad driven consumer society doesn't want us to use less but more, therefore make sure anyone who comsumes less is ignored or ridiculed. I've found older people are alot more influenced by peer pressure as compared to teenagers although this seems contrary to popular opinion.
I'm amazed at the lack of balance people my age seem to have. It's like they got off the bike at 16 and never looked back. Now if they want to start riding again they have to get back into a 7 year old mind set. Took me awhile after I started cycling again around 15 years ago but I soon re-learned and now I wouldn't ever not ride to work/store/etc..
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Old 09-02-06, 07:12 AM   #16
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well biking can lead to impotence. yet again the two wheeled contraption saves the world
Studies show that exercise reduces a man's chance of suffering from impotence. Relative to, say, swimming, bicycling might lead to more impotence, but relative to sitting still, biking may lead to less impotence.

click here for one take on the issue

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Old 09-03-06, 12:37 PM   #17
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I bike because:

a) it is fun
b) it is faster than driving or subway
c) good exercise
d) it is fun
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Old 09-03-06, 02:56 PM   #18
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about long lifespan and increased energy use: a lot of people live to a great old age without cycling! if you look at 100-year-olds, i doubt that most of them have spent any significant amount of time biking. you can hike or swim or play basketball or run on a treadmill or whatever for two hours a day and get in great shape. you don't have to get rid of your car to do those things, and you might even use your car to drive to the mountains or swimming pool or basketball court or health club; driving to those places uses gas, and cycling doesn't. as far as i'm concerned, cycling is better.

besides, i don't think most cyclists think in terms of making one change (using a bike instead of a car) to save the world. if you want to save the world, you have to do other stuff, too. (have fewer kids, recycle, eat organic local food, whatever.) i'd think most "environmentalist" cyclists would make a holistic effort to be less of a strain on the earth.

i don't mean to argue or anything! that's just my opinion.


anyway, i started riding bikes for fun, then (this summer) more for fitness. somehow along the way i got serious about wanting to ride my bike to work instead of driving. i don't know how that happened! i have a partially broken "biodiesel vessel" (82 mercedes 300d) that after a year of work still isn't roadworthy, so maybe that was part of it. i wanted to do *something*. i've only been avidly, neurotically fixated on cycling for the past few months, and already i feel like i'm in a totally different category of aerobic health. it's awesome! i use my inhaler less and less while riding longer, too (i have allergic asthma). maybe when i'm 80 i'll be doing ironman
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Old 09-03-06, 07:58 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by yes
^ well biking can lead to impotence. yet again the two wheeled contraption saves the world
BS ! The major cause of impotence is cardiovascular disease. Biking reduces this greatly. Yes, a few cases of impotence will by caused by bike seats, but on balance, biking cures impotence.

Likewise, seat belts and airbags do cause some deaths, but you'd be foolish not to use them while riding in a car.
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Old 09-03-06, 08:29 PM   #20
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My biggest reason for biking is simply for the enjoyment. The facts that I save money and get exercise are just side benefits that happen to go along with it.
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Old 09-05-06, 11:37 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by damian_
So true.... I hear this all the time as well.

Any ideas about "appropriate responses", especially when trying to encourage others to cycle?

I usually ask people if they can walk for 20 minutes. If they say yes, I tell them that they have plenty enough leg power to do daily errands on a bike
.
You are very right, IMO. Moderate cycling takes aout the same effort as walking or a comparable time (not distance). And since moderate cycling is three times faster thazn moderate walking, you can cover a lot more distance.

Actually, for some people who are middle aged and sedentary, walking might be a better first choice for exercise than cycling. Walking doesn't require any new equipment or skills, and they don't have to worry about falling. A novice could work up gradually to being able to walk at least 3.5 miles in one hour. Then they can ride for an hour with little difficulty, and work up from there. This routine worked well for me. I can now ride for 25 miles a day/seven days a week with no problem.
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