There are a lot of ways to get to school every morning. You can drive, carpool, walk, take the bus, roller-blade or ride your bicycle. Although most students drive or take the bus, there are a lot of reasons to ride your bicycle to class. Here are the top five:
The relative cost of cycling to school should be a huge draw for students. Even if you’re carpooling, transportation costs are at least $50-$100 per month, and post-secondary monthly bus passes are almost $60 a month. On the other hand, riding your bicycle will probably cost an average of $15 in repairs and upkeep per month. Getting exercise from your bike ride to work will also save you money on a gym membership.
Between classes, work, studying and having a social life, it can be extremely difficult to squeeze in time for exercise. It can also be pretty hard to get motivated; sitting on the couch watching Lost sounds a lot more fun than going for a run. This is one of the most appealing benefits of cycling to school. You have to get there somehow, and whether you’re sitting on the bus or driving a car, you’re not really getting much else done. But with cycling, you’re getting where you need to go and you’re getting your exercise for the day. Even if your home is only a 10-minute ride from the university, that’s still 20 minutes of exercise you don’t need to get elsewhere.
Exercise isn’t the only reason that cycling is a healthy form of transportation. Cycling to class can reduce stress both through releasing endorphins as you exercise, and by preventing the stress involved in traffic jams, congestion and unreliable public transportation.
The British television show Top Gear once did a special where the hosts raced across central London using a car, speed boat, bicycle and public transportation. The bicycle won be a fair margin, with the car coming in dead last. Although Winnipeg might not have the kind of congestion that central London has, you’d be surprised by how fast a bicycle can get you where you’re going. Bicycles are very good at bypassing traffic jams. A trip from downtown to the Fort Garry Campus only takes 30 minutes during rush hour, and you can park your bike right outside your class. There’s no waiting for your bus, no struggle to find parking, and no walking.
Bicycles are also an extremely reliable form of transportation. The most common issue cyclists have on the road is a flat, which is easily changed in 15 minutes. Bicycles can also be brought onto the bus, should time be a factor. If your car breaks down, there’s a pretty good chance you aren’t going to be able to fix it on the road, and you can’t exactly take it on the bus with you. At least with public transportation, if the bus breaks down another will be along shortly. Hopefully. But any regular bus rider will tell you that Winnipeg Transit busses are notoriously unreliable. They break down, they’re late, they’re early, and sometimes they just don’t show up at all.
- Environmental Factors
The environmental benefits of cycling are numerous. Cycling reduces air and water pollution, as well as greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption and noise pollution. Additionally, fewer vehicles on the road means less congestion and road wear.
- Winnipeg is (finally) becoming more bicycle-friendly
Many people choose not to commute by bicycle for safety reasons. The city has very few bicycle lanes and paths, and Winnipeg drivers can be reckless at the best of times. However, that is changing. This past Sunday Winnipeg had its first Ciclovia. The city closed Broadway from Main to Osborne, creating a cycling route from Assiniboine Park to the Forks. There are also plans to create an alternate route for cyclists coming from downtown to the Fort Garry campus.
If none of the above is enough to convince you, at least take solace that as a cyclist your very presence on the road will likely enrage at least one self-righteous motorist.