Bicycle Commuting: The Benefits for Students

Image by Tejvan Pettinger, Flickr

Image by Tejvan Pettinger, Flickr

Cycling is an excellent mode of transportation for students – just think of the money you’ll save and the calories you’ll burn! You might think that the rain accompanied by spring means it’s time to put away your bike: however, there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad equipment!

Cycling is an impactful social, financial and environmental choice that drastically reduces greenhouse gas emissions and pollution. Not only that, it has great health benefits, too.

Health Benefits

Let’s imagine that we commute by bike to school, which is a 30 km (round) trip. It will take us 90 minutes to complete this commute. For an average male, that burns over 9000 calories a month – just getting to and from school. You could give up your gym membership and bask in the glory of your new-found mode of transport! Not to mention, getting an early morning workout will keep your brain active and your body fresh; cycling is a full body workout that improves cardiovascular fitness, strengthens muscles, burns fat and improves coordination.

Financial Benefits

Keeping your bike on the road is cheap and easy: you don’t have to pay any municipal fees or taxes, and maintenance is relatively hassle-free. It also works out to be cheaper than using public transit. For example, Toronto Transit Commission monthly student passes total $1296 per year. You don’t even have to commute everyday by bike to help reduce this price. If you were to only bike during the summer (3 months) it would reduce this total by $324 – giving you significant financial savings.

If you cycled our 30 km school commute instead of driving, you would save yourself over $75 per month just on gas. You can see for yourself with this nifty Commute Impact Calculator from Metrolinx’s Smart Commute program.

Environmental Benefits

Let’s not forget about the great environmental benefits of commuting by bike. The Seeds Foundation reports that the average Canadian produces roughly 5 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year. However, if you were to leave your car in the driveway and cycle our 30km daily commute, you would save 1.6 tonnes in greenhouse emissions per year!

Stay Safe

Before we go any further, there’s one issue above all others: safety. Cycling need not be a dangerous hobby or commute.

  1. Although helmets are not required by law in Ontario, they serve as the best type of defence against head injuries. A good solid helmet should cover your forehead and fit snugly.
  2. Lights are important for improving your visibility. White lights are used at the front of your bike, and red lights at the back. Reflectors also increase your visibility. These should come with your bike.
  3. In Ontario, a bell is mandatory for any bicycle. They are a cheap and effective way of audibly alerting pedestrians to your presence.
  4. Follow all road laws in your area. Pedal power does not exclude you from the responsibility of obeying proper road safety. No running red lights or stop signs, no riding on the sidewalk, etc.

This is Part One in a four-part series on bicycle commuting. Also check out:
Part Two – Bicycle Commuting: Which Bike Is Right For Me?
Part Three – Bicycle Commuting: Do I Really Need To Wear Those Unflattering Shorts?

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