Quite a number of Caymans residents are using their bikes to travel to and from work and run errands. Some ride to save money, others ride to for the many health benefits, and still others ride to do their part to slow global warming. Why should you ride? Hopefully the information on this page will help you answer that question.
A great number of Caymans residentslive within 5 miles of their place of employment. Your daily trip to and from work doesn't seem like much, looking at the Fuel Cost Calculator and Fuel Efficiency of a mid sized vehicle (35 mpg) you quickly get an idea of much you are spending per round trip which does not take into account other trips made.
$7.14 per week on fuel
$28.57 per month on fuel
$371.43 per year on fuel
Do you pay for parking? If you do, riding your bike to work will save you even more money. Not to mention you will likely get a great parking spot right next to your building. Consider that for some the cost of parking for one year can be more than the cost of the bike you would ride to work. Need proof, if you park at Piccadilly Car park, the average cost of a parking permit is $1,200 per year! There are a lot of nice bikes on island for $300 or less, a fraction of the cost, which will last for years to come.
We all know we should exercise. According to the USDA, 30 minutes of moderate exercise (above your normal activity level) will reduce your risk of chronic disease. If you live 5 miles from work and pedaled a leisurely pace of 8 mph it would take you about 37 minutes to get to work. It likely takes you about 15 minutes to drive to work. So why not ride and get healthier?
At 8 mph you'll have 37 minutes to enjoy prepare yourself for the day and the same is true on the way home. You'll reduce your stress level, sleep better, and feel better.
Most agree that the use of cars is contributing to global warming and overall pollution. US, the leading nation in terms of pollution, is responsible for nearly 50% of the world-wide carbon dioxide produced from cars. It's been suggested that if citizens that live within 5 miles of their workplace would leave their car at home and ride a bike to work just one day a week nearly 5 million tons of global warming pollution would be saved every year. That's just 52 times that you would need to ride your bike to work to make a difference. We obviously do not pollute on the same level however with the current levels of green house gases, global warming causing polar ice melts, flooding and changing weather patterns every little bit helps.
Solution:Drive to work once a week, drop off several days worth of clean clothes at the office and take the dirty stuff home. You can schedule other side trips for Fridays. If your bike commute is a short one, simply wear your office clothes and appropriate biking shoes. Drivers may even be more careful if you’re dressed like a lawyer.” (Bicycling Made Easy. Rodale Press, 1992)
Solution:You don’t actually need a shower at work to look and smell good all day during Bike to Work Week. Keep a washcloth, soap, hand towel and deodorant in your desk or locker. Arrive a few minutes early (use the time you saved not driving around the parking lot and walking in). Clean up in a washroom using the sink.
And, perhaps there are more important values at stake than perfect hair? I’ve seen women who’ve gotten into biking who really come alive after just a few months. They’re radiant, they’ve lost weight, their shoulders are back, and they’re full of renewed confidence.
It’s important for women commuters to be careful. But there’s a difference between prudent bicycle caution and irrational fear that keeps you belted into your car every day.
Being in or near your car is not protection from violence, assaults in parking lots and garages or accidents.
Fortunately Cayman is a very safe community in terms of these types of incidents.
“You are five times more likely to be killed or injured in a car, than on a bike,” says the California Bicycle Coalition.
Tips for female bicycle commuter:
Have a car-related job? Perhaps you can schedule car-tasks for certain days. A bike commute the other one or two days a week still adds up to a worthwhile amount of fitness. Each time a driver makes a trip by bicycle, society as a whole reaps the benefits.
Energy-wise, our Caymanian lifestyles are becoming unsustainable and burden our fellow creatures. But a human on a bicycle is the most energy-efficient creature or vehicle on the planet, consuming only 0.15 calorie per gram per kilometer. A 10-mile trip in the average car uses 18,600 calories (half a gallon of foreign oil/gas). The same commute by bike uses only 350 calories (a bowl of rice). A hundred bicycles can be manufactured for the energy/resources it takes to build one medium-sized car.
Bill Nye (“the Science Guy”) doesn’t mince words: “Bicycling has to be a big part of the future. There’s something wrong with a society that drives a car to work out in a gym.”
The great thing about bike-commuting is, you don’t have to take the busy streets! Liberate yourself from the bumper-to-bumper car-commuter blues. With a little planning, you can explore the matrix of nearby quiet streets. Plan a route that takes you by the coffee shop, or library or health club to make it fun. You may travel a few extra miles, but more miles is more fitness. A Sunday afternoon with a friend or family is a perfect time to make a leisurely reconnaissance ride for a good route.
Alternatively, stagger your arrival and departure time to avoid traffic.
It’s okay to be a fair-weather biker: you’ll still build fitness, save calories and gas money. But don’t let fear of a rain shower or even the heat scare you away from riding at all.
You don’t need a special bike to commute. Even an old road/racing bike can be fitted with a light rack and a pack big enough to hold a change of clothes. Wearing a small backpack or fanny pack is another option. Sure, it’s great to have a special all-weather bike with fenders, lights, a front rack, panniers, sturdy wheels, and fancy touring tires. But if your commuting will be done only in daylight and rarely in the rain, an inexpensive, used “beater” bike is better than a shiny new one, assuming you maintain it properly. You won’t feel obligated to wash it every time it gets dirty, and each scratch won’t make you sick. It also won’t catch they eye of a potential bicycle thief.
Most buildings have an enclosed storage closet or out-of-the-way corner somewhere to stash and/or lock your bike. Even a bathroom or utility closet will do if you can’t actually leave the bike in your office. If you can’t secure your bike behind a locked door or put it where you can see it, fasten it to any immovable object with a stout U-lock. Like any theft, bicycle thefts are usually crimes of opportunity (e.g. bikes left unlocked at all), rather than planned events with lock-picking tools, bolt cutters, etc.
For many who ride, biking to work can be incorporated into your daily mileage or part of training for personal goals: losing weight, increasing energy, strengthening the immune system and staying healthy.
But if you’re too far from work, consider cycling only part of the way. Drive with in biking range, “park and pedal” the rest of the way. At some point, people who are serous about lasting health will begin to make real lifestyle changes around such obstacles. In other words, if you’re renting and live too far to bike to work move closer to work! Bike commuting challenges you to think more reasonably about your habits of life, not just transportation, and the crazy distances we cover each day with gas engines.
If choosing a healthy, sustainable life and benefiting your fellow citizens who remain in cars all day is weird, be proud of it. Many of your co-workers, friends or family has never met people who are willing to travel by bike rather than car. It has never occurred to them to not use a car to travel any distance farther than two blocks.
Warning: if you bicycle regularly, you will start having “abnormal” experiences: like becoming less moody, happier, losing excess weight, sleeping better and meeting new and interesting people. As running guru Dr. George Sheehan once said, “Exercise may not add years to your life, but it will certainly add life to your years.” And it will add life to our planet, including those who may be shaking their heads at you from inside the gas-hungry vehicles.