Archive for Health

Discouraged Americans Kick the SUV Habit – Europeans on Bicycles.

Statistics show 3000% More Bike Commutes in European Cities over U.S. Cities

Amsterdam Bicycle Work Suit

I live in San Diego, CA where I visited the local pumps today as a passenger in a friend’s car. It had been over a week since I last hit the pumps on my own. Even after prices have risen relentlessly for months, I’m still always shocked to see the next rung on that ladder staring down at me from the fat, yellow Exxon sign.

Today’s read: $4.99 per gallon.

I sat at an average intersection stop light a week ago and curiously found myself counting. I counted 18 SUV’s/Trucks cross the intersection before the 1st car passed. And believe me, after moving here from Texas I can assure you, the trucks are much bigger and the SUV-density is much higher back in Dallas.

But, I have no room to complain. I admit, I’ve been one of the many spoiled Americans cruising around in a Range Rover, rarely giving a second thought about gas prices. But, 3 days ago when my Rover broke down on the road, I pledged to try my best to hold off fixing it or replacing it – indefinitely.

I love to bike.

And, since I work from home at my computer every day and live 1 block from the neighborhood grocery store and my city has decent public transportation, I think I may actually be able to pull it off.

A friend of mine is from Thailand and English is her 2nd language. She’s lived in the United States for about 8 months now and I am always happy to teach her a new idiom. This weekend I found myself relaying the meaning of the well-known one: ‘A blessing in disguise’.

So far, it’s been a week and I’ve saved $100 in gas (yes, the RR gets about 11 miles to the gallon). I also lost an additional 5 lbs around my waist this week (plenty more to go) and find myself more generally aware of my surroundings. It feels a little like a nice, cool splash of water on my face – all in all, not one ounce of regret.

We’ll see how I feel in a month…ha!

But, for now, I’m driving my bicycle even more than normal and loving it. I’m not sure if you’ve ever owned a really nice bike (if it comes from Wal-Mart or Target, then no, you probably haven’t), but a good bike is worth it’s weight in gold.

I, on the other hand, have only a low-mid level Trek mountain bike. Don’t get me wrong – I do appreciate my bike. It cost me all of $400 but it was love at 1st sight for me. However, I think I may be able to afford to put some of the $500+/mo that I’ll be saving, into a better bike – yay!

I read up a little this weekend and discovered a couple stats about bike use in different cities and countries around the world. I find it very interesting that of all the ‘point A to point B’ trips that take place inside the walls of the US, only 1% of those trips happen aboard a bicycle whereas in some parts of Europe that number rises to as high as 30%! Reminds me of this infamous web page about bicycles in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

amsterdam bicycle dress

Click for a Peek into the Streets of Amsterdam.

Percent of Trips by Mode of Travel

Country bicycle walking public transit car other
Netherlands 30 18 5 45 2
Denmark 20 21 14 42 3
Germany 12 22 16 49 1
Switzerland 10 29 20 38 1
Sweden 10 39 11 36 4
Austria 9 31 13 39 8
England/Wales 8 12 14 62 4
France 5 30 12 47 6
Italy 5 28 16 42 9
Canada 1 10 14 74 1
United States 1 9 3 84 3
Other = waddling, hopping on one leg and in rare cases, pogo-sticking it.

Source: John Pucher | Transportation Quarterly, 98-1 | Latest from various transport ministries…

I have the feeling these numbers will increase over the next year. One day we might all see these high gas prices as a blessing in disguise.

UPDATE: It’s now July 18th and I’m still SUV-FREE and relying 100% on mountain biking for my transportation. I continue to lose weight. I’ve gone from 226 lbs to 203 lbs as of this morning. I’m pretty sure at this point it’s fair to say that America is NOT lost. Change your habits – change your life – change your future. In fact, that might just become this site’s new motto :-)

Anyway, a simple choice can open you up to a new and different lifestyle and your path can be changed dramatically by opening your eyes a little wider.

before the rr broke down...

5 weeks after I stopped driving and started riding...