Bike, Don’t Drive

by Austin Hollis
Columnist

Just because the weather is getting chilly doesn’t mean that we should stop thinking about efficient, eco-friendly ways to get from A to B, and this week I’d like to talk about the perfect zero-emission form of transportation that every college student should be using: bicycling!

Cycling is great because it packs a double whammy: good for the planet also means good for us too. A bicycle uses no gas and burns only calories. It’s also helpful for the community, lessening traffic congestion as well as improving public health.

Not convinced yet? A few years ago, the University of Kentucky did a study on cycling that found that, for students who lived less than five miles away from campus, door-to-door travel time from dorm to classroom was significantly shorter for those who biked, compared to those who had to drive the same distance.

The amount of energy saved by cycling instead of driving is also impressive. Consider this: If each of the 250,000 people in Lexington biked (instead of drove) just a single two-mile round-trip per week, we would collectively save $3,000 worth of gasoline and prevent 460 tons of carbon dioxide emissions from entering the atmosphere.

So with all these advantages in mind, there’s really no reason to not be cycling as much as possible. Transy’s central location in Lexington means that nearly everything you could ever want is no more than 25 minutes away by bike. For example, if you need groceries, look at all the possibilities: Dollar Tree (0.9 miles); Save-a-Lot (1.1); Wal-Mart (1.7); “Ghetto Kroger” (Old Paris Road – 1.9); UK Kroger (Euclid Avenue – 2.2); “Nice Kroger” (Bryan Station Road – 2.5). Lexington currently boasts 22 miles of bike lanes and 27 miles of roads with paved shoulders, plus an additional 16 miles of bike lanes in the works.

You might think that starting cycling would be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Sure, you can go out and buy a brand-new, top-of-the-line machine for many hundreds of dollars, but the Web site craigslist is a great resource for second-hand things: my friend found an old road bike for less than 50 bucks a few weeks ago. And if you plan on riding regularly, it’s a good idea to get some good accessories (lights, rack, panniers, fenders, etc.) for your bike. Luckily, Lexington has a number of locally owned bike shops (Pedal Power on the corner of South Upper and West Maxwell Streets is great) within walking distance.

As for designing bike routes to use, I’ll just say that Google is your friend.

And one final note, mark your calendars for the second Sunday of every month for a bike ride on city streets to a different bike trail or park. The next one is Sunday, Nov. 8, at Cheapside Park. It begins at 11 a.m. and will be police-escorted.

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