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An ode to the bike (and why it’s time to ditch your car)

The bike is the greatest invention of the previous millennium if you ask us. Yes, we are based in the Netherlands, so having another opinion would be blasphemy. But still… Be prepared: after reading it, you might want to park your car for good. At the scrapyard.  

We’ll discuss the obvious and less obvious benefits of biking, and we challenge people who feel they can’t live without a car to rethink their reasoning for this. Including ‘but I have children’.

The health benefits of (e-)biking to work 

We don’t have to tell you that exercise is good for you. But we will anyways.  

  • We need at least 2.5 hours (or 150 minutes) of moderate exercise per week, like biking, spread over multiple days. 53% of Dutch people don’t meet this threshold. Also, 55% of Europeans exercises less than three hours per week. 
  • Biking keeps your entire body healthy. From your heart and veins to your bones, abdomen, and brains.  
  • 2.3% of all illness and 6,000 death per year in the Netherlands are caused by too little exercise, and many more in Europe 

And then there’s the mental health benefits!  

  • (E-)biking can be meditative. The mental health benefits of mindfulness have been scientifically proven. 
  • Connecting with the outside world reduces stress 
  • Biking gives us the opportunity to clear our mind.  
  • The endorphins released during biking improve our mood. 
  • Biking increases our energy levels, making us more focussed throughout the day.  
  • Accomplishing (small) physical challenges gives our self-confidence a boost.  
  • It’s good for our social life. We have more short moments of positive interaction than in a car. 
  • It gives a sense of freedom and adventure. Explore new routes, make detours through the forest or take a break when you see a rainbow or pretty building.  
  • Biking is great for creativity. How often do brilliant ideas arrive at you when you’re showering, walking, using the toilet, or biking? Exactly!  

How biking creates liveable cities 

If you haven’t done so yet: follow Professor Marco te Brömmelstroet on LinkedIn. For this chapter, we tap into his wisdom, using some of the images he posted. 

Less cars = more space for trees, parks, and benches 

Cars are unsafe

In the chart below you see a child playing in the street, 13 meters away from a car. Only when the car drives 30 kilometres per hour, the child is safe. Or even better: without cars, the child is safe.

Cars are unsafe

Cars cause congestion, meaning long travel times

It has long been proven that building more roads does not lead to less congestion. What it does lead to is – for a brief period of time – better flow of cars, which stimulates both car use AND living further away from work, which leads to more cars on the road, which leads to further congestion. The solution? Less cars, more bikes. 

Bottleneck

To finish this chapter off, some brilliant quotes of our dear Te Brömmelstroet’s LinkedIn.

  • “Innovation isn’t always about the totally new. We need to open our eyes to the full potential of simplicity.” He’s talking about bikes of course.
  • “There is no ‘War on Cars’. There is an ongoing massacre on all other road users.” He’s talking about the large numbers of car-related accidents.

The benefits of biking for our planet

For our planetary health, biking is great too. Unlike cars, using your bike produces no CO2 and nitrogen emissions (stikstof), or air and noise pollution.

Also, the environmental costs (material, energy and water use, chemical pollution, etc.) of producing a bike is much lower.

Bicycles, bicycle infrastructure, and bicycle parking take way less space than cars, car infra and car parking. More space for nature!

The benefits of biking for your wallet

Driving is expensive? A middle class car that drives 13.500 km per year, costs you €638,50 per month. The monthly costs of riding a bike is devaluation plus maintenance. That’s max €16,95 per month, but probably less.

Even if you get a company car, your monthly costs will be higher than that, since you pay income tax on a percentage of the purchase value of the car.

Some excuses for owning a car refuted

Of course, it’s entirely up to you whether you drive a car or not. But we see a lot of people who would love to use the car less but feel they can’t. With the counterarguments below, we challenge you to rethink this.

  • I have children. Maybe the best thing you can do for your children is biking. The less cars, the safer the roads. Also, an electric cargo bike is more fun for you kids and often not much slower, also in rural areas. Really need a car? Borrow one or take the taxi.
  • I feel safer in a car. Unfortunately, of all fatal collisions, the most type of common collision is between a car and a non-vehicle object, followed by cars and pedestrians, followed by cars with cars.
  • It’s convenient. It is. We can’t counter this argument.
  • It gives me a sense of freedom. Give the (e-)bike a try. Also, a non-privately owned cars gives you a sense of freedom too.
  • It saves time. The ‘law of constant travel time’ proves our average time spent on transport remains stable. Even though our transport modes become faster, Our ‘time budget for travel’ stays stable at around one hour per day.

It’s obvious. We think the bike is one of the greatest inventions of all time. And we don’t just say that because hello energy is based in The Netherlands. But it surely plays a role…

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