Editorial; Ride more, drive less

Aug 21st, 2009 | By | Category: Editorials, Opinions

Back to class does not have to mean back to futilely searching for a parking spot everyday.

We have a suggestion; leave the car parked at home or at the dorms and ride a bike instead.

Simple, convenient, and non-polluting, it will not cost you a dime in gas money. Plus, you can tone those leg muscles.

Almost half of the trips people make in a city like Springfield are three miles or less, so why not ride a bike instead of driving a car?

Bicycles are not just for little kids or skinny men in spandex suits Riding a bike can be fun, yes, but it is also an extremely effective way of getting where you need to go.sign

Live a mile or two from campus and heading to class? Forget fighting for parking; ride a bike.

Going downtown for a good time with some friends? Forget about getting a ticket for accidentally parking in a poorly-labeled bus zone and ride a bike.

MSU is ideally located close to the urban center.

Bicyclists enjoy the many bike routes Springfield offers. Also, the local streets are wide enough to accommodate cyclists and drivers.

Uncomfortable riding in heavy traffic? Scope out the side streets instead.

On that note, riders should be aware of the correct way to ride in and with traffic, for their own safety.

Dr. Andrew Cline, journalism professor at Missouri State, also writes Carbon Trace, a blog about cycling in Springfield.

Two things people should know, he says, is that first, riding a bike for basic transport is easy. Second, you belong on the road.

This may seem confusing, because most people learn to ride a bike during their childhood. Riding into traffic is something parents generally frown on.

As Dr. Cline points out, when you come to college, you are an adult, and cycling is a perfect example of a way to embrace adulthood by riding like an adult.

People riding bicycles have all the same rights and responsibilities as people driving cars.

What does this mean? Riders should have a “car mentality,” meaning you may not be a car, you may not look like a car, but you should act like a car.

This may seem intimidating, but studies also show that cyclists who ride in the street and follow the same traffic rules as drivers (not running red lights, yielding, etc) are far less likely to get in an accident.

Dealing with cars is not as challenging as it may seem. On a bike, riders are able to be more aware of their surroundings and can react to dangers better than a driver cocooned in a car.

While cyclists should be responsible, they should also be alert and ready to respond to the mistakes of drivers.

Some people may have the misconception they need a good bike to start riding full time. Dr. Cline says any bike will do, and “as long as it’s in good repair, cheap bikes are fine.”

Students can find inexpensive bikes at yard sales, thrift stores, and on Craigslist.

Local bike shops like Queen City Cycles, located downtown, can easily provide a tune up that will run you a fraction of the cost of any routine maintenance on a car.

Dr. Cline expects Springfield to be recognized as a “Bicycle Friendly City” by the League of American Bicyclists. This means that the civic government uses methods to encourage and support people who use bikes as transportation.

Using a bike as a way to get around town instead of the car will keep you in shape. As Dr. Cline points out, even the light aerobic exercise of pedaling without busting out high speeds on a bike burns a fair amount of calories.

Second, cycling produces no air pollution (well, except for that foul smell of sweat after a long ride).

More people on the road means more attention towards the needs of cyclists. The most obvious reason to ride is simple; it’s extremely cheap.

A good guide to getting started bicycling instead of driving is Drive Less, Live More, an informational booklet produced by the Sustainable Transportation Committee of the Ozarks.

You can download it as a PDF at Dr. Cline’s blog Carbon Trace, located at http://isocrates.us/bike/. It features a Rules of the Road section, a handy map featuring all the bike lanes and routes in Springfield, and many basics on safety and reasons why cycling is a good idea.

It is a great way to learn how to ride like an adult, ditch the car, and hit the street on a bike.

Remember, cycling can be a great way to get around, whether it’s going somewhere to pick up groceries or heading out for a good time. College is about growing up, and trying new ideas and different habits.

We encourage all Missouri State students to dust of their bicycles and get out and ride.

-Nate Bassett

For the Editorial Board

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  1. This is a great article. Thank you for opening a new door to going green, and helping the environment as well. Bikes can get you places very quickly, and allow you to takes routes, or short cuts that are unattainable to other motor vehicles. I personally love electric bikes that can travel up to 20 mph. You should really check them out; fun, quick, inexpensive to run. You will love getting on the going green train, and leaving a smaller carbon foot print!

  2. Check out drivelesslivemore.org for a similar behavioral change campaign for some interesting encouragement programs and events regarding Driving Less and Living More.