With carbon dioxide recently reaching a milestone not seen in millions of years, you might be looking for ways to reduce your so called “carbon footprint.” But don’t trade in your old car for a hybrid—it would be better to bike two days a week instead.
I’m going to jump right in with the arithmetic, but don’t worry, I’ll walk you through it. Say your commute is 10 miles round-trip, and your car gets a reasonable 30 miles per gallon. Drive your car to work three days each week (30 miles) and use one gallon of gas. Bike on the other two days (another 20 miles) without using any gas at all. You've just gone 50 miles on only one gallon of gas for an effective rating of 50 miles per gallon. That's better than a Prius. You can calculate your own effective miles-per-gallon rating like this: just multiply your mpg by five, and then divide by the number of days per week you drive to work.
What to do with the money you were going to spend on the hybrid? First, fix your old car so it passes emissions testing and doesn’t end up in a landfill. Then go get a wonderful commuter bike, and cover it with the greatest accessories, like bike horns, USB chargers, cool lights and paniers. An electric bicycle is a great option too, especially if your commute is long or hilly. Pat yourself on the back for a choice that can save you tens of thousands of dollars and saves rare earth elements for use in other green projects.
Your choice to bike can also have some far-reaching effects. Replacing a car with a bicycle reduces congestion significantly, meaning that the people who do drive will idle less in traffic. More bicycles on the road also means more awareness from drivers and greater safety for everyone. By choosing to bike, you may even inspire others to follow. I could go on, but if you are interested, read eight more reasons to bike.
This post is part of the GOOD community's 50 Building Blocks of Citizenship—weekly steps to being an active, engaged global citizen. Try Biking to Work. Follow along and join the conversation at good.is/citizenship and on Twitter at #goodcitizen.