Riding a Bike is Good for you and for Toronto

Why Cycling Matters ~ A recent blog post for Featherstone Two Wheels Green Delivery Service

‘Cycling is enjoyable, efficient, affordable, healthy, sociable, and quiet, plus it’s a non-polluting form of transportation.’

– Ontario Bike Plan 2008

Cycling isn’t a ‘cure-all’ for the ills of modern urban living, but as it relates to the following litany of big city challenges, it’s clear that cycling certainly the situation.

Climate Change

Antarctic Ice Cores showing CO2 levels

CO2 levels taken from Antarctic ice cores, dating back some 2000 years.  Big increases since the Industrial Revolution.

With levels of CO2 increasing at an alarming rate (my last look at the Mauna Loa, CO2 monitoring station data, showing over 400pm) the Earth is heading towards the dangerous territory of 3C average planet temperature rise.  A level that is largely determined by CO2 in our atmosphere.  A 3C increase in average global temperatures, makes living on this planet a precarious situation for human beings.  Operation of a bicycle comtributes only a tiny amount of CO2 to the atmosphere, compared to a conventional IC (Internal Combustion) automobile.


This form of air pollution is usually seen as a ‘haze’ over the city on warm, hot days.  It’s a portmanteau of the words, smoke and fog SMOG.Typically it’s a combination of low level ozone and particulate matter (mostly black carbon) from diesel exhaust.  It has a wide range of negative health effects on humans.  Moving goods and people by bicycle does not contribute to smog


A congested Toronto

A congested Toronto means lost productivity and poor health

According to a 2009 OECD report, traffic congestion in Toronto alone, is estimated to cost Canada $3.3B dollars annually and that’s just one city.  While bicycles can never hope to replace 40ft trailers delivering goods around the city, bicycles can help reduce congestion if people used them for short trips in and around their neighbourhood.  Local deliveries by bicycle couriers and bicycle delivery services can often be much quicker and cheaper than gas-powered vehicles!

Health Care

According to Stats Canada 1 in 4 people in Canada is obese.  Obesity, for the purpose of our discussion can best be described as a condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to such an extent that a person’s health may be adversely affected.  That’s 9M people in Canada who are putting their health at risk – largely through inactivity. Cycling, when undertaken with the oversight of a doctor or medical professional, can go a long way to helping people lose weight and improve their health … and it’s fun!



Car ownership is a money pit

Did you know, according to the CAA Driving Costs Calculator, that to own and operate a new (mini) car in Ontario will cost you about $8.6K annually?  Light trucks and larger cars cost even more!  That includes, insurance, fuel, maintenance, parking, licensing fees, depreciation, etc.  In comparison, a bicycle costs about $150.  Some smart urbanites have discovered car sharing through companies like Car to Go, Zip Car and AutoShare. This gives them access to a car, but only on demand and the costs are shared by many people and when they don’t need a car, they turn to their bicycles for local transportation.

Transportation Effeciency

Did you know that the average Canadian takes something in the area of 2,000 trips in a car every year for distances of less than 3km?  According to Environment Canada  bicycle trips for distances of 5km or less are actually faster and far more effecient than any other form of transportation – and that includes buses and subways.


When you add up all these benefits, it’s clear that when Toronto bikes, we all benefit.  The benefits that accrue to the individual are even greater than the benefits to society.  So, go ahead and be selfish.  You’ll benefit and you’ll even help Toronto benefit.


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