InTrans / Sep 10, 2013

Bike to freedom!

Go! Magazine


posted on September 10, 2013

Maybe you don’t have your driver’s license or, almost worse yet, you do have your license but you don’t have a car to go along with it. Well, I have a solution for you: the bicycle! I can sense some rolled eyes and exasperated sighs at the suggestion of viewing a bike to be equally as freeing as a car. There aren’t even any cup holders on a bike! But hear me out. Bikes are becoming an increasingly viable means of transportation, thanks to research efforts by transportation professionals across the United States and around the world. Here’s some bicycle news that might inspire you to ditch the engine and pump the pedal.

  1. Traffic jams are for wimps. The freedom of driving a car is significantly lessened when stuck in the midst of a massive traffic jam. But this is no problem for the proficient bicyclist. On your two wheels, you can breeze past those other four-wheelers, arriving at your destination on time and stress-free.
  2. Tires that glow in the dark. Researchers have invented LED lights that attach to bike tires, illuminating the dark road ahead for riders and alerting drivers to the presence of bicyclists. Appearing like a pair of parenthesis, these arc-shaped lights blink with each tire rotation.
  3. My bike is your bike. Bike sharing programs have successfully swept through Europe and are now invading the United States. In places that participate in bike sharing, racks of bikes are located at strategic intervals throughout the city. For only a few dollars, patrons can rent the bike for the day and drop it off at any other bike sharing station in the city whenever they are done. In Denver, Colorado, 43 percent of citizens say that they reduced their driving significantly after bike sharing “rode” into their city.
  4. Everyone else is doing it. Don’t think that if you trade in your car keys for a helmet you are alone. The San Francisco Bay Area in California boasts of its 17th Annual “Bike to Work Day,” which took place May 9th this year. Recognizing that “more than one million Bay Area residents live within five miles of their workplace,”? this event was organized to encourage thousands of citizens to jump on the bicycle bandwagon.
  5. Biking for your brain. Researchers have been testing how before-school bike rides affect the mental performance of students with ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactive disorder. Exercise stimulates electrical impulses in the brain, and researchers are testing those impulses before and after middle school students go for a bike ride, believing that the exercise will boost the brain functioning.
  6. “Weird and wacky” bikes are becoming the norm. Bikes never have to be boring. Check out the circular bike, the bike with square wheels, the bike you can ride sideways, and the bike on which you can have a conference with all your friends while riding.

Transportation professionals are currently solving bicycling queries in order to make the current system more amenable to the pedalling lifestyle. PhD student at the University of Missouri Ginger Rossy is trying to create a simulation model that will tell city planners when they need to create a bike lane. Graduate student Suyun Ma at the University of Iowa is trying to determine what kind of city and residential environments best facilitate bike usage. Another current study featured in the Science Daily focuses on creating new bicycling guidelines to increase ridership in the United States, which could result in healthier, happier Americans.

The only thing left now is for you to ride a new wave of transportation freedom that will allow you to come and go as you please while boosting your brain and keeping you fit.

By Kelly Mantick, Go! Staff Writer

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