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As I sit in my 03 Honda Civic gazing at the red tail lights of an FJ Cruiser in front of me, waiting for them to turn off so I can roll up a few more inches and someday get to my English 1B class, my eyes look over to the local gas station.Â I notice a man swapping the price numbers of the gasoline costs on the Shell station's sign.Â Depressingly, down went both sevens in $2.77, and up went two nines. I thought to myself "Are you kidding me three buck for a measly gallon of 87-gas."Â I reached for my wallet to see how much money I had on me.Â Thirty bucks is supposed to support me for the week, and my tank was an inch away from that ever-imminent 'E'.Â "I don't know how this week is going workout." I told to myself. Out of the blue a posse of college student bicyclist maneuvered passed the traffic jam that I was stuck in.
If you have noticed lately, many college students are getting around and to campus by bike. Why would they lower their form of transportation to a thin piece of metal on two wheels instead of a luxurious comfortable Lexus or Range Rover Sport? After doing some extensive research, qualitative interviews and observation I feel that I can explain why students across the United States have turned to bicycling as a form of transportation rather than driving. The key causes to this wide spread of bikers seems to be the uncontrollable rise of college tuition which thus buts students in a tight budget, gas prices, traffic and the need to live healthy lifestyles.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Traffic congested cities like Los Angeles or Baton Rouge who is home to many college students, are suffering after the fifty percent Â increase in population as a result of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. This increase in population has resulted in a 35% increase in the number of cars that are on the street, 10% increase in the school system and most importantly skyrocketing gas prices, making commuting for Louisiana State University (LSU) students a costly undertaking (Tanneeru).Â The twenty minute drive to and from school is now a long forty minutes, and those extra twenty minutes driving just tells you that it costs that much more to drive your car. For those living off campus, they must take into consideration that driving to school every day may not be worth it anymore. Students who live in busy cities like Los Angeles or Baton Rouge who use to drive to school have possibly switched from driving to biking because of the time consumption behind the wheel. In an interview with Ana Mora, a student at the University of California Riverside (UCR), she mentioned that "â€¦biking around here seems to be a lot faster than driving." She went onto share an experience when her friend and she had left their residence to go to UCR though using different forms of transportation. "My friend Alexis was driving her Lexus IS350, and I was riding my 1972 Schwinn Continental that I bought on craigslist for 150 bucks. It was in the middle of rush hour with bumper to bumper traffic most of the way. In the bike lane, however, I sailed past at my normally speed. My friend Alexis caught up with me about 10 minutes later." She chuckled. This goes to show that many students like Ana who live near campus and have dealt with the traffic may have turned to biking to not only beat the traffic but to get to their destinations a lot faster and keep money in their pockets.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â If it could be only one thing that all college students can relate to, it would have to be their tight budgets.Â Most of the students attending college must pay for their own college fees and living expenses on their own, not to mention other fees and supplies for those who chose to live off campus.Â Those who are being supported by their parent(s) or family still are not living a life of leisure.Â Though they may have a bit more freedom with it comes to buying merchandise, the fact that you have to pay twice as much for gas then you used to, is a costly undertaking for everyone.Â It used to only cost twenty-five dollars to fill up my four-cylinder 03 Honda Civic car that runs off of 87-gas. Due to the increase in gas pricesÂ it costs me roughly forty dollars to fill her up.Â If the average student fills up their car twice a month that is another thirty or so dollars the commuter spends. The skyrocket of gas prices might be another cause of this widespread of student bikers.
Others beg to differ about the notion that gas prices may be the cause of as to why students are biking because many have or either have the option of buying eco-friendly cars like the Toyota Yaris or Prius which has a mpg of roughly 40 miles per gallon. Though they say this they forget the expenses which come with having a car and better yet in college. One of the costly undertakings when having a car in college is the cost of parking permits. Looking at my own situation I am paying 150 dollars a quarter for a parking permit in a residence hall lot. Many expenses come with having a car, and because of this many students probably have chosen to ride bikes instead of taking on the big responsibility of a car. They have probably unveiled the rich benefits of bike racks. Finding parking is much easier, and makes parking more convenient for others by freeing up a spot you may have taken with a car. Not to mention one does not need to worry about potentially getting a parking ticket if parked in the wrong lot. Many bicycle racks are found to be within "â€¦no more than a 30-second walk (120 feet) from the entrance of a building's entrance" according to the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin website. As you can see many may have chosen to hang up their keys and begin pedaling because of the convenience of bike riding. Also for those who live on campus, biking is obviously a faster way of getting to class than walking, especially when your late or have not had the time to hit up the campus gym for your daily exercise.
Another probable reason why a lot of college students are biking now and days may be because of health reasons. Many students are preoccupied with homework assignments and work and cannot manage to find time to get in their recommended daily exercise. If a student gets his or her exercise regularly by riding their bicycle instead of using gym equipment (weights, stationary bikes, etc.) they can save a great deal of money. Another thing that needs to be taken into account is the steep prices of gym memberships which a lot of students try avoiding. "At UCR students pay sixty dollars per quarter for a gym membership ()." Some may say that this not all that expensive because of all facilities that one can use with having a membership. One must take into account that because of the increase in college tuition and for those who have tight budgets, many are choosing to rack up a bunch of units each quarter because they wish to graduate on time, in the ideal four years. UCR student Alejandra Medina is currently taking a whopping 20 units because she wishes to graduate on time. "I'm too busy with work that going to the gym never crosses my mind, that's why I chose to bike around campus when going to class to at least get some form of exercise in every day." Alejandra said. Students like Alejandra who are jam packed with class, feel that their money is going down the drain when paying for a gym membership because it is never put to good use that is why biking has served as a good alternative for working out.
Like other exercises, I feel students have not only turned to this form of transportation but as an alternative to stay in physical shape. UCR student Carlos Tapia who regularly rides his bike to and forth campus implies that "â€¦cycling is the easiest way to exercise with so many beneficiaries." He also went onto mention that "If it wasn't for this "baby" I'd still be overweight!" Carlos Tapia used to weigh 185 lbs. and has now successfully biked his way down to 162 lbs. In Jerry Travers article "Health Benefits of Cycling" he states that cycling not only increases muscle tone, and strength of one's legs but the whole body. Along with this, those who chose to bike reap the benefits of improving their cardio-vascular fitness which in turn improves heart health, coordination and burns calories because of the involvement of the whole body. (cite this) Some may speculate on the notion that students who are biking now in day do so to stay physically fit and in turn state that many students merely bike because of the trendiness of it, preferably falling into the culture of fixed geared bikes, which are quite flashy. Though to the naked one might speculate that this is the cause of the wide spread of bikers but the benefits of owning a "fixie" Carlos said is that "since it's a single speed bike and weighs roughly 15 lbs. one gets to their destination a lot faster, making traffic a thing of the past." Students' choice of bicycling not only benefits them physically but promotes healthy lifestyles and going green.
The signs of global warming are becoming more noticeable in the world and more and more people are noticing the effect people have on mother earth especially college students. As a result of this prevalent issue, students have searched for eco-friendly ways of getting around daily and many may have decided to carry out "green" lifestyles by turning to biking. Aaron Ho a student at UCR suggested that people turn to biking because it is the most environmentally-friendly method of transportation." By biking one is not only reducing pollution but the consumption of oil and gas. The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) stated that "if everyone who lives within 5 miles of their workplace left their car at home just one day a week and cycled to work, nearly 5 million tons of global warming pollution would be saved every year (EDF)." Along with that, "â€¦bicycling and walking displace as much as 1.6% of carbon dioxide emissions from passenger vehicles (Komanoff)." Many of the environmental problems we have today can be linked back to cars, the key source of pollution.Â In large cities like Los Angeles, the number of vehicles used by people to commute to work every day take a toll on the environment, not to mention the destruction of land to build up parking lots. Students may have figured out that just by reducing the number of cars in the street, a monumental impact could be made to better the environment around them and at the same time keep money in their pockets.
All these possible causes may contribute to the notion of why so many college students are biking now in days. Whether it be the traffic that students want to beat or the tight budget that may be setting them back, one thing is for sure, all students suffrage with money may be the main cause of why they are biking more to an forth college campuses. Though a small percentage of students are living a life of luxury biking is sure to benefit everyone in some way shape or form.
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Travers, Jerry. "Health Benefits of Cycling." Adult Bicycling. Web. 11 Mar. 2011. <http://www.adultbicycling.com/component/content/article/9-bicycling-basics/37-health-benefits-of-cycling-ii.html>.
"Wisconsin Bike Parking." Web. 10 Mar. 2011. <http://www.bfw.org/uploads/media/Bike_Parking.pdf>.
"Bicycle Commuting - Improving Travel Choice - Environmental Defense Fund." Environmental Defense Fund - Finding the Ways That Work. 8 May 2007. Web. 11 Mar. 2011. <http://www.edf.org/article.cfm?contentID=5483>.
KOMANOFF, C., C. Roelofs, J. Orcutt, and B. Ketcham. "ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS OF BICYCLING AND WALKING IN THE UNITED STATES - Publications Index." Home - Publications Index. 1993. Web. 14 Mar. 2011. <http://pubsindex.trb.org/view.aspx?id=384447>.
Tanneeru, Manav. "CNN.com - Baton Rouge Swells with Evacuees - Sep 9, 2005." CNN.com - Breaking News, U.S., World, Weather, Entertainment & Video News. 9 Sept. 2005. Web. 11 Mar. 2011. <http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/09/09/baton.rouge.impact/>.