Driving Vs Cycling
There are a whole range of issues surrounding the use of both the bicycle and the car. It will be difficult for me to remain objective throughout however, as I have been a strong advocate of the bicycle now for almost a decade. I first started cycling on a daily basis to commute to work, back in 2009 when I first arrived in Seville. In those days I had to cycle from Calle Fernando IV, in Los Remedios to Pablo Olavide University twice a day, not to mention all the other company classes I was teaching on Calle Torneo or the Alcampo on Calle Taiwan or even at the renewable energy company Abengoa on the outskirts of town. On average I must have cycled around 100 km a day.
Seville has an extensive network of bike lanes both in the centre and the outskirts; in addition to this it is flat, with good weather all year round, making it one of the most ideal cities for cyclists in Europe. Its only downfall is that in the summer, which lasts up to 7 months, the temperatures can reach a staggering, scorching 45 degrees (35 degrees on a cool day), add to this, the fact that there is no sea breeze, as it is an inland city and you could pretty much suffer from a whole range of health issues such as dehydration, heat stroke, sunburn etc… Of course, on the other hand, this can be overcome by always carrying a litre bottle of water on your bike and wearing both a hat and plenty of sun cream. In any case though, be prepared to sweat……a lot! So a change of clothes are in order.
Cycling in Valencia however, in my opinion is much better. There is also an extensive network of bike lanes but, moreover you have the Turia park with its 10 km of greenery, leading you all the way to the beach. From a strategic point of view, it is painfully obvious why the Romans decided to settle down here.
As with Seville, you also have a public bike service “Sevibici” in the case of Seville and “Valenbici” here. Although in Seville I had my own personal bike (two were stolen and one I gave away) I used this service in Valencia for two years, before buying my own foldable bike this time.
Allow me to take a short cut by listing some of the advantages of cycling in a city:
- Daily exercise keeps you healthy and in shape
- It is more social than hiding in your tin box (car)
- It is much easier to park, you can even ride right up to the door of the building
- You can get on public transport during rainy days or for longer distances (especially if it is a foldable bike)
- You can join social clubs for cyclists and meet up in the park
- You can have great fun riding a tandem bike with your partner or friend
- It is much cheaper than owning a car as you don’t have to pay your M.O.T or road tax, maintenance, petrol, parking fines, speeding fines etc…
- You are “adding your grain of salt”, however small in helping the fight against air pollution and illegal wars (obviously not eliminating all pollution but at least helping to reduce it where possible)
- You take up much less space on the pavement when you park, unlike the infinite rows of cars you see blocking the pavements
- Bikes are a sustainable form of transport, unlike the car
- The world uses up to 85 million barrels a day of oil, in Spain this figure is around 1,384,000 barrels per day, France 1,792,000, England 1,217,000 and so on and so forth. I think you get the picture 😉
- The car creates noise pollution, in addition to air pollution, making it difficult to sleep or relax in those appartments which are closer to a road.
- Cars are comfortable, as you don’t get wet on a rainy day.
- Cars are more convenient for picking up friends (rarely the case for most drivers) or carrying luggage
- Cars create jobs within the petrol and car industry
- More cars means more roads both in the city and the countryside
- The more money is invested in the car industry, the less demand there is for public transport
- Cars contribute towards a sedentary lifestyle, which leads to heart disease, obesity and other sedentary related illnesses.
As you can see and as I mentioned from the start, my essay/report is biased, leaning heavily in favour of bicycles. Nevertheless, let me point out that there is a place in society for cars, especially those vehicles which are used for public benefit i.e. ambulances, buses, delivery trucks and taxis. It is the use of private cars in my humble opinion which lead to toxic environments.
But it’s not too late to swap four wheels for two!
So why not nip along to your nearest bicycle shop and put a smile on the shop assistant’s face as you ride out on your shiny new pedal powered wheels.