19 April 2011

Feb 2011: Buying a Bicycle - hurray!!

Somewhere about when I was pregnant with Eva my old bike died. While Eva was too small to be on a bike, one bicycle in the household was enough, as only one adult could go riding at a time anyway. Finally her head got big enough for a helmet (the main limiting factor) and we purchsed a kids bike seat - but once it was fitted, I couldn't get on the bike! My short legs wouldn't make it over the bar and Eva was perched on behind. So, if Eva and I wanted to go riding, I needed my own bike. 

I was offered a perfectly good old bike but I confess, something in me was doing a foot-stomping tantrum of 'I want my own real new bike because I've NEVER HAD A NEW BIKE BEFORE!!!' so we bought me a brand new bicycle.
While talking with the bicycle selling man about options, I asked him which bicycle companies either used recycled materials or committed to taking bikes back once their owners are finished with them. He looked at me as if I was asking if any bicycles were built out of moon rock. 'Nup. Nah. Nope. Been in the business twenty years and never heard of anyone doing it'. I asked for the company address of the brand of bicycle I purchased, so I could write to them and request they recycle, and asked him please to make the request to the rep when they were next in. 

I haven't written. (Its late April and I'm only just getting to blogging this!) I'm pretty confident he hasn't spoken to the rep either. I am just hopeful that others might also start to ask and retailers and producers might have to start thinking about the non-renewable materials used in what they make and sell. 

I am trying to maintain a commitment not to drive anywhere that I could ride in under ten minutes. Its a small start. 

Initial Time:  About half an hour in the bike shop.

Initial Cost: Around $500 (Although if I'd accepted the one from my parents-in-law it could have been zero)

Ongoing time or cost commitment: Riding a bike is a cost saving. (One year when the accountant asked if I had any work-related travel expenses like petrol or car repairs, all I could find was a receipt for $9.90 for bike part). It is a time commitment if I am riding anywhere more than a couple of kilometres, but for short local trips its takes about the same amount of time to ride as to drive. For example, its (about) a five minute drive to playgroup, or an eight minute ride. 

The ongoing commitment is about me remembering to ride instead of jumping in the car, and finding solutions for things like carrying the nappy bag or bringing home shopping. The nappy bag and library books I have sussed; shopping beyond one or two items is still too much for me. Also I sometimes struggle to choose the bike when it is very hot or might rain. Although in Perth it has barely rained in months, so I actually can't recall the feeling of not doing something in case it might rain...

Impact: I am fitter! As most of my cycling is for short trips my estimate is that I am taking 2-3kg of carbon dioxide out of the air each time by not driving (based on this calculator). 

When I went searching for a comparison of carbon footprints from bikes or cars, I was fascinated to find that while some sites (like the calcualtor one) assess a bicycle as a zero carbon footprint, others take into account the manufacturing and transport of the bicycle and, most interestingly, the carbon footprint of the food eaten to generate the energy for riding the bike. This site uses the measure of 50 kalories per mile and looks at different diets! There is also the consideration that taking your car off the road not only gets rid of its own emissions but reduces congestion and therefore allows the cars that continue driving to run more efficiently.