Travel in a sustainable world


photo by Chris Keam
I was going to enter this piece to the Whistler Ted x contest, but miss the dead line.

“It is so do-able, I know that we could do it”. This is how I pitch the idea to my wife every year to convince her that we should buy another tandem bike and ride to Hornby Island for our yearly vacation. Her response is “ just for the record I am not riding a tandem with you to Hornby”.

My wife is a hard sell on the bikeride to Hornby with the kids. My response to her total refusal to even consider the idea is to make the economic argument. It goes something like this: “We have to rent a van for a week and this will set us back about $600 plus gas and this is half the price of a good tandem. If we rode our bikes it would be like we were making money because of the savings”.

We live in the West End of Vancouver and my wife has never had a drivers license. We’ve always chosen to live close to her work so she can walk there. For the last two years we have been members of the Car Co-op in Vancouver. After much foot dragging and lots of “we should do this -it totally makes sense” we donated our minivan (read mobile compost heap) to a charity for a tax receipt. Utube of van on tow truck hooks

My pitch has yet to be successful, but it speaks to larger issue of how we can experience the opportunities of the Pacific Northwest in a sustainable way. While it may seem like a wacky idea to ride 120 km with a 10-year old and a 12-year, there is some peer-reviewed evidence that validates my position. Paul Tranter in his ground breaking paper “Too fast, too futile: speed, time pressure and health” makes a compelling arguments that if the time that it takes to make the money to pay for all the cost of a car are factored into the transportation equation and if one factors in the health benefits of active living then travelling by bike is both faster and healthier.effective speed

Another study by health researcher Dr. Donald Redelmeier concludes that for every one hour in a car one loses 20 minutes of one’s life.media story about paper Dr Redelmierier makes this assumption by modeling death rates in car crashes. The study also concludes that reductions in speed also reduces risk of death in car fatalities. A 3 km per hr reduction could save as much as $20 million from property damage each each year.

Wow by riding my bike I thought that I was just saving our family some money, but by riding our bikes to Hornby this summer we could be saving countless dollars to all Canadians in saved health care cost. Add that I am not going to be shorting my life by riding a car and I can’t see why we would be riding to Hornby this summer, wish me luck.

One Response to “Travel in a sustainable world”

  1. […] Okay, its a go! Our tandem is all tuned up. We are heading out for our annual bike ride to Hornby Island. I wrote about the process of convincing my wife to do this trip here. […]

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