Feb 092011
Authors: Joe Vajgrt

A few weeks ago, the Collegian printed a guest column defending CSU’s reputation as the “green university.” In that article, the author claimed that the college with the highest percentage of students who use alternative measures of transportation to get to classes everyday is our very own CSU. This is something we should truly be proud of ourselves for.

Maybe it speaks more to the intensely irritating parking situation on campus than our selfless, altruistic desires to reduce emissions. Still, it makes me smile when I see students braving the elements and riding their bikes to class in these abrasively cold winter months.

We’re extremely fortunate to live in a community so conducive to being able to rely on alternative transportation as a primary means of getting where we need to be. With dedicated bike paths that get plowed by the city and roadside bike lanes, community members are left with little excuse not to ride.

Last semester, it was my goal to take advantage of Fort Collins’ bike-friendly streets by driving to and from campus, my apartment and work as little as possible. As a bit of an experiment, I decided to keep track of all the miles I biked during the semester using a bike computer. I also used a heart rate monitor to keep track of all the calories that I burned in the process of my new endeavor.

In just 16 weeks last semester, I biked to and from school a total of 94 times while also making the trip to my job a total of 86 times. All in all, I ended up riding 1,197 miles and burning almost 67,000 calories. In case you’re wondering, that’s the caloric equivalent of more than 19 pounds of fat.

I also saved hundreds of dollars in the process by not having to buy a parking permit or spend the $124 it would have cost to purchase the 48 gallons of gas I would have consumed by opting to drive instead.

Since I could ride right up to whatever building I had class in, I discovered that, ironically, it’s faster for me to bike the three and a half miles to campus than it is to drive, find a place to park, and walk to class.

Not only that, but in getting almost 78 hours worth of cardiovascular exercise, I simultaneously prevented about 950 pounds of CO2 from entering the earth’s atmosphere. Not bad, eh?

The extra exercise you’d get from biking will make you look better, feel better, and could actually help you improve your grades. According to a report by the Franklin Institute’s Resources for Science Learning, those who increase their levels of physical activity show, “significant improvements in the higher mental processes of memory and in ‘executive functions’ that involve planning, organization, and the ability to mentally juggle different intellectual tasks at the same time.”

I’m guessing that many of you made New Year’s resolutions to improve your health or do better in school this year. If someone told you that you could save hundreds of dollars, lose some extra weight, do better in school, and prevent a pretty hefty amount of carbon emissions, wouldn’t it be a no-brainer?

I know it seems pretty intimidating to picture yourself riding when it’s so oppressively cold outside. I can assure you, it’s not that bad.

A friend of mine has a saying that I love: “There’s no such thing as bad biking weather, only bad biking clothes.”

In no way is it my intention to be “bikier than thou” by writing this column. It’s simply my hope that someone could get inspired to make some small, incremental changes in their lifestyle that could potentially have a tremendous impact on their individual health and the overall health of our environment.

Joe Vajgrt is a junior veggie-fueled eco-friendly tree-huggin’ freak studying journalism. His column appears on Thursdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 4:16 pm

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