Opinions : Globally Speaking: Cars and bicycles

There are some things in my life that I am really over-protective of, including my family, my friends, my heritage … aaaannnnnd my car. I love my car. A lot.

Published November 8, 2007 by Chips.Luther.edu 

There are some things in my life that I am really over-protective of, including my family, my friends, my heritage … aaaannnnnd my car. I love my car. A lot. I bought it myself and I pay for the insurance, any work that has to be done on it and for gas. My car is like a part of me. That’s a little pathetic, I know. But if you have ever had to work really hard for something, you should know what I mean.

I realized, though, as I was driving the other day, how dependant I have become on my car. While I was in Germany earlier this year, I went without driving a car for over six months, and believe it or not, I survived.

In fact, I was better than fine. For six months, I was the owner of the sweetest bicycle I have ever had (a Peugeot racing bike) and I loved it. I loved not having to worry about buying gas, flat tires or idiot drivers (although there were some scary situations with drunk cyclists).

I became best friends with the Deutsche Bahn, Germany’s No. 1 public transportation system. Not only was it a whole lot cheaper than buying a car, it was also a lot faster than sitting on the Autobahn for hours, stuck in a traffic jam. Plus, you get to meet some pretty sweet people, especially when you ride to your grandma’s sharing a compartment with a completely wasted Handball team. And lastly, let’s not forget that I was being environmentally friendly. It was a win-win situation.

What’s sad though, is that ever since I have been back, I find myself making excuses to take my car instead of using my perfectly good legs. I took my bike from home to school, and I use it almost every day, yet I always find some sort of lame reason to take my car anyway. That has led to a whole lot more money going to gas, new tires, a new battery and a ridiculously high car insurance charge.

But before switching to Geico, I think I’ll just use my bike a little more.

Maybe that’s something we all should do. According to a recent poll from Autoextra.com, three out of four driving-age teens own their own cars. You have to ask yourself if that’s really necessary. I know, especially in high school, having a car is a status symbol, but let’s be honest, I don’t think we need to look at statistics to know this is neither the safest nor the cheapest option. The driving age is 18 in Germany, and even then most people our age don’t own cars. But they do own bikes or passes to use the public transportation system. Looking at other parts of the world makes you realize that maybe we don’t really need the things we think we need after all.

Granted, especially here in Decorah, Iowa, we don’t have the opportunity to use a public transportation system because, well, there isn’t one. But there are things you can do.

Walk with your friends to class. If you’re too busy to hang out with them outside of class, you can catch up with them then. Rollerblade, but not down High Street. Take my word, it’s not worth the ride on the bad decision train. Ride your bike. Decorah has a ton of awesome trails and plenty of avid bike riders. Do something that’s good for you and for the environment. Geico will never have to know.

Christin Mechler