Friday, April 20 , 2018, 8:11 pm | Fair 59º


Erik Wright: Improve Your Community from the Seat of Your Bike

Take these five steps to help the environment, save money — and enjoy the view

» 1. Learn about your community from a different perspective.

Cruise the streets on two wheels. From the seat of a bike, you can smell the jasmine adorning front porches, wave to people out for a stroll, get to know your neighbors and go to places your car won’t fit. Santa Barbara has a wonderful foundation of bike paths, and more are emerging as two-wheeled transportation gains in popularity. Your car won’t get you to some of the most beautiful sights in Santa Barbara, but you can get there by bike.

Consider riding along East Beach on the bike path or out toward the Ellwood bluffs. Biking lets you travel at an enjoyable pace that allows you to really see and experience your surroundings. Explore Santa Barbara from the seat of your bike, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with what you find.

» 2. Improve the view.

Have you ever visited a favorite spot so early in the morning that you can enjoy it without the interference of traffic? Imagine how nice it would be to have fewer cars on the road.

Traffic congestion is growing in Santa Barbara, and as the spring and summer seasons ramp up, we will surely be seeing a lot more of it. Sealed into the glass and metal framework of your car, you can easily speed right by so much of what makes Santa Barbara special. Leave your auto at home, get on two wheels and treat your senses to the beauty of our city. From the seat of a bike your view will improve, and so will that of the next person.

» 3. Bike for your health and the health of our community.

Riding your bicycle has tremendous health benefits. Riding your bike even a few times a week can speed up your metabolism, increase your balance and is great for your lungs and heart. Plus, exercising has never been so much fun! The only thing bigger than the number of calories you’ll be burning will be the smile on your face.

But riding your bike isn’t only healthy for you, it’s healthy for our community. Consider this: A car dumps about a pound of carbon-dioxide into the air per mile driven. This CO2 gets breathed in by all the men, women and children of Santa Barbara. Clean air is necessary for a healthy lifestyle, and from the seat of a bike, you can help clear it up. If you swap several car trips a week for bike rides, you can make a serious impact that will benefit everyone in the community.

» 4. Save some cash and support the local economy.

For a second, consider the costs that go into driving a car — fuel, maintenance, insurance and parking fees. The overall cost of driving a car has been estimated at about $1 per mile. The more you ride your bike, the more cash you’ll have in your pocket. You can then spend those bucks on a latte from your local barista, head to the farmers market for the best organic strawberries or treat the family to dinner at your favorite local restaurant.

Santa Barbara is home to some of the coolest and most unique merchants on the Central Coast and in Southern California. They’ll all benefit from your bike riding as well. In addition, most merchants in and around Santa Barbara offer free bike parking. Finding a convenient spot to park your vehicle has never been easier.

» 5. Meet other people who care about their community.

Maybe you’ve noticed that more and more bikes are cropping up. Everybody’s riding these days. With a bike and a helmet as the only essential equipment, it’s easy to get out and enjoy all Santa Barbara has to offer. There are a number of fun rides happening all the time. One in particular is SB Bike Moves, a fun social ride that happens every first Thursday. Plus, the month of May is Santa Barbara’s bike month known as Cycle MAYnia. There will tons of activities, volunteer opportunities and ways to get involved with the community. There are hundreds of folks dedicated to helping make Santa Barbara a more bike-friendly town, and you can join the ranks.

These five easy steps can help you improve your overall health and well-being along with Santa Barbara’s health and well-being.

Need extra help and encouragement to get started? Click here to check out the WheelHouse Web site, click here for the Santa Barbara Bike Coalition or click here for Bici Centro.

— Erik Wright is a co-owner of WheelHouse, 528 Anacapa St. in Santa Barbara.

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