Graduation Gift

Biking Accessories

I could use some help. My older brother is graduating in May with his degree in biology. He’s been a pretty flawless student throughout college, which paid off, since he was accepted into a bioinformatics program at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Our whole family is incredibly proud of him, especially our grandma and grandpa. My dad called me yesterday asking for ideas that would help my parents decide on a graduation gift. I wasn’t expected them to ask for my advice. In fact, when my dad called, I had to confess that I thought they already decided on a gift. We brainstormed together and eventually agreed that a bike might be a good idea. My dad asked me to do a little research into biking in Vancouver and whether it’s a practical gift. I need some guidance on that.

Using a bicycle as a primary mode of transportation is almost always a better choice than the more conventional route of car ownership, which is exorbitant by comparison and also further promotes inactivity in what’s already becoming an increasingly sedentary society. Researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have linked increased health risks to this changed behavior. As usual, they recommend that people do anything they can to avoid prolonged inactivity--ideally, regular physical exercise. Daily commutes riding a bike certainly makes that goal easier to achieve.

Lifestyle arguments aside, there’s also the practicality of the setting. Fortunately, Vancouver is known for being a bicyclist and pedestrian-friendly city. Vancouver has already made leaps and strides when it comes to investing in green and sustainable public infrastructure. The municipal investments have materialized in a flourishing network of dedicated sidewalks, bike paths, protected intersections, etc. A new bike would let your brother easily exploit this reality. That being said, you should also have him learn the fundamentals of urban cycling. Author Andrew Small at CityLab published the definitive rules of the road for urban cyclists. That’s a great place to begin.

From a big picture perspective, you can also expect your brother to want to explore his surroundings beyond the distance accessible by walking alone. The city proper is about 44 square miles, which means a bike can make a real difference in terms of range. Conventional wisdom might have him considering a car, which is exceedingly costly for someone preoccupied with academic studies instead of working full-time. He would also have to pass a driving exam and successfully earn his Canadian license from a local DMV. Those combined factors are likely to dissuade any grad student.

It’s also worthwhile noting that Vancouver has very few recorded road-related fatalities and injuries thanks to a relatively friendly road culture. Editors at the Vancouver Sun have long discussed the relative risks associated with walking, biking, and driving and essentially concluded that the pros outweigh the cons. In a worst-case scenario, your brother might need a hospital visit and a personal injury lawyer in Vancouver. This is especially important for incidents between a bicyclist and motorist, since rules of the road are always involved. Compound that with the fact that your American brother is unlikely to know the nuances of Canadian laws.

The list of pros could go on but these are some strong talking points. Ultimately, a bike is probably a safe bet as a gift unless your brother is inherently averse to the activity.

“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.” -- John F. Kennedy

Content Provided By Scholarship Media

UTA Radio on Facebook

Twitter Feed

UTA News