Do what the robots can’t

Opinions_Robot-workers

If robots can replace your job, it’s not the robots’ fault

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. June 8, 2016

Robots are here to make our lives easier, and in the process, they are eliminating a lot of menial work. We see it everywhere from the banking to the food industry, and all areas of retail and trade. These industries employ people all across the globe. The idea of all of these jobs becoming obsolete is a bit concerning since there has yet to be a real replacement.

When a worker is made redundant, replaced by a machine or an algorithm, the situation is met with pessimism. The notion is that if you don’t know how to code, you might as well starve. However, the rise of the automated, robotic workforce is something we have been experiencing since our youth. We grew up with computers and machines, so why is it so shocking when a new system replaces us on the assembly line?

In tech, there is a lot of talk about disruption. Is this software or hardware capable of changing the way we accomplish a task? Can the iPhone change the way we pay our bills? Will streaming services make video rental stores relics? How can virtual reality change the way we shop online? Not only do innovators consider how a product can disrupt an industry, they consider the industries ripe for disruption. They find the problem before the solution.

A controversial disruption at the moment is with driverless cars. The technology is there, but regulations and lobbyists are preventing it from reaching the next phase. The transportation network Uber has openly announced that as soon as driverless cars are available, clients will be able to select that as an option when hailing a ride. Who’s angry with this? Taxi drivers, chauffeurs, transit people, and anybody else that makes a living working in transportation.

Only time will tell if driverless cars will become a fixture in our daily society. But if I was a taxi driver, I’m not going to bank on my driving skills to sustain me for the next 40 years, I’m going to start developing some other set of skills just in case. Learning how to fix cars can be another skill to add on. That’s just a thought.

So often we are pessimistic when it comes to new technology stealing our jobs. But these technologies didn’t sneak up on us. These technologies took years and years of development. They are all over the news and they gave us every opportunity to be more relevant. Like a rival, it is pushing us to improve. You cannot and should not fight against it, as it has been shown all through history, humans will veer to the side of convenience, profitability, and security.

Turn the lens onto yourself and ask: “How will a robot disrupt my career?” Then, either build that robot, or be better than it. The question is not how robots can replace you, but how can you replace the robots when they come? I’m confident that you will figure it out.

Everything You Need to Know About Car Tires

Posted by  | October 29, 2014 |
Originally published on Unhaggle.com
Everything You Need to Know About Car TiresThere is a wide range of car tires out in the market that drivers often don’t even know about. Depending on the driver’s lifestyle, road conditions and weather, car tires can change the whole driving experience. Performance tires can give you more control; off-road tires can offer more confidence on rough terrains; and low profile tires look sleek and handle better.

While some drivers choose to stick with all-season tires for the majority of the year and swap over to snow or winter tires for a few months, there are many other options to consider. The same way we have different shoes for different occasions, our BMW 328i should also be able to slip into something more comfortable, enabling it to perform at its safest and best.

Performance Tires

Before engines and suspensions, consider getting performance tires if you want to go faster and get better handling around corners. The rubber found in performance tires has stiffer sidewalls and a softer composition, which allows drivers to respond to the road better – be it stopping with ease or turning with precision.

Although performance tires will undoubtedly enhance your ride, they do wear out faster because of their low tread. Therefore, those tires are often recommended for high-end sports cars and sports sedans. However, there are several types of performance tires to note: Tires rated S or T are often categorized as performance tires just by their appearance and are generally designed for passenger cars and minivans; tires rated H or V are called performance touring tires and have the best all-season capability; and finally, there are the ultra-high performance sport tires, which are rated W, Y or Z, which are designed to enhance handling.

Because of the nature of performance tires, drivers would often own different sets, depending on the driving scenario.

Truck Tires

Vehicles with large inventories and cargo towing responsibilities will require truck tires for better comfort and handling. Generally speaking, these vehicles are used to transport goods across long distances, which makes coping with highways easier. Truck tires are built to boost traction and diminish potential hydroplaning on slippery roads.

Although truck tires can handle many terrains, they do have some characteristics that separate them from off road and all-terrain tires. Most notably, truck tires lack the extra bite and will not grab the rocky, muddy roads as well as their rugged counterparts.

Off-Road Tires

The key attributes of off-road tires are the large treads that grip the road, called lugs, and the deep spaces in-between the lugs that divert wetness on soft and soggy surfaces. Built with a reinforced sidewall and puncture-resistance material, off-road tires are all about traction and endurance and should be fully capable of taking you and your vehicle through the most beaten of paths.

All-Terrain Tires

All-terrain tires combine the open treads and superior traction of off-road tires with the functionality of all-season tires. They enable drivers to operate comfortably on both rocky, muddy roads and clean, smooth highways.

Some minor downsides of driving around in the city with all-terrain tires is that the ride will probably be a lot noisier than with all-season or truck tires. In addition, all-terrain tires are often designed with a softer type of rubber than off-road tires, which ultimately reduces their lifespan. So, it’s worth calculating: If you drive off-road more frequently, then perhaps you might want to consider off-road tires instead of all-terrain, just because of the longevity.

Low-Profile Tires

Low-profile tires refer to the size of the tire’s edge, which means a shorter sidewall height or the amount of rubber between the road and the rim of the wheel. Low-profile tires are attractive because they offer better handling, and their design enables manufacturers to offer bigger brakes.

Although some drivers find low-profile tires to appear more attractive aesthetically, the tire can often be described as stiffer, which causes jarring and agitating rides. Also because of the thinner edge, low-profile tires are more susceptible to deflation overtime.

If a smooth ride is what you are after, low-profile tires might not be your first choice. However, if you have your heart set, you may like to consider upgrading your vehicle in other aspects to accommodate the tires – such as implementing suspension hardware.

All-Season Tires

At last we arrive at all-season tires – the ones we are most familiar with. All-season tires are designed to handle most situations well – not great, but well – and for many drivers that’s fine, since dependability is what most car owners want.

Nevertheless, all-season tires have limitations and may fail to serve your car during snowy days, on gravel roads, and in the course of high-speed chases (not that we condone speeding). Like all things car-related, selecting tires for your vehicle is all about sensibility. Know your car, know your road and know which tires are best for you.

Don’t be a passenger your whole life

Image via Thinkstock

Why driving is a life-long skill worth having

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published by The Other Press. March 16, 2015

Younger generations are no longer putting car ownership as a top priority, and because of that the attitude towards learning to drive or earning a driver’s licence is left idling. Many have even accepted that they will never own a vehicle and that public transit is just something that will be a part of their lives forever. It’s true that owning a car is a big responsibility and learning to drive is a hassle, but while the economy may place a roadblock in our plans, we cannot be ignorant towards a fundamental skill of urban society.

Being able to drive is more than simply having an alternative to walking or taking the bus, being able to drive is being fluent in the rules of the road and having a lifeline for travelling. If you don’t know how to drive you will always be a passenger—always. It doesn’t matter if you are taking a taxi, bus, or if your friends are chauffeuring you around, you are always governed by someone’s driving habits and navigation skills. In a way, you are someone’s luggage.

Having the skills to drive gives you the freedom to travel. If you decide you want to—in a split second—rent a car and visit another city, province, or country, you can. The ability to drive will take you further in life.

You become a more valuable, respectable, and dependable person when you know how to drive. Pedestrians who don’t know the difference between a turn signal lever and a windshield wiper controller have little sympathy toward drivers and behave as though they own the roads. They are blind to what drivers have to deal with on a busy street and seldom give them a benefit of the doubt.

People who have never driven also have weaker navigational skills and direction-giving abilities. Often they will tell the driver to take a turn too late or have no idea where they are because they are not travelling along a bus route. Driving enables people to understand the layout of a city better. Getting lost is not a big deal when you are in a car, unlike if you take the wrong bus.

Not everybody needs a car. In fact, if you have spent time pondering life in rush hour traffic, you would believe that fewer people should actually drive. But that does not change the fact that cars are one of the most valuable technologies of the past century. Traffic is the pulse of a city and we need to help it beat. Knowing how to drive is the ability to see how a city functions. It’s a language we should all understand.

Are Talking Cars a Bad Idea?

Posted by  | October 22, 2014 |
Originally published in Unhaggle.com
Are Talking Cars a Good Idea?

Talking cars have been portrayed in media for generations, but now this fantasy is closer to reality than ever. Of course, I’m not talking about KITT from Knight Rider or Herby the Love Bug (be sure to view our list of top movie cars for more goodies). What I’m referring to is an innovative vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology that enables cars on the road to communicate with one another.

By 2020, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is hoping to have mandated the new automotive communication system in an effort to reduce collisions. Relying on various global-positioning systems, radars and cameras, the new on-board feature will assist drivers by warning them of on-coming traffic, hazardous intersections, complicated left turns and other potential risks.

The question is – are these systems going to be effective?

Pro: Safety and Serviceability

NHTSA believes that this initiative will reduce 592,000 accidents a year, thus saving 1,083 lives. And according to a study conducted by the Government Accountability Office, approximately 76 per cent of crashes that involve two or more vehicles can be reduced with V2V technologies.

In addition, V2V technologies will also supply general traffic information to the driver when they commuting. Through the wireless connectivity to other vehicles, the driver will see which roads are congested in order to avoid them. This type of data will undoubtedly save time and fuel, as well as reduce traffic jams.

If safety and serviceability is the priority, there is no doubt that talking cars will indeed be a good idea.

Con: Privacy

However, there are a few matters to consider regarding talking cars that are causing car owners to think twice before driving off in such an intelligent machine.

The most immediate concern for V2V car buyers is the privacy factor. In a global infrastructure where hackers rule the day, talking cars could become large targets. Once cars become wirelessly linked to each other through cellular networks, hackers will be able to intercept those signals, and from there, drivers can only imagine the worst-case scenario, which may in fact make talking cars more dangerous than your average “mute” cars. With over 100 million lines of code involved in V2V technology, programmers and engineers are staying realistic when constructing firewalls and other security measures to restrict unwanted entries.

The Verdict

Since 2012, the University of Michigan Transportation Safety Research Institute, with 80 per cent of funding from U.S. Department of Transportation, have been undergoing an experiment where approximately 3,000 V2V cars are driving around Ann Arbor, Michigan. The project’s goal is to examine the system in full scale, determine whether traffic rules need altering and understand the safety benefits better. Recently, the organization has announced that they are planning to scale the project, tripling the connected vehicles on the road to 9,000.

By 2016, NHTSA and car manufacturers should be able to have a clearer understanding of what talking cars can do. Then they will be able to relay those findings to drivers to (hopefully) eliminate any form of doubt when it comes to this technology. After all, V2V technology will only function properly if the drivers actually buy into it.

It’s true that talking cars are not solving every problem on the road; in fact, the majority of accidents today only involve a single car, which is not something V2V technology can help prevent. But talking cars are a giant step forward in public safety.

This new automotive communication feature may have its downsides, but it should still be embraced. After all, it will not only make rescuing people in accidents easier, but allow us to avert collisions altogether.

Anti-Theft Devices: Are They Worth the Money?

Posted by  | October 09, 2014 |
Originally Published on Unhaggle.com 
Anti-Theft Devices: Are They Worth the Money?

Anti-theft devices exist in many forms to combat the variety of car thieves out there. From high-tech GPS-based tracking systems to low-tech steering-wheel locking mechanisms, anti-theft devices are car owner’s last line of defence in unfamiliar parkades and dimly-lit streets.

Here are some good news and bad news. Bad news: according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, Canadians spend approximately $1 billion each year due to stolen automobiles. Good news: from 2011 to 2012, 4,500 fewer vehicles were stolen, which adds up to a vehicle theft decrease of 57% in the past decade.

What does this all mean for car owners? It seems that although there is a clear decline in car theft, there is still a lucrative market out there that thrives on stolen car parts, which is why anti-theft devices are still needed. But, are they worth the price and inconvenience?

Here are some pros and cons to help you decide whether your vehicle requires any anti-theft devices:

Pro: Technology Has Improved

Car alarms used to have this spastic siren that both alerts and annoys the user. A gentle bump can be misconstrued as a code-red breach and everyone in the neighbourhood would know about it. That is no longer the case. The latest car alarm innovations include multistage electronics that work with shock sensors to gage whether the nudge was accidental or intentional.

In addition, new inaudible alert applications can be downloaded to car owners’ smartphones. If someone is breaking into your vehicle or a shopping cart crashed into it at the store, you’ll know right away via Push Notification.

Con: Thieves Have Improved As Well

Hoodlums are afraid of car alarms, professional thieves aren’t. Many anti-theft devices are built to stump the amateur, but present little resistance against the experienced.

Alarms alert and immobilizers slow down the thief, but other than that, they really don’t do much. It goes to show that devices are just the most basic form of prevention.

Pro: It Only Needs To Work Once

Although anti-theft devices can cost thousands of dollars, they only need to work once to pay off. If you only have liability coverage with your insurance company, the most you can get is the vehicle’s reimbursed market value if it is not found or cost of repairs if the vehicle is found, but in poor condition and under a certain amount of days.

In a quick comparison, you’ll see that a security device is a cheaper solution than a long-term comprehensive auto insurance plan.

Con: Nothing Beats Common Sense

Often you don’t need security at all, because common sense might do just fine. Some car owners can’t even tell you what anti-theft features are out on the market, because they don’t need to. Instead, they use their best judgement when they park their car.

Car theft is most common in urban areas, and older vehicles are much easier to be broken into and disassembled for parts. By being aware of your surroundings and concealing valuable items within, you are already doing a part in preventing theft.

Pro: Security Features May Lower Your Premium

That said, having additional anti-theft features may qualify your vehicle for a discount when purchasing insurance. Statistically speaking, cars with security features are less likely to be broken into and stolen, so many insurance companies will offer a lower premium for that very reason.

Most Common Anti-Theft Devices

Additional devices for your vehicle may be a costly endeavor, but in my opinion, the pros outweigh the cons, and I believe that it is better to have one than not. What is that old childhood adage? Better safe than sorry.

Here are a few common security features you should consider:

Steering-wheel lock ($25 – $100): Commonly known as clubs, steering-wheel locks are very common and do a decent job immobilizing the vehicle, while also limiting its manoeuvrability. However, it is not foolproof, and professional car thieves will not be foiled by it.

Alarm system ($40 – $1,400): Always useful in getting attention, but not always useful in getting help. If a car alarm doesn’t scare away the thieves immediately, there is little struggle presented after.

Kill switch ($10 – $125): Although some cars don’t allow for a kill switch, it is still an effective system for shutting down the engine, which leaves thieves stranded in a stolen vehicle. In order for the kill switch to work, it must be concealed or the thief might disable it.

GPS-based vehicle tracking system ($500-$1000): Tracking systems don’t exactly stop criminals from stealing your vehicle, but they do offer a 90-per-cent return rate by working with your local law enforcers.

Not a walk in a park(ing lot)

Opinions_Parking Space

The problem with hoarding parking spaces

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. September 30, 2014

Unless you have paid to reserve a spot to park your vehicle, you have no right to block a space on a public road with a lawn chair, a traffic cone, or an empty milk jug.

While some residential street parking requires a visible permit, many others don’t. This can cause unpredictability for those who drive to and from work. Drivers tend to have little patience to seek out an empty spot; so instead, they will just mark one as their own. Parking spaces are a limited commodity, especially in neighbourhoods where homes don’t have driveways, and garages are used as multi-purpose storages and home fitness centres. With each family having an average of two cars, the streets can become crowded, causing people to wrongfully reserve public property.

While homeowners will argue that the property immediately in front of their house belongs to them, that is untrue. The area belongs to the city and that means anyone in the city can use it. Although the “No Parking” sign people buy from dollar stores is forthright, it often ushers a tone of entitlement, instead of asking for others to be considerate. Perhaps—in Canadian fashion—there should be “Please, I had a long day at work and would like to just get home with as little effort as possible” signs available at Dollarama. Alas, there are not. And unless it’s a government-issued sign, it doesn’t have any authority.

Private or reserved street parking in residential areas do not exist in this city. It doesn’t matter what sign or obstruction you have, you cannot claim a space that doesn’t belong to you.

Street parking is completely legal, and if you see someone who has placed objects on the road to assert their territory, throw them in the trash, because that is littering. With that being said, drivers should also know that according to Vancouver’s city bylaws, a vehicle may only be parked in front of a stranger’s house for a maximum of 72 hours, unless signage states otherwise.

I understand that having someone else parked in front of your house feels like a violation of your privacy, but it isn’t. You live in a community with people who have equal rights as you. The same way you don’t have a reserved spot on the bus or SkyTrain when you get on board, you cannot have a reserved parking space on a public street.

Driving is all about sharing the road, but just as important, it should also be about sharing parking spots. So what? Walk a little for once.

Reasons Why Rural and Urban Car Buyers Are So Different

Posted by  | August 28, 2014 |
Originally published on Unhaggle.com 

Reasons Why Rural and Urban Car Buyers Are So Different

Ever wondered why rural dwellers prefer noticeably different cars from their urban counterparts? The cliché is that rural inhabitants prefer trucks and SUVs, while urbanites prefer hatchbacks and sedans. The truth is that rural and urban car buyers live in completely different environments and lead completely different lifestyles, which, of course, means that their automotive needs are completely different as well.

Let’s tell a tale about two car owners: One lives in the congestion of the city, the other lives in the open countryside. One considers their vehicle as an option, the other considers it to be a resource. When a city dweller’s car breaks down, runs out of gas or is parked someplace they can’t remember, they can take a bus, call a cab or get a Car2Go or ZipCar membership. But if someone from the country is without a vehicle, their options for getting around are limited at best – much more limited than you may think.

When you look at the stats presented by Newspaper Canada, the cost for transportation is approximately 12 per cent higher in rural areas, with gasoline and fuel expenditures being  4 per cent higher annually than in heavily-populated urban areas. Automobiles are an integral part of rural living, which means that when someone from the country purchases a vehicle, there are a few factors to consider:

Point A is Further from Point B

On average, a Canadian living in a rural area will travel 33 kilometres more to a supermarket than their city counterpart. In addition, they will travel 54 kilometres more to a car dealership, 37 kilometres more to a local department store and 56 kilometres more to a discount store.

Running errands simply takes more effort and mileage when you are not in an urban area. However, getting stuck in stop-and-go traffic is also less common. So, when every outing is a little road trip, rural car buyers will need to consider a vehicle that has good highway fuel economy and a reliable engine that won’t give up.

Weather Conditions May Apply

When snow falls in the city, ploughs and salt trucks take to the road and clear the path for commuters. When snow falls in the countryside, you can rather wait for rescue or beef up your vehicle so it can take on Mother Nature.

Regardless of where you live in Canada, the unpredictability of weather causes many car owners to consider the performance of their vehicle. People demand their cars to handle rain, snow and storm. Because of this mentality, some drivers choose to rely on trucks, SUVs and other vehicles with four-wheel drives as opposed to sports cars.

Admit it, you’ll probably feel a lot more comfortable driving through a storm in a Ford Explorer than you would in a family sedan.

Rough Roads, Rugged Terrain and Lack of Maintenance

Constructions, repairs and regular maintenance can often drive commuters nuts. However, for rural car buyers, the grass is greener on the other side.

The further the road is from the city core, the less attention it’ll get. Resources are often spread heavily where the population is the most dense. So, oftentimes, a gravel road within a rural neighbourhood will be so low on the priority list that potholes and trenches will form over time, which can cause damages to a vehicle not built for off-roading.

Variety is the Spice of Life and a Lifeline

Due to limited space and expensive parking spots, most household garages and condo underground parking lots in the metropolitan areas can only occupy one to two cars – if they can afford it. But in rural areas, car owners can have a whole line-up of vehicles.

Rural car owners may travel further to get to a car dealership, but they also visit them more frequently. Excluding regular services, 13 per cent of car owners in rural areas will visit a dealership more than three times in a year. Whereas, only 7 per cent of urban car owners will visit it more than three times.

Having several spare cars is not only a luxury for car owners in the country, it is also an insurance knowing that if, say, a truck is not performing appropriately, they can still count on the SUV or the sedan.

Living in a rural area with one vehicle is like having one pair of shoes for every occasion.

Top 10 Worst Cars for Teen Drivers

Posted by  | August 20, 2014 |
Originally published on Unhaggle.
Top 10 Worst Cars for Teen DriversNot every vehicle is a suitable car for a teen or novice driver. Some cars come with a steeper learning curve, more responsive handling and fewer safety features. Those little elements can add up to become a challenging ride for young, inexperienced drivers. So, this is not really about safety only, but the whole package. For information on the most unsafe vehicles currently on the road, be sure to check out our top picks right here.When looking into purchasing the first car for your teenager or yourself, it’s best to choose a vehicle with some familiarity and practicality. Young drivers are prone to distraction and an overwhelming sense of invincibility, so it’s best to keep them humble. Safety is paramount, and some cars are dangerous even for the most seasoned drivers. So, try and steer clear of these death traps or, at least, don’t introduce any young drivers to them.

10. Ford Mustang

Allowing your children to drive the world famous Ford Mustang is like giving them steroids for the road. They’ll love you because it’ll make them look cool, but you might lose them to the dark side forever. The Mustang is a powerful, rear-wheel-drive vehicle that has more power than most can handle. For new drivers who are still learning the rules of the road, it’s best to stay away from a vehicle as defiant as the Mustang.

9. Jeep Wrangler

For many adventurous parents looking for a frugal choice for their outdoorsy children, turning to the Jeep Wrangler may seem reasonable. However, the Wrangler is a notoriously finicky animal when it comes to turns. Prone to flips and barrel rolls when taking corners too quickly, the Wrangler might not be the best choice for young drivers who tend to have heavier feet. Also, it should be mentioned that off-roading should be reserved for more experienced drivers anyway, so if you are considering the Wrangler as a novice, maybe you should reconsider.

8. Any Clunker

Hand-me-downs are a good thing; they breeds tradition, save money and teach modesty. Nevertheless, parents should avoid giving their teenage drivers their old, clunky cars. “Clunker” is a term for any vehicle well past its prime, and the next ignition turn may be the last. If it has a rusty exterior, susceptibility for stalling or lack of safety features from the recent decade, then it’s not an okay gift no matter how you cut it. If you don’t want your children to be stranded on a highway or in worst situations, chip in a bit more and get them something reliable.

7. Dodge Viper

Must I explain why giving a race car to a teenage driver might be a bad idea? I’ll be frank: most roadsters are bad first cars for a young driver, because they are just too unpredictable in regular traffic. The Dodge Viper does not deliver a calming ride, it’s a rollercoaster constantly seeking the next ascension. For young drivers it’s a white-knuckle gripping experience, and that’s not what anybody wants.

6. Hummer H1

If you want to nurture the aggressive, road-hogging bully inside your children, go ahead, buy them the Hummer H1. Sure, you may want your kid to have the utmost protection on the road, which in your mind may mean “bigger is better.” However, the Hummer H1, with its action-movie-like off-roading capabilities, can lead to over-confident driving. Aggressive driving is the result of one in three fatal accidents each year, and it should not be an attribute installed in drivers of any age—especially in young and impressionable ones.

5. Chevrolet Aveo

Economy cars with an egg-shell frame and limited safety features, like the Chevrolet Aveo, are not the best option for young drivers, simply because the highest percentage of road accidents are actually caused by inexperienced drivers. Sure, the Aveo has many endearing qualities that may suit a teenager, such as reliability and reserved power, but having a thin arsenal of safety features is a reason enough to look elsewhere since the car has few other redeeming qualities anyhow.

4. Subaru WRX

The Subaru WRX is a car that gets attention, sometimes from the wrong people. When purchasing a vehicle for a young driver, it’s important to consider the impression the car has on others, especially the police. The WRX is a speedy machine with turbo acceleration that can put your teenager in an unsavoury position. All in all, avoid getting a new driver a vehicle with a turbo engine. The maintenance involved is one thing, but the speed it provides is another.

3. Nissan 300ZX

There was a time when the Nissan 300ZX was the cream of the crop, but now it’s an affordable model that offers the same respectable performance.  Although it’s certainly enticing, the 300ZX isn’t the smoothest-handling vehicle on the used-car market, especially since it’s from a pervious generation. Sure, the old car hasn’t grown up much, but your teenager should.

2. Porsche 911 Turbo

Tame your child’s need for speed early, lest they end up on the side of the road. Giving a teenage driver a Porsche of any kind – let alone a 911 Turbo – is a very bad idea. The turbocharged supercar may be a joy to drive, but as enthralling as it is, the risk level of having an inexperienced driver behind the wheel of this vehicle should worry every other driver on the road. If you do give your teenager a Porsche, warn me – I’ll try to avoid the route he or she may be taking.

1. McLaren-Mercedes SLR

A combination of the expensive, the powerful and the extravagant is obviously a good thing for a young driver, right? It sure is – not! No doubt, the McLaren-Mercedes SLR is a highly-touted vehicle for drivers of all ages, but I wouldn’t want a novice driver behind the wheel the same way I don’t want an inexperienced pilot guiding an airplane through a turbulent storm. Not only does the supercar come with a steep learning curve, it is utterly unforgiving when it comes to errors. Repairs and insurance fees can add up quickly, and that is a debt no young driver deserves.

Cars vs. Bicycles: Which One is More Practical? And Where?

Posted by  | August 13, 2014 |
Originally published on Unhaggle.com 
Bike-vs-car

In the battle of cars vs. bicycles, cars are the resounding champions, but bicycles are becoming a preference for many young people. But let’s face it, bike-lovers, automobiles are the most dependable, practical and common means of transportation currently available, no matter how often you rely on your two-wheeler. Regardless of the weather, distance or climb, a car can get you places faster and with greater ease.

That being said, bikes can serve as the active, green and financially responsible option in plenty of scenarios too. With your lifestyle and geographical location in mind, we’ll take a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of bikes, and see how they stack up against the modern automobile.

Cars vs. Bicycles in Cities

Let’s be honest, traffic jams don’t happen because of cyclists – it is the rise of the automotive industry that has nurtured this phenomenon into existence. In big urban areas, traffic is inevitable. So, if you don’t want to get caught in the doldrums of bumper-to-bumper traffic, ride a bike.

In densely populated areas, bikes are an incredibly reasonable choice for getting around – especially since the inception of bike lanes in many major cities. Gone are the days of bikers sneaking into the blind spots of vehicles or making risky maneuvers around moving and parked cars or pedestrians.

Remember that even though you are on a bike, you are still not above the laws of the road. While big cities are changing their philosophy and fostering the growth of biking communities, cyclists must also take responsibility while riding. Biking in the city may be an efficient alternative to driving a car a couple of blocks, but it can still be a stressful endeavour. But as long as you’re attentive and respectful, there is no reason you’ll be late or aggravating to others.

Cars vs. Bicycles in Suburbs and Beyond

Riding a bike can be a great workout, but if you live in a rural area or in a suburban neighbourhood far from where you need to be, a three-hour workout to and from the office or a cross-country trip to the store might not be something you want on a daily basis.

Canada is a big country and there are many smaller cities and towns where accessibility for bikes is limited to the endurance of the rider. Sometimes a dangerous highway separate two cities and taking a bike down those routes can be risky.

On average, a bicycle can travel between 15 and 30 km/h. If it’s a short trip, this sort of speed shouldn’t be a problem, but if you want to go a bit further, be sure to take your stamina into account.

Riders need fuel the same way cars need gasoline. A bad scenario for a biker is to end up between two points, too fatigued, thirsty and weak to continue. It’s important to challenge yourself now and then, but if you really need to get from the farm town to downtown, consider driving.

Costs

When comparing cars to bicycles, the price of each plays an instrumental part in making the decision which one to use.

An average bike cost is between $400 and $1,000. A higher-end bike lock cost is approximately $200, while a helmet can set you back another $100. On the other hand, a mid-size vehicle can cost around $800/month.

A reliable bike is expensive, but compared to a car, a cyclist can buy a new ride every month instead of paying to finance just one vehicle. And we are not even including insurance, fuel, maintenance and other expenses that go into caring for a car.

In terms of pure dollar bills, this is not a contest at all. There aren’t many ways to make it seem like cars are the more financially-feasible option. It just isn’t. So, if you want to save long-term money, pedal on.

Safety

In terms of safety, there are many variables going into both modes of transportation. When it comes to a collision between a cyclist and an automobile, there isn’t much to consider. But if we look at the statistics separately we might be able to identify which one is more prone to accidents.

In terms of accident rates per kilometre, bikes are 26-48 times more likely to get into an accident than cars. About 64 per cent of automobile-and-bike-collision fatalities occur in urban areas during afternoon and evenings. However, in 2009, bike fatalities only made up 1.9% of deaths on the road. The other 53.1% belonged to drivers; 19.5% went to passengers and 13.9% went to pedestrians.

On average, 60 cyclists in Canada are killed each year in a motor vehicle accident, which not that high when compared to the rate of deaths in car-to-car accidents.

Regardless of the vehicle, riders and drivers alike must take precautions. Cars and bicycles are dangerous and safe in different ways.

Other Factors

The invention of cars has changed transportation forever, but bicycles still come with many benefits that are often ignored due to the many benefits of driving a car.

It’s been proven that riding a bike to commute can enhance productivity as well as physical and mental health. Employees that bike to work are often more proactive with their duties and eager to interact with others. Although biking can be a laborious task, it can also boost your energy over time. Riding a bike will also increase a person’s stamina, physical endurance and help burn calories. Even if you have nowhere to go, biking is still a good option for exercising.

If there was a buzz phrase for our generation, it would probably be “go green.” If you want to reduce your carbon footprint on this planet, then go with bicycles. Even if you don’t drive a car, the process it takes to manufacture a vehicle takes a lot of materials and energy. Bikes are simple machines that don’t require a lot to function. So, even if you have a car, choose to take your bike out once in a while. If it probably wouldn’t be your first option, but it can be your second.