Last Saturday I met up with a bunch of locals who seriously enjoy their bikes. What they prefer to ride are 'fixed gear' bikes. What this means, is that you are constantly peddling. You also break with your legs, not a handbreak. Though I don't like this concept entirely, I do like the designs they create and the idea of a single speed bicycle.
For the past few months I have been on the fence about getting a car. The advantage it would have, is getting around in horrible conditions. If it's really cold outside, riding a bike would be troublesome. This disadvantage is all the money I would have to put into a car. Even though I just recently obtained my license, having a car would be very troublesome.
At the event I was at this past weekend, we rode out to a beautiful park. This place was around 20km from my house. I rode there on my cheesy little grandma bike. If I had been on a quicker bike this wouldn't have been an issue. Regardless, I was at the park for over three hours. Then came the ride back, which actually was a race. Some of the Japanese that went to this event, drove there and pulled their bikes from out of their cars. When we were to leave, everyone was to meet back in Otawara at the local bike shop. The people in cars were also racing.
It was extremely surprising to see, that; on a bike not meant for speed, I was able to cover the same distance as a car, in an equal amount of time. Speeds for cars on local roads top out at 50km/hr. There are a ridiculous amount of unnecessary stop lights. That are either too short or to long and don't allow you your chance to pass through them in enough time (a topic I will cover later).
Basically driving a car can be a huge hassle and a drag. This occasion isn't the first time I have arrived at a destination sooner than a person in a car. Essentially, cars have the speed advantage only when its super country bumkin roads or night time. Aside from that, they don't have an upper hand.
If I were to purchase a nice fast bicycle (to get around town over my slow bike), I could ride it at around 30-40km/hr. That is the same speed that most traffic moves around here. I would also have the advantage of not paying taxes on it, money for gas, and shaken (routine maintenance required by the government). Essentially, the cost of a car would be continual and never end. A bicycle would still have costs but since maintenance on a bike is much cheaper, it would be less noticeable.
For me to really debate if I want a car or not, should be based much more in line with 'how long do I want to stay here?' I can can get a cheap car, put money into it, and use it but if I'm here for a short time, it's a waste of money. With a bike, I can at least ship it stateside.