Should you get a bike for university?
Safety and convenience should be your top two consideration. Source: Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

To bike or not to bike, that is the question.As an international student, you’ve got a whole new city and country to explore.

While public transport should exist to some degree within your university town, it doesn’t hurt to have an extra travel option, like a trusty bicycle. It’s cheap, quick, convenient and fun! Not to mention a lack of emissions that makes cycling eco-friendly.

But to make sure you settle on a good buy, there are several factors you should consider before you spend that cash in the very first store you see:

1. Safety

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Knowing whether your city is safe for bikes or not should be your number one priority. Naturally, this can be difficult if you are new to the area and country.

Thankfully for international students in the US, there’s Bike Score, a service that measures whether a location is good for biking on a scale from 0-100 based on four equally weighted components: bike lanes, hills, destinations and road connectivity, bike commuting mode share.

Neighbourhoods and cities are then categorised into four groups: biker’s paradise (90-10), very bikeable (70-89), bikeable (50-69), and somewhat bikeable (0-49). If your university isn’t scoring above 50, you should think twice about getting a bike.

2. Convenience

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For this, you should research how friendly your university and acccommodation are towards bikes. Some may not have a dedicated parking space for bikes, which can increase the risk of it being stolen. While the idea of whizzing through the city in your bike (and through all that traffic) sounds amazing, it can turn into a nightmare if bike storage and repairs are practically non-existent.

Weather matters too. If you’re studying in a humid, tropical country, think about the very likely possibility of being drenched in sweat by the time you get to college.

3. Price

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You probably already know this – bikes will most likely be cheaper than a car anyways. But be wary if you’re being sold something that’s too cheap or too pricey – the former may cause you to end up with metal junk and the latter may just make your parents livid for splurging without thinking it through.

If money is tight, consider using bike sharing services, especially if they’re widely available in your area.

If you still want to own a bike and save money at the same time, a good starting point would be to approach final year students who are leaving university soon and want to pass on their bikes to new hands. Pro tip: they will most likely be willing to let it go for cheap, too.

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