Bike to Work Week is May 13 – 17. According to the US Census Bureau’s <a href=”http://www.census.gov/acs/www/”>American Community Survey</a>, the share of Americans commuting by bike has grown by 47 percent since 2000. Many Bicycle Friendly Communities have more than doubled their bike commuter share since 2000.
<strong>Making the case for biking:</strong>
More than two-thirds of the U.S. adult population is overweight or obese, costing our nation more than $68 billion in health care and personal costs annually. More than one in four kids are overweight, as well. Researchers compared the relationship between bicycling and walking travel and obesity in 14 countries, 50 U.S. states, and 47 U.S. cities, and found statistically significant negative relationships at all levels.
Bicycle commuting is a great way to squeeze regular exercise into a hectic schedule. For a 180-pound man, a 10-mile round trip bike commute burns 400 calories; for a 130-pound woman, this same commute burns 300 calories. A study of nearly 2,400 adults found that those who biked to work were fitter, leaner, less likely to be obese, and had better triglyceride levels, blood pressure, and insulin levels than those who didn’t active commute to work.
According to a survey by the Transportation Research Board, more than 80 percent of bicycle commuters believe their health has improved since they started bicycle commuting. Plus, bike commuters report lower stress and greater feelings of freedom, relaxation, and excitement than car commuters.
Employers in the community benefit from a healthy, active workforce, as well. Cyclists on average take 15 percent fewer days off from work for illnessthan non-cyclists, and generally accomplish more work. There’s nothing like riding to stimulate circulation, relieve stress, allow creative thought and establish a positive attitude toward oneself and one’s environment.
Bicyclists are less likely to be affected by traffic congestion, too. Whether they ride on bike paths or roads, bicycles are much more maneuverable than automobiles. Wide lanes, shoulders and bike lanes provide space for bicyclists to ride right past traffic and on to work.
Bicycle commuting saves on parking fees, parking tickets, fuel costs, auto maintenance costs and transit fares. According to analysis by the League, Americans saved more than $4.6 billion by bicycling instead of driving in 2012 alone.
The average annual operating expense of a bicycle is just $308, versus more than $8,000 for a car. In some large urban areas, it is possible to save more than $200 per month on parking alone. According to CEOs for Cities, New Yorkers save $19 billion per year because they rely less on cars than residents of other major U.S. cities. A new bicycle and cycling gear would pay for itself in a few months.
Portland, Ore., residents save $2.6 billion per year thanks to spending less time in cars and more time biking or walking. And investing in bicycle infrastructure is cost-effective, too. For $60 million — the cost of a single mile of urban highway — the city built a full city-wide bicycle network.
And biking is good for business, too. Research in multiple cities has shown that patrons arriving by bike visit more often and spend more money. Since the costs of employee parking sites are growing, many companies are looking for cheaper alternatives. It costs the same to build parking for 75 bikes as it does for just 4 cars!
The transportation sector is responsible for more than 70 percent of all petroleum use in the U.S., and NASA reports that motor vehicles are the greatest contributor to climate change. More bicycle use means a smaller carbon footprint. During the 2012 National Bike Challenge, Americans kept more than 13 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions out of the atmosphere by riding their bikes instead of driving their cars.
Beyond carbon dioxide, cars are the single largest source of U.S. air pollution. Short trips are up to three times more polluting per mile than long trips. When bicycling is substituted for short auto trips, 3.6 pounds of pollutants per mile are not emitted into the atmosphere.
Add to that: There are 800 million car parking spaces in the U.S., totaling 160 billion square feet of concrete and asphalt. Ten bikes can park in the space used by a single motor vehicle!