Using a bicycle for your work commute or your in-town errands is a great way to save some money, help the environment and keep an active lifestyle. And National Bike Month is a great time to start! The League of American Bicyclists outlines the benefits below:
Health and Productivity
More than 2/3 of the U.S. adult population is overweight or obese, costing our nation more than $68 billion in healthcare 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 and less likely to be obese and had better triglyceride levels, blood pressure and insulin levels, than those who didn’t actively commute to work.
According to a survey by the Transportation Research Board, more than 80% 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% fewer days off from work for illness than non-cyclists, and generally accomplish more work. There’s nothing like riding to stimulate circulation, relieve stress, allow creative thought and establish 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 $800 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. Investing 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.
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 four cars!
The transportation sector is responsible for more than 70% 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!
For more on the benefits of cycling, check out:
There are lots of activities are planned for National Bike Month. Learn more about these and other bicycling events in our Chicagoland Cycling Calendar >>
Make sure your bike is ready for National Bike Month and for the summer ahead. Stop by Higher Gear or call ahead to schedule your tune-up >>