By Jessica Wall
May 17th marks the beginning of Bike to Work Week, when people from all over the country are encouraged to step out of their cars and onto a bike. And as Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, declared in March, we are at a turning point in the US’s transportation policy: “This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized.” Those are wonderful words to hear, considering the sizable benefits that biking brings to a community, including:
-- Lessened amounts of noise, air and water pollution: Fewer cars on the road means less auto fluid being leaked onto the roads and into our storm drains, a reduced amount of smog obscuring our skylines, and quieter neighborhoods.
-- Increased accessibility to a wide array of income brackets: Those that cannot afford a car and the funding needed to maintain one can more easily afford a bicycle. You don’t pay anything to park a bike and the high costs of gas are a thing of the past when you adopt a cycling lifestyle. All that money that you’re saving can be spent supporting local businesses and fueling the economic recovery.
-- Reduced need for space: Ten to twelve bikes can fit in a single parking space, and the price of a bike rack is a fraction of the cost of a car parking space. ($2200-$12,500 for a single car vs. $150-$300 for a rack that can fit two bikes) All those unnecessary parking spaces can be easily converted to green areas to provide more natural spaces in our cities.
-- Better public health: Want to live longer? One study found that men that bike to work had a mortality rate 39% lower than their non-biking counterparts, even after adjustment for other risk factors. And in a nation with steadily rising obesity rates, any excuse to increase activity should be embraced (especially when no gym membership is required).
Even if it’s just for a week, give biking to work a try. You'll get some exercise, save money, and reduce your ecological footprint in the process. Maybe you'll even have fun.
For more information on Bike to Work Week events in your community, check out the listing on the League of American Bicyclists website.
Original post on NRDC Switchboard