This May marks the 59th year of National Bike Month. Sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists, the #BikeMonth campaign advocates to create a ‘bicycle-friendly America’. Initiatives encourage cities across the country to participate in events all month long, including Bike to School Day (5/6), National Bike to Work Week (5/11-5/15) and Bike to Work Day (5/15).
More than half of the U.S. population lives within five miles of their work, yet only a small percentage of commuters chose a bike as their vehicle of choice. One of the biggest reasons people do not bike to work is that their city’s roads are not bike-friendly enough for active transportation commuters. But, cities from coast to coast are taking the necessary steps to create a more Bike Friendly Community (BFC) for their residents by doing things like widening existing bike lanes.
There is a huge environmental impact that comes from biking as well. Cars produce over a billion cubic yards of polluted air during their lifetime. In addition to transportation emissions, frequent bike riders are also more likely to support local shops in their community, as opposed to driving farther out to visit national brand stores. Living in a city that supports bikers can lead to less traffic congestions as well!
In addition to the environmental impacts of biking there is also a great fitness benefit – biking just twice a week to work can burn up to 3,000 calories a month. Calculate that into your standard workout regime, and it will help more quickly impact your fitness goals whether that’s reaching a specific weight, maintaining your current weight or impacting overall body toning. Some of the other health benefits of biking include an increase in energy levels, a pain-free workout for joints, reduced high blood pressure and LDL cholesterol, and overall improved cardiovascular health.
Finally, there is the financial advantage of biking –the average cost of maintaining a bike over the course of a year is averaged to be just about $300. That’s 30 times less than the cost of maintenance on a car in the same time frame.
Bike-sharing programs have gained immense popularity in cities across the country over the past few years. For a modest monthly or annual payment, members have access to bikes all over the city to use at their leisure. As of March 2015, Citi Bike had over 300 bike stations all over NYC providing residents and visitors a healthier and cheaper alternative of transportation.
As of 2011 there were 27,642 bicycle commuters in Aero Jet Medical’s home state of Texas, making it #7 in the nation for the number of active transportation commuters. The most BFC spots in the country are Portland, OR, Minneapolis and Washington D.C.
Challenge yourself this month by biking to work. The environment, your body and your wallet will thank you.