What the Right Bike Can Do for You

When it comes to saving money, being healthier and reducing your environmental impact, there’s a lot to be said for pedal power.

| June/July 2011

The bicycle is a simple machine that can help solve some of our planet’s most complicated problems. Traveling by bicycle can boost your health, slash your spending on transportation, and reduce your fossil fuel consumption — so it’s no surprise that bicycling is growing in popularity. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the number of annual trips made by bike has more than tripled since 1977 and now exceeds 4 billion. Biking to work is becoming more popular, too. Data from the U.S. government’s American Community Survey shows that the number of people who bicycle to work doubled between 2000 and 2009.

“The beauty of bicycling is that it fits every lifestyle, and its benefits are universal,” says Jeff Miller, president of the Alliance for Biking & Walking, a national coalition of bicycle and pedestrian advocates based in Washington, D.C. “Whether you bike 5 or 10 miles to work every day or pedal a few minutes to the grocery store once a week, you’ll build your health — and the health of the planet.”

4 Good Reasons to Start Pedaling

1. Save Money. The U.S. Department of Labor calculates that the average American family spends more than $8,700 a year on transportation — the largest expenditure after housing. Riding a bicycle can take a bite out of that expense by reducing the amount you spend on gasoline and oil. In 2009, that was an average $2,400 per household!

2. Be Healthier. Looking to get in better shape? A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that adults who biked to work were less likely to be obese and enjoyed better overall health — including better triglyceride levels, blood pressure and insulin levels — than those who didn’t bike.

3. Reduce Your Carbon Footprint. Cars, pickup trucks and SUVs are responsible for nearly 20 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and about 40 percent of our nation’s oil use. Bicycling has the potential to put a big dent in those figures.

4. Boost Your Local Economy. The biking industry creates and sustains thousands of jobs in the United States. A recent study at the University of Wisconsin found that the bicycle industry contributes more than $1.5 billion a year to that state’s economy through bike-related businesses, tourism and reduced health care costs.

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