With the rising cost of gas and growing concern for the environment, there are more reasons than ever to leave the car at home in favor of riding your bike to work. All over North America, commuters are making the switch. They're reaping the benefits for themselves, and they're contributing to sustainable urban growth. Businesses and communities are also doing their part, providing a range of bike parking options to accommodate riders.
It's no surprise that the bicycle is more economical than the automobile – but the difference is more significant than you might imagine. Bicycles are not only significantly cheaper, but also don't require expensive fuel to keep them running. According to recent reports, the average American spends $2,000 on gas every year!
Maintenance and parking are other costs to consider. Some estimates show annual bike maintenance can be 30 percent cheaper than maintaining an automobile. When it comes to parking, especially in dense, traffic-heavy downtown areas, parking can easily cost upwards of $10 per day. Bikes, however, don't require private stalls, and secure storage is often provided free of charge at most city locations.
A Healthy Lifestyle
Cycling can improve your physical and mental health
Beyond improving financial health, cycling will also improve your physical and mental health. Cycling is a rigorous cardiovascular activity that can help improve weight loss and muscle tone, promising to keep appearances trim and healthy. It can also be a means to significantly lower risk of heart disease and diabetes. Cycling to work is also an ideal way to wake the mind each morning. It can increase mental alertness and reduce conditions related to stress, anxiety and depression.
Cycling can also be a more enjoyable way to travel. It can help avoid traffic, not to mention reduce overall congestion in urban areas—and in some cases lead to shorter commutes. When compared to other forms of exercise, cycling presents few barriers for most people, as it is a relatively easy and low-impact activity. Making the switch can also be a gradual transition, as riding as little as once per week can lead to positive benefits while getting you in shape for more frequent rides. Then, who knows? You might even find yourself riding on weekends, too.
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Aside from looking after themselves, commuters should also take time to consider their impact on the environment. In 2011, the Nelson Institute in Madison Wisconsin conducted a study that looked at the impact of the 30 million commuters in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. The researchers estimate that eliminating short car trips of less than five miles for the warmest six months of the year would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by almost 4 billion pounds. When it comes to combating environmental pollution, all commuters have their role to play.
Worried about how to store your bike securely once you get to work? Check out our ultimate bike parking guide for tips.
- Bike to work: tanelviski, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr
- Bike lane commute: U.S. Department of Agriculture, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr