The positive consequences of biking span many aspects of our lives. They can be expressed in terms of the health of the environment (and resulting health of all living things), as well as the health of individuals who are more physically active.
A community that is conducive to bicycling can reap many benefits in terms of reduced traffic and improved quality of life. Economic rewards both to the individual and to society can be realized through reduced health care costs and dependency on auto ownership (and the resulting insurance and maintenance costs).
The overall benefits of bicycling are defined by the following categories:
Biking is an excellent way to get exercise, no matter the experience level of the biker. An easy way to integrate more physical activity into your lifestyle is by biking to and from work or school on a daily basis.
The importance of physical activity is becoming more critical due to the number of Americans that have become sedentary and obese. These unhealthy behaviors are putting lives at risk. Small increases in physical activity produce measurable effects on one’s health, such as reducing the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and the overall improvement of mental stability. By making the small change to bike to work or school, you can lower your health care costs considerably and make a positive difference for yourself and your loved ones.
Many of the trips we make on a daily basis are short enough to bicycle. The 1995 National Personal Transportation Survey found that approximately 40 percent of all trips are less than two miles in length, which represents about a 10-minute bike ride.
Biking can help reduce roadway congestion for cities and metropolitan areas such as Richmond. This would ultimately help save wasted energy and gas, reduce automobile pollution and decrease the number of drivers on the roadways, resulting in fewer car accidents. Biking is an underused method of commuting for many Americans and would help alleviate frustration, unnecessary costs and impact on the environment.
Motor vehicles create an abundant amount of pollution. The EPA states that motor vehicle transportation is responsible for nearly 80 percent of carbon monoxide and 55 percent of nitrogen oxide emissions in the nation. Metropolitan areas have the highest percentage of these emissions.
As traffic continues to grow and the number of drivers increases, the overall air quality will deteriorate at a much faster pace than is good for sustainable living. Oil is also a nonrenewable energy. Cars and trucks use millions of gallons of oil products each day. Biking is the safe alternative to help reduce the pollutant emissions into the environment and to save energy.
Biking is an affordable form of transportation. People that use biking as an option for their commute ultimately save money on owning and operating a car. Car ownership carries with it insurance payments, car payments, gas expenses and maintenance costs.
According to AAA, the estimated cost of operating a sedan for one year is $7,800. Alternately, the cost of riding a bike in that same year is only $120.
Bike-accessible communities have an overarching sense of livability and sustainability. Bike-friendly communities enable interaction between their citizens that contributes to the community’s identity. These communities also reap the benefits of having a generally healthier mental disposition. This is due in large part to the general sense of safety that comes with less traffic and congestion.