Why bike to work? The more appropriate question seems to be why not?

The benefits of biking for transportation are overwhelming and opportunities abound for choosing this form of active transportation for better personal and community health.

Photo by: Matthew Roth

Photo by: Matthew Roth

May is National Bike Month and is a time for individuals, organizations, schools and employers to promote bicycling as an active, healthy form of transportation. National Bike Month includes an ever-expanding number of local events and activities promoting cycling in communities across the nation. In 2016, Bike to Work Week is May 16-20 and Bike to Work Day is Friday, May 20.

This Michigan State University Extension article reviews some of the reasons to substitute your four-wheeled vehicle for two wheels this biking season. Sure, work or personal schedules may not allow all of us to bike for transportation purposes every day, but the benefits of doing so are overwhelming and chances are, each of us has opportunities to make the tradeoff for better personal and community health.

Save Money: According to AAA, the annual cost of owning, operating, and insuring a car in the U.S. was about $8,700 in 2015 – and that’s for the average sedan; not an SUV. Making more trips by bike will reduce operating expenditures, but might you be able to save even more money by switching to bike, transit, and ridesharing altogether?

Reduce CO2: Substituting your bike for your car means fewer vehicle miles traveled, and fewer greenhouse gas emissions, but will that personal choice really make a difference? According to a 2015 study by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, if 14 percent of travel in the world’s cities in 2050 was by bike, carbon emissions from urban transportation would be 11 percent lower.

Stay Fit: Countless studies detail that active forms of transportation, such as walking and bicycling, have concrete personal and societal health benefits. Evaluating Active Transport Benefits and Costs: Guide to Valuing Walking and Cycling Improvements and Encouragement Programs is one such recent study that assembles much of this research in a single resource. Choosing to ride a bike for transportation purposes integrates physical activity into an otherwise sedentary daily routine.

Increase Productivity: We know that being physically active reduces sickness absence from work, lowers healthcare costs, and reduces stress. Researchers have even made the specific connection that individuals that bike to work have less sickness absence, and the more often people bike to work and the longer the distance travelled, the less they report being sick (Hendirksen et al, 2010).

The above is a partial list of the many benefits of choosing to bike to work. If you have never ridden your bike to work, why not? If you do so on a regular basis, why not try to convince a friend or co-worker to join you? Whatever your comfort and skill level, it may be helpful to review the bicycle commuting considerations in the Michigan State University Extension article Hop on your bike, it’s National Bike Month!

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