This year’s National Bike to Work Week is May 11th through 15th. While this week-long nationwide event has existed since 1956, it has gotten greater attention in the last several years as more Americans have turned to bike commuting.
The benefits of riding rather than driving are obvious. Just a few are: (1) saving the cost of gas and wear and tear on a car, (2) the exercise benefit of pedaling a bike for a few miles, (3) the fresh air and feeling of accomplishment you’ll get before you ever reach your office door. Many workers may find that riding wakes them up enough to allow them to skip a second cup of coffee at their desk.
A common objection is that riding makes one too hot and sweaty for an office environment. This may be true for some of the most unforgiving climates in the U.S., but it is not for most of them. Many parts of the country have cool and pleasant weather at the beginnings and ends of the work day in May. And riding a bike is so efficient (more than five times as efficient for energy expenditure as walking, for example) that most people can average 8-10 miles per hour on a bike without overheating or drenching themselves in sweat.
For those who ride vigorously to work, many more enlightened employers now offer employees the option of showering at work. If your employer is not one of them, you may be able to stop in at a downtown YMCA or health club and shower there just as you would after working out on-site.
If you need a little more persuasion, consider these facts:
- According toBicycling magazine, over 50 percent of Americans live less than 5 to 10 miles from work. This means the trip to the office for many will be less than an hour by bike.
- The U.S. still has a long way to go in bike commuting. Dutch workers lead the world at 30 percent, followed by Japan at 15 percent. U.S. workers are at a lowly 2 percent. In an intriguing corollary, the Dutch adult obesity rate is 10 percent, while the American rate is 31 percent.
- There are roughly 38,000 miles of bike paths and trails in the U.S., with more opening up all the time. The way to work has become more bike-friendly in the last few years as more safe, clearly marked routes have become available. Locally, one example is the new Selmon Greenway, which provides a shaded route under the expressway from south of Ybor City to the heart of downtown Tampa.
- The most compelling statistic of all may be this one: the average cost of a new car in the U.S. is about $30,000, while the average cost of a new bicycle is $385.
So put air in your tires, grease on your chain, and get ready to ride to work next week. You may like it so much that it becomes more than just a one-week thing.
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