Biking Green - Our Daily Green

Monday, March 14, 2011

Biking Green

Every time gasoline prices start to climb, emails start circulating about one day gasoline boycotts. In short, the premise is to organize a single day that consumers don't buy any gasoline. This always hit me as rather faulty logic, because what would stop someone from filling up last thing the day before or first thing the next day. In fact, that is precisely why such boycotts have no impact. They do nothing to address the actual use of gasoline, only the day it is purchased.  Such actions have also been dismissed by Snopes as ineffective.

photo courtesy of: Bikes Belong
The best way to get serious about the amount we spend on gasoline, the most effective choice a consumer can make is to commit to using less gasoline. We are less than a year after the horrific BP oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, and yet it seems like we've done little to actually address our consumption of petroleum. One day boycotts of gasoline purchases are a far cry from action.

With Spring just around the corner, there's no better time to commit to more bike riding and less driving. It's very easy to make a lot of excuses why not to ride a bike, but there are so many better ones that it's time to make a commitment instead of an excuse. Begin with a pledge to ride your bike more often. Bicycling in America has some issues, so advocates such as Bikes Belong and the League of American Bicyclists know that if  they want to make it easier and safer to ride a bike, they must participate in the political process. Last week, in Washington D.C., hundreds of bicycle advocates and industry leaders convened for the National Bike Summit.  to share lessons and best practices in advocating for bicycling, but, more importantly, to make bicycling better through the only way possible: by asking.

Some bicycling stats from Bikes Belong:

Bicycling is for everyone
Bicycling is the second most popular outdoor activity in the United States.
47% of Americans say they would like more bike facilities in their communities.
Bicycling is the ideal way to take short trips
Most trips Americans make are short: 49% are less than 3 miles, 39% are less
      than 2 miles, and 24% are less than 1 mile.
Bicycling can help you live longer and better
3 hours of biking per week reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke by 50%.
Women who bike 30+ minutes a day have a lower risk of breast cancer.
Adolescents who bicycle are 48% less likely to be overweight as adults.
Bicycling boosts the economy
The U.S. bicycle industry sold $5.9 billion in bicycles and equipment in 2008.
Twice as many bicycles are sold in the U.S. each year than cars.
Studies have shown that homes closer to bike paths are more valuable.
Bicycling is less expensive than driving a car
The average American househould spends over $8,000 per year on owning and
     driving their cars – more than they spend on food.
On a round-trip commute of 10 miles, bicyclists save around $10 daily.
Bicycling reduces road congestion and air pollution
Traffic congestion wastes nearly 3 billion gallons of gas per year in the U.S.
For every 1 mile pedaled rather than driven, about 1 pound of CO² is saved.
Bicycling is safe, and together we can make it safer
The average commuter cyclist has just 1 accident every 8.7 years.
There is safety in numbers: the more cyclists there are, the safer bicycling is.

The International Bicycle Fund has compiled a list of 60+ fun benefits to bike riding. Can you add to this list?

There's a reason the expression "it's like riding a bike" is popular. Bike riding something most people have done their entire lives. Pick it back up and make a difference. Our Daily Green encourages you to share a favorite bike story, trail, or adventure you've had. A personal favorite was buying the "Wicked Witch basket" for the front of my bike. It allows me to use my bike for quick trips to the store when I just need milk or bread and not trying to juggle items while I ride. I try to embarrass my children by singing the Wizard of Oz music when I ride with my basket intact. I also usually threaten to "get you my pretty, and your little dog, too".  It amuses me while I'm saving gasoline. Plus then when we take longer rides, I can carry a picnic lunch for the pretties.

Guide to bike trails by state.



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