May was National Bike Month, but doesn’t mean it’s too late to dust off your bike and take advantage of the many months ahead for riding. “The solution to some of the World’s biggest problems is in your garage,” reads a new brochure from Trek Bicycles. That’s a pretty bold statement, but the facts are compelling. In the U.S. 40% of all trips that we make from our homes are within two miles of our homes and 50% of the working population commutes five miles or less to work. Unfortunately we are in the habit of using our cars for even the shortest trips away from home. But sitting in our garages, is a fun, pollution-free, noise-free alternative that can improve our health, protect the environment, and reduce traffic and parking congestion around the Danville/Alamo area –- our bikes.
According to ibike.org, bicycling is the most energy-efficient form of transportation ever invented! Even a Toyota Prius, getting 50 mpg, loaded with four adults, consumes six times the energy per person as the bicyclist, for the same trip (comparing calories of energy burned).
So, the Trek brochure proposes a simple idea: try to use your bike when your trip away from home is 2 miles or less – running an errand in town, meeting a friend for coffee, going to the Library, stopping by your kids’ school, etc. Remember how much fun it was to ride your bike around town when you were a kid? It’s still just as fun!
Benefits for your health:
- Cycling can help reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, and just three hours of bicycling per week can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke by 50%.
- A 140-pound cyclist burns 508 calories in an hour. The average person loses 13 pounds their first year of commuting to work by bike.
- In 1964, 50% of kids rode to school and the obesity rate was 12%…. In 2004, 3% rode to school and the obesity rate was 45%.
Benefits for the environment:
- The U.S. could save 462 million gallons of gasoline a year by just increasing cycling from 1% to 1.5% of all trips.
- Reduced air pollution – 60% of the pollution created by automobile emissions happens in the first few minutes of operation.
- Every time you ride, instead of drive, you prevent one pound of CO2 emissions per mile (average).
Benefits for traffic & parking:
- Traffic and parking may be the two top complaints in the Danville Area. Every time you or your kids bike or walk it takes a car off the road and reduces parking congestion. You can fit 14 bikes in one parking spot!
- Think of every place in your neighborhood or downtown having a VIP parking spot right in front, just for you, if you arrive by bike!
If you haven’t used your bike in a while, drop by one of the four great bike shops in our area; Cal Peddler, Pegasus, Danville Bike or Alamo Bike for a bike safety check or tune-up. These shops carry commuter and city bikes and related gear like baskets and panniers for shopping bags.
Register your bike with the Town of Danville police and watch for a Bike Rodeo at a school near you. The Danville police support these events by setting up an obstacle course to train kids in bike safety. There are always fun games and prizes.
There is no limit to the level of biking that’s possible in the Danville Area. In Copenhagen, Denmark, two thirds of residents use a bicycle on a daily basis! Imagine how much impact that would have on our health, the environment, and traffic!
More information at 511 Contra Costa, East Bay Bicycle Coalition, and youcanbikethere.com.
Reprinted with permission from Danville Today News / Alamo Today News http://www.yourmonthlypaper.com/pdfs/DT/2010/DT.2010.Jun.full.pdf