Bicycle Commuting On The Rise – Why You Should Join The Club
It’s time to take a second look at your bike. With the increase in gas prices, and the continual rise in environmental awareness, bike commuting has begun to sprout in the US. Since 2005 most major cities have seen a sharp jump in the number of people choosing to pedal to work. In the data below you can see distinct upward trends in states with large urban areas (usually on the coasts) with some up almost 100%. And while this mass of tour-de-commuters continues to grow it still only accounts for a fraction of the total population (between 1 -3% respectively).
But let’s be honest, why not bike to work? If you’re like most city-dwelling Americans you live reasonably close to your employment – about 4-8 miles. While at first glance this may seem like an epic early morning journey, don’t let the distance sway you too much. At an average biking pace an 8 mile ride takes a little over 30 minutes. For most of us, that’s pretty comparable to our morning bus rides. So if time really isn’t an issue, what’s holding up most Americans from making the switch?
Why Don’t More People Cycle?
Most of the time, people are hesitant of bike commuting for one of two reasons. First, they may be out of shape and are reluctant to commit to a physically demanding activity or they’re dissuaded by the inconvenience of weather. The problem though is that people often equate running distance with any kind of manual traveling distance. We’re so used to walking or running that an 8 mile jaunt feels like an eternity. But really, biking is a completely different game. The sole purpose of a bike is to eliminate the physical toll on your body – allowing for the ease of coasting. After a few rides most people are pleasantly surprised just how convenient and efficient a bike can actually be.
When it comes to weather, the best solution is simply investing in some good, hardy bike-wear. These days you can pick up a great set of waterproof cycling pants, jacket and gloves that can keep you surprisingly toasty. While it may be a bit inconvenient to change in and out of these clothes each morning and afternoon, it’s important to remember that your commute can often take the place of your usual exercise time (pending its length and difficulty).
The Real Benefits
But beyond the personal advantages, the real benefit of committing to the morning cycle commute is rooted in energy use. Each day we consume odious amounts of energy transporting people a few miles to work. While this may seem like the most expedient option, it’s not the most sustainable in the long term. There must come a time when we take steps to limit our environmental footprint – and biking is one of the best ways to do so. It’s green, emissions free, and the only byproduct is a stronger set of thighs.
So check out the data below and see how the cycle trend is in your own state – and join the gang of proud, pedal ready commuters.
Trends In American Bicycle Commuters
Click image to open interactive version (via BikeGuard).
Luke Clum is a Seattle based graphic designer, developer and outdoorsman. While he loves creating unique designs, he’s most content hiking or alpine climbing in the North Cascades. You can follow him on Twitter @lukeclum
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