We all know that riding a bicycle is good for your health. We also know that with gas prices being as they are, riding public transportation is good for your wallet. Just how good? How about around $7 billion good and 1,100 lives saved each year good.
A Public Service
Jonathan Patz, director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and Maggie Grabow, a Ph.D. candidate at University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Nelson Institute have published a study concluding that if more Americans utilize public transportation and turn to bike riding massive savings, both in money and lives, can be accomplished. The study looked at eleven of the largest metropolitan areas in America’s upper Midwest.
The study concluded that if Americans substituted half of their short car trips, cited as around five miles round trip, with bicycle trips the saving would amount to around $3.8 billion a year, even if these substitutions took place only during the warmer months of the year. The $3.8 billion a year savings come from avoided death and reduced healthcare costs. Riding a bike helps maintain a healthy body weight and that cuts down on obesity diabetes—two conditions that are becoming an epidemic in the United States. The website HealthPartners.com claims that the average American only takes between 3,000 and 5,000 steps per day. To say that Americans live a sedentary lifestyle is an understatement.
Reduced Dependency On Cars And Oil
Additionally, less time in the car means less money spent on gas, less money spent on car maintenance caused by daily use, and less air pollution that has been linked to asthma and other respiratory illness. According to the study, the combination of switching from taking the car on short trips to riding a bike and taking public transportation instead could result in saving about $7 billion annually, including 1,100 lives each year due to better air quality and improved physical fitness.
Granted, in some geographical location in America stitching from riding a car to riding a bike and public transportation is difficult—but not impossible especially if cities and towns are willing to help out.
An action such as towns or cities building bike paths and transitioning to an infrastructure that favors pedestrians rather than automobiles is the first step. If people are encouraged to use bikes and mass transit systems they will. A list of the top bicycle friendly cities in American can be found here and a guide to your local trails and bike paths can be found here.
Electric and hybrid vehicles are great for long trips and to haul goods but if your destination is only a few miles away and there will not be much to carry, pop on a helmet and jump on your pedal bike.
Source: ENN | Image: Bike Lane via Shutterstock
Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison