Sunday, November 13, 2011

Survey says: Bicycling is good for ... pretty much everything

The statistics are in, and they back up that bicycling is good. That sounds like a flip statement, but it’s true. In 2011, we’re facing many challenges as a nation, including an obesity epidemic, increases in air pollution, automotive traffic gridlock, and a population struggling to stretch their household finances. Bicycling is a positive force for each of those issues, and more. 

Wells Street bike lane at Ohio, heading into the Loop.
(Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
But don’t just take our word for it. There are reams of statistics, data and research being done worldwide on the benefits of bicycling, and there a great website on which you can browse the stats to your heart’s content.

Bikes Belong is an organization sponsored by bicycle  manufacturers and retailers nationwide, and their mission is “to put more people on bicycles more often.” Their website has a great page with links to bicycling statistics. If you’re a data hound and you love reading about bicycling, settle in right now with a cup of coffee before you click on the link below, because there’s a lot to read.

First we’re going to whet your appetite with a few data points in support of more bicycling:

  • Countries with the highest levels of cycling and walking generally have the lowest obesity rates.
  • An adult cyclist typically has a level of fitness equivalent to someone 10 years younger and a life expectancy two years above the average.
  • By 2017, Portland, Oregon residents will have saved $64 million in health care costs thanks to bicycling. 
  • For every 1 mile pedaled rather than driven, nearly 1 pound of CO² is saved. 
  • Bicycle traffic in Copenhagen prevents 90,000 tons of CO2 from being emitted annually.
  • Cars are used for 75% of trips under one mile.
  • Most trips Americans make are short: 50% are less than 3 miles, 40% are less than 2  miles, and 28% are less than 1 mile.
  • The average American household spends $8,758 per year on car payments and vehicle operating expenses – more than they spend on food.
  • Cities with high bicycling rates tend to have lower crash rates for all road users.
  • In a survey of visitors to Portland, OR, 78% said that the city's bike-friendliness was a factor in their decision to visit there.
  • Rents along New York City's Times Square pedestrian and bicycle paths increased 71% in 2010, the greatest rise in the city.
  • Homes located on a bike boulevard are worth $5,757 more than homes not on one.

We’re not making this stuff up. It’s all in there. When you click the link, don't just stay on that page, but make sure to check out all the sub-headings in the blue column on the left for dozens of more studies. 

We also encourage you to go to their affiliated organization, People for Bikes, at this convenient link, and sign their pledge to support bicycling. You’ll get occasional e-mails (very infrequently) when there’s important legislation pending, with a request that you contact your government reps to show your support. They make it VERY easy to e-mail your reps, and this kind of nationwide action really makes a huge difference.

Just a reminder that we’d love to see you next Sunday, November 20, to plan and ride about bike boulevards. All the information can still be found at our blog post linked here.  We know that 8:30 am is very early for a Sunday morning, but we wanted to make sure that we’re riding at a time when car traffic is very low, so that even the most cautious bicyclist could feel comfortable joining in on this activity. 

Please RSVP to Michelle and Michael at so that we can notify everyone in case of severe weather conditions that force a change in plans. Hope to hear from you!

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