Bicycling is great tool for your community. It makes it safer, healthier, and more prosperous. It’s also great for you. Here are some great reasons to ride and some resources that back up the benefits of bicycling.
Riding a bicycle is fantastic exercise. Every year, the scientific evidence mounts ever higher that bicycling is great for your body and brain. Riding a bike burns calories, lowers your risk of heart disease and diabetes, and builds strength and endurance. It makes you happier, less stressed, and smarter. Bicycling fights insomnia and fatigue, and boosts mental health. It slows aging. In a 2015 study, scientists found that serious recreational riders ages 55 to 79 who bicycle regularly had the reflexes, bone density, muscle mass, memory, endurance, strength, and metabolic health of people in their twenties!
Riding a bicycle is safe, and the more who ride, the safer it gets. If you’re reasonably careful, there’s almost no chance of getting killed or seriously injured while riding a bike. In 71 million trips on bike share bikes in the United States since 2008, there has not been a single fatality. Per mile, a pedestrian has a 3.5 times greater chance of a fatal injury than a bicyclist. It’s getting safer. The risk of injury while riding a bike in California has dropped 42% just since 2000.
It’s safer for our community, too. Thanks to the well-documented “safety in numbers” effect, the more bicycles on the streets, the safer the streets get for everyone—not just people on bikes, but people walking and driving become safer too!
The best way to think about bicycle safety is to look at the “risk-benefit ratio” (comparing the years of life lost from bicycling collisions with the years of life gained from its health benefits). The risk-benefit ratio for bicycling has been studied in a wide variety of peer-reviewed articles, and has been calculated, in some studies, to be 1:5; in others, it’s been found to be as high as 1:96. That means that on the whole, bicyclists gain 5 to 96 years of life for every year of life lost!
Bicycling can make you and your community richer. Dollars saved at the gas pump create sixteen times more jobs when spent elsewhere in the local economy. Because it’s almost free, the bicycle gives people the freedom to get to work or services even when money is tight. Studies show that whenever streets get bike lanes, especially protected bike lanes, businesses make more money. People arriving to a business district by bike spend more money than those who arrive by transit or by car.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the most effective way to reduce CO2 emissions is to reduce fossil fuel consumption. If you ride your bike around town five times a week, replacing just a 2-mile car trip each time, in a year you will keep 440 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) from entering the atmosphere!
Bicycling is fun, but if you’re perusing this website, we think maybe you know that already!