Unless you’re among the “work from home” crowd, each day starts with your commute to the office. Rush hour takes its toll on both your wellbeing and the environment, but there is a simple (and fun) solution to both: biking to work.
Cars produce carbon dioxide, a contributor to climate change, and the stop-and-go traffic of rush hour makes vehicles even less efficient. According to a study by the Center for Disease Control, US transportation emits more CO2 than any other nation’s economy as whole except China. Riding a bike has essentially zero carbon footprint, beyond what was used to build the bike originally. According to the International Bicycle Fund, a 4-mile bike ride saves about 15 pounds of pollutants from entering the environment and a report from the nonprofit Rails to Trails Conservancy notes that increasing the percentage of trips taken by bike just 3% would save nearly 4 billion gallons of gas per year, eliminate 33 million tons of greenhouse gasses, and be equal to replacing 19 million regular cars with hybrids.
Bikes can avoid troublesome traffic, sometimes getting you to work even faster than a car and saving you from the stresses of your morning drive. The personal benefits of cycling to work are both physical and mental, with improved overall health, fitness, and stress levels.
Biking will also save you money compared to driving. Cars are expensive to purchase and require pricey upkeep, along with the costs of fuel and insurance. A bicycle requires just an initial investment and maintenance that is more affordable than a car. The Automobile Association of America (AAA) reported in 2014 that a small sedan costs nearly $8,000 per year to drive, while a larger SUV costs $12,446 per year. This includes fuel, maintenance, and depreciation of the vehicle. A study by the Victoria Transport Policy Institute in Canada measured the maintenance cost of a bike at just $50-200 per year, plus an annual cost of $50-100 for ownership based on a purchase price of $500-1,000 and a 10-year life. That means 10 years of owning a bike isn’t even half the cost of a single year of car ownership.
Making the switch to bicycle commuting can seem daunting, but the benefits are many. From the environmental improvements widespread biking can make, the improved health you will experience and the extra money in your pocket, biking to work is an obvious choice if the opportunity is there. May is Bike to Work Month, with May 15 designated as Bike to Work Day, but why not get a head start today.