May is the perfect month to ride a bike – it’s National Bike Month, and in Washington DC, Bike to Work Day is on Friday, May 17. The National Bike Challenge kicked off on May 1, with the goal of uniting 50,000 people to bike 10 million miles throughout America. Regardless of the reason, swapping out a trip in a car for a ride on a bike is always a great choice!
Why should we commute by bicycle? According to the Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey, “25 percent of all trips are made within a mile of the home, 40 percent of all trips are within two miles of the home, and 50 percent of the working population commutes five miles or less to work. Yet more than 82 percent of trips five miles or less are made by personal motor vehicle.” The average vehicle emits nearly a pound of carbon dioxide (CO2) per every mile driven, and studies show that shorter car trips release more emissions than longer trips. By commuting to work by bicycle, or using a bike to complete errands, major sources of pollutants are kept out of the air. Cycling also incorporates exercise in an otherwise sedentary commute, and provides the health benefits of adding a low-impact form of exercise into a daily routine.
Many communities are becoming more bike friendly. For example, Washington D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare program has over 1,800 bicycles available at 200 various stations around the D.C. metropolitan area. Many city buses and subway systems allow cyclists to bring their bike on-board, and organizations have the option to apply for bike commuting benefits for their employees. Associations and non-profits like the Washington Area Bicyclist Association and the League of American Bicyclists offer great on-bike courses to help cyclists become more confident while riding.
I’ve participated in the past 5 BTWDs, and I love riding my bike to work. Regardless of your reason to bike, be sure to try it out this Friday, May 17 and join your fellow cyclists by celebrating Bike to Work Day! It’s a fun way to get outside and try a new spin on your commute!