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. League of American BicyclistsThose statistics are pretty sad. It means that there are plenty of people out there who could bike or walk more than they currently do. I know you think in your area it'll be tough because of traffic, weather, you name it, but everyone thinks that. At least look into it. It may be easier than you think.
Google Maps now provides biking directions in addition to directions for public transit, walking and good ol' driving. There are also a ton of resources out there for people looking to start bike commuting. Try googling "bike route" and your city's name or other quick searches. In my area you can find resources that detail bike lines, bike paths and identify roads with safer and slower traffic. I wouldn't have thought of Atlanta as a bike friendly city, for example, but the resources at the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition tell a different story. What's available in your town?
Here are four big reasons you should human power your way to work instead of your normal commute (for those of you who already walk, bike, scooter, etc nicely done!):
- Walking is cheap. No gas money, paying for parking passes, train tickets, tolls, car maintenance or subway fare. My guess is that practical shoes come in at pennies per mile. Biking has a higher set up cost if you don't already own a bike, but you can usually find a decent bike used for about $100 and buy lights, fenders, a lock and a rack for another $100 or so. Don't forget a helmet! Then, aside from new tubes for flats, you're set for years. If you start walking or biking to work you might also be able to ditch your gym membership. How much do you actually use it anyway? Plus on my walk to work I typically pick up more in change than my blog makes in Adsense revenue. (Okay that isn't big money, but neither is blogging...)
- Walking or biking is good for you. Given that our nation has an obesity epidemic, I'm fairly confident that a little extra exercise would help most of you out. Call it multi-tasking since everyone loves that - you're commuting and exercising. The CDC recommends 2.5 hours of moderate exercise like brisk walking per week. Sounds like your 15 minute bike ride to work would hit that each week with only a little sweat. For those of you with potentially longer walking/biking commutes just remember that the 2.5 hours is the minimum. The CDC recommends increasing your exercise to five hours per week for greater health benefits and says: "If you go beyond 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity, or 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity, you'll gain even more health benefits." Personally, I've found that when exercise is built into my routine I get way more of it so walking to work has been an easy way for me to stay active and keep my weight just fine.
- Biking to work is good for the environment. Halting your daily drive to work and swapping it for a pedal-powered work out or a leisurely, relaxing walk is going to make a much bigger difference in your carbon footprint than using reusable bags. PS - It's even better than driving a Prius to work. Lord that over the Jonses of the holier than thou environmental group near you.
- Your human powered commute will make you feel good. You'll feel good about saving money. You'll feel even better about your health. Plus the environmental benefits are a nice cherry on top. I've also found that there's just something fundamentally good about taking a walk. Maybe it's the endorphins, but even if I leave work stressed or angry, by the time I'm halfway through my walk home I'm feeling much better and by the time I get home I'm practically chipper. It's guaranteed me time during my day or a chance to call family while I walk.