May 14th-18th is designated as Bike to Work Week and Friday, May 18th is celebrated as Bike to Work Day. Need we mention that the entire month of May is Bike Month? Cities across the country have increased the rate of bicycle commuting merely by raising awareness and providing facilities and incentives that make cycling more rewarding. And Beverly Hills can too. With a Bike Route Pilot program in the works, next year may see real road improvements and bike racks in town. In the meantime…
In the meantime we have to take to our streets on two wheels in order to remind city leaders, businesses and residents that “the bicycle is the simplest and most pleasure inducing way to get healthier while saving our environment,” as the League of American Bicyclists says. “The bicycle is the vehicle of the future. It has a competitive edge in urban transit: it’s efficient, it’s economical, it’s healthy, it’s ecological, and it’s fashionable and fun!”
That’s not mere hyperbole. From a health perspective, obesity and chronic conditions cost us dearly, both individually and as a nation. With 66% of the adult population overweight and 32% obese, we spend nearly $70 billion additional annually – simply because we’re less active than we need to be. There’s no excuse!
In a compact city like Beverly Hills, for example, we often take short trips to the store, and these journeys by car are about three times more polluting per mile than are long trips where efficiency kicks in. Many children are driven to school in cars or buses, which means that they are not likely to get the recommended minimum of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity three days a week.
Why ride? Why not! Activity reduces incidents of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. (Just remember how your blood pressure rises when you’re stuck in traffic.) Environmentally, we save 3.6 pounds of greenhouse gases and pollutants per mile when bicycling is substituted for short car trips. And about 14 bikes can park in the space used by a single motor vehicle. That’s efficient and it reduces auto congestion!
The good news is that cycling as a share of all travel modes is definitely on the rise with solid support from the Federal Department of Transportation, California Complete Streets law, and local health advocates like the LA County Department of Health. Bike to Work Week, Bike to School Day, and Bike Month acknowledge that the bicycle should play a larger role in our daily transportation if only to benefit ourselves and the environment.
We at Better Bike want to create local programs to put cycling on the front burner. Have any ideas? Let us know!