There are many rational, practical reasons why I commute to work by bike — many of them relating to Earth Day goals — but ultimately, my secret reason is that it makes me feel young and carefree (and car-free!) again. Gliding along neighborhood streets, taking in all the sights and smells and sounds, feeling a connection to my community in a really tangible way while I get an excuse to stop worrying about to-do lists and scheduled meetings — that’s the real reason why bike riding is my transportation of choice.
That being said, it’s certainly worthwhile to look at the more qualitative benefits of biking to work.
Riding a bicycle definitely has some amazing health benefits. It provides the potential to exercise and de-stress, and offers a built in part of your day for quiet reflection (depending on your route and traffic, of course).
Biking to work health stats
- People who bike to work have better blood pressure, insulin levels and triglyceride levels.
- You can burn between 215 and 500 calories during a 30-minute bike ride.* (*Based on a 10 mph average commuter pace.) The actual calories you burn while riding depend on your weight, fitness level, speed, number of hills, etc.
- People who bike to work have more energy during the day and sleep better at night. And just three hours of biking per week can reduce your risk of heart disease by 50 percent.
- Bike commuters report better health since ditching their cars. The average person loses 13 pounds in the first year of commuting by bike. Each additional hour spent in a car per day is associated with a 6 percent increase in the likelihood of obesity.
- People who bike to work have higher levels of well-being, self-confidence and stress tolerance. They also report greater feelings of freedom, relaxation and excitement than car commuters.
- Each year, 33,000 people die in car crashes but less than 700 are killed while riding a bike, making it a surprisingly much safer option than driving.
Riding a bike can also introduce you to a whole new world of friends and hobbies. Apart from just getting out there and appreciating nature, you will find plenty of opportunities to join local riding groups (or start one of your own!) and participate in Eco Challenges throughout the year. Your new best friend might be waiting for you just around the corner of your nearest bike shop. Groups like Washington Bikes are a great way to meet new friends and learn some riding and maintenance tips.
I have to hit the road now — the fresh air and chirping birds are calling me. But I’ll leave you with some famous quotes about cycling. Happy pedaling!
“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” –Ernest Hemingway
“The bicycle is a curious vehicle. Its passenger is its engine.” –John Howard