Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Save the Earth - and a few bucks - by biking to work

by Heather John, education & community outreach specialist, Nuclear Waste Program

Commuting to work by bicycle is one of my greatest joys. It gets my blood pumping in the morning and it lets me decompress on the ride home each evening. But there is more to biking than the health and social benefits.

In honor of Earth Month, let’s delve into some of the reasons a bike commute is a worthy investment.

Environmental Benefits

Riding a bicycle provides a way to ease the stress on our struggling environment. Biking reduces carbon emissions, raises air quality, and fights global warming and climate change.

Biking to work sustainability stats

  • Riding your bike to work rather than driving can cut down on your household emissions by at least 6 percent annually.
  • Cars produce about a pound of pollution per mile annually; bikes produce none. Bikes are also up to 50 percent faster than cars during rush hour.
  • Bikes take far fewer natural resources to make than cars, the production of which generates 1.2 billion yards of pollution each year.
  • Far less rubber is involved in making bikes and their tires, which helps prevent the clearing of forests for rubber plantations.
  • Not only does riding a bike help combat noise pollution — which affects wild animals — but it also results in less road kill.
  • Twenty bikes can fit in the space of one car, so if more people rode them, we wouldn’t need to clear as much land for parking lots.

Financial Benefits

Commuting by bike saves you money! Not only does biking reduce spending on fuel, repairs and parking, but it also increases your overall health level, so you can potentially save on doctor visits and medications.

Biking to work cost saving stats

  • For overweight workers, being physically active one to two days a week lowered healthcare costs by $400 to $500 per year. (Physical activity was defined as at least 20 minutes of exercise that increases heart rate and breathing.)
  • The average annual operating expense of a bicycle is just $308, versus more than $8,000 fora car.
  • When you ride a bike, you’re more likely to keep your trips shorter while shopping closer to home, which is great for local businesses.

Commute Trip Reduction

I’m proud to work somewhere that values the benefits of alternative transportation. Washington State Department of Ecology proves this with their Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) Program. Large businesses in counties with more than 150,000 people are required to have CTR programs, and almost all of Ecology’s offices offer this incentive.

Employees can earn up to $2 a day for qualifying trips, which include not only bicycling, but also public transit, carpooling and walking. This reduces the strain on traffic, so everybody wins! Check to see if your employer offers a similar incentive.

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. (I thought of that while riding my bicycle.)” – Albert Einstein

“If constellations had been named in the 20th century, I suppose we would see bicycles.” – Carl Sagan



Camille St. Onge said...

Thanks for the biking inspiration. It's a great way to be kind to the earth and to improve your health.

Heather John said...