Today is National Bike to Work Day. To celebrate I’m going to post some of my favorite cycling propaganda, and I encourage you to do the same.
Take the jump to read Jim Wilcox‘s recent Register-Guard editorial and view a few pro-cycling videos that have been making the rounds. Please feel free to post your own links and pictures in the comments. I’d love to see some shots from this morning’s breakfast events.
Via the Register-Guard: Commuting by bike delivers big return on investment
GUEST VIEWPOINT: Commuting by bike delivers big return on investment
By Jim Wilcox
Appeared in print: Thursday, May 20, 2010
Friday, on National Bike to Work Day, more than a thousand local cyclists will join a half million nationwide as they enjoy a scenic ride to work. While they’ll mostly ride for pleasure, this cycling cadre will help reduce rising health care costs, boost the economy and build community.
Unfortunately, harried motorists will remain unconvinced that these “roll models” are people just like them â€” with some even believing that bicyclists are part of a subculture threatening their right to drive. To correct this misperception and improve our community, we must appreciate the bicycle as an elegant solution to the challenges of our time: rising health care costs, economic stability and loss of community.
Though our health care crisis is no news, it is surprising that limited transportation choices are a leading cause. Since the 1950s, we have designed our cities around the car, spending trillions on highways linking us to work, shopping, entertainment and recreation, losing the opportunity to exercise for daily transit. The resulting sedentary lifestyle now causes diabetes, cardiovascular disease and a host of other illness, adding an estimated $75 billion nationally to health care and $25 billion in lost productivity â€” costs passed on to employees, business owners, taxpayers and consumers.
The rise of obesity among young people due to the misalignment of transportation options is especially troubling. Despite significant efforts by advocates for active transportation, only about 10 percent of our children walk or bike to school, putting them in danger of more obesity-related health problems and a life expectancy shorter than that of their parents.
Just as health care costs have risen, so has our dependency on imported oil, funneling wealth even to our enemies. Locally, two thirds of the $800 million spent last year on gas in Lane County went to foreign oil producers, money that could have boosted our economy, raising employment.
While we traded health and wealth for the convenience of the car, we robbed neighborhoods of serenity. Neighborhood associations, complaining of excessive traffic and resulting noise, pollution and danger, demand traffic calming devices and increased enforcement of speed laws from beleaguered police. Yet all too often, we’ll still drive a mile for a loaf of bread, the trip costing more than the purchase.
The car has its place, but it is often the worst choice for the 40 percent of all trips that are two miles or less, during which a cold engine spews excess pollution and mileage is cut in half. Yet this is where the bicycle is best: the most efficient and appropriate form of transportation on the planet, community-friendly, requiring little government intervention, and independent of oil dictators â€” benefits attractive to conservatives and liberals alike.
Today’s cycling commuters promote the business bottom line with increased productivity and money for our local economy. Physically active employees take 27 percent fewer sick days per year, experience fewer on-the-job injuries, and arrive for work refreshed and alert from a brisk bike commute.
And that virtually free commute means dollars for our local economy. Only 15 cents of every dollar spent fueling a car reaches local business, but that same dollar saved by bicycling and spent locally is an economic multiplier. Based on cyclists who tracked more than 250,000 miles on our Tread Lightly Calculator, we project the bike-based stimulus for our local economy at about $2 million in gas-related savings alone. Counting reduced health care costs, fewer sick days, increased productivity, eased congestion and virtually no wear on our roads, the total local savings is between $5 million and $8 million annually.
With incentives that would raise our current year-round 5 percent bike mode share to 15 percent, a rate half that of many other world cities, the economic savings could produce a $15 million to $25 million annual boost for our local economy, easily 50 times the yearly amount allocated for repair of bicycle and pedestrian paths in the street repair bond measure approved by Eugene voters in 2008.
Despite the increasing numbers of cyclists, many community leaders dismiss the notion that cycling is a reasonable alternative to driving for short trips, even though a two-mile ride takes only 12 minutes. When one considers the speed, efficiency, health and productivity benefits, as well as reduced congestion and wear on roads, it’s not surprising that enlightened officials and business leaders see beyond myopic blinders and embrace cycling as a public benefit with a phenomenal return on investment.
To increase cycling, we need to make biking short distances easier than driving. We need bike boulevards with neighborhood-only traffic, separated bicycle lanes called cycle tracks, parking on a parity with car parking, employee incentives, public relations campaigns, and endorsement from conservative and progressive business associations. Cyclists can also help by showing respect for motorists who either cannot, or believe they cannot, bike.
All of this can happen â€” and it will happen on a small scale Friday, when for a day, the nation embraces the public benefit of the world’s most efficient vehicle, the bicycle.
Jim Wilcox (email@example.com) is director of the BikeLane Coalition and regional consultant for Bikestation.
To help make Jim’s point, I’ll post a video of a bicycle rush hour in Utrecht, the 4th largest city (pop 300,000) in the Netherlands, which has a 33% bicyclist mode share.
In case that wasn’t impressive enough, the same city in the snow:
Next is one of my favorite videos, even though it may not be currently relevant: Spencer Boomhower‘s 2009 Pro-Idaho Stop video.
Finally, a video that I helped create: The GreyMatter Juggler’s “Teaching Sustainability Through Circus.”
Please post your own favorite videos and picture in the comments!