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Pedal Power: Why Biking Is A Public Health Winner

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No big surprise: Riding a bike provides more exercise than driving a car. But with cities embracing cycling by building bike trails and lanes and setting up bike-sharing stations, the general health effects of biking can now be studied en masse.

64%

Percentage increase in bike commuters from 1990 to 2009

54%

Percentage of all bike trips purely for transportation

47%

Percentage of Americans who want more bike facilities in their communities

On the Map

Many major cities across the U.S. have recently launched bike-sharing programs. Here is a look at some of them.

Launch year Location Bikes Stations

2010 Denver, CO 709 83

2010 Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN 1,550 170

2010 Washington, DC 3,700 333

2011 Boston, MA 1,100 132

2012 Chattanooga, TN 300 33

2013 Austin, TX 400 40

2013 Chicago, IL 3,000 300

2013 Columbus, OH 300 30

2013 Fort Worth, TX 300 28

2013 Los Angeles, CA 4,000 400

2013 Miami, FL 500 50

2013 New York, NY 7,000 420

2013 San Diego, CA 1,800 180

2013 San Francisco, CA 700 70

2013 St. Petersburg, FL 300 30

Riding Healthy

The benefits to regular exercise are myriad and that includes cycling, which can have lifelong advantages.

Women who bike for 30 minutes a day have lower chances of developing breast cancer.

Adolescents who bike regularly are 48% less likely to become overweight as adults.

82%

Percentage of bike commuters who believe their health has improved since they began bicycle commuting

30-60 minutes per day

Length of time cycling takes to improve hypertension rates

We Need the Exercise

Why? Because …

  • More than 1/3 of U.S. adults are considered obese.
  • 18% of children ages 6-11 are obese.
  • Less than 1/3 of Americans are getting 30 minutes of exercise a day, the CDC’s recommended minimum.
  • For each hour per day someone spends driving, there is a 6% increase in the chance of obesity.
  • Excess body weight is possibly responsible for more than 100,000 new cancer diagnoses in the U.S. each year.
  • Exercising regularly helps stave off depression and raises self-esteem.

It’s Cost-Effective, Too.

Biking instead of driving is healthy for your wallet, but it may be even better for the health of cities and towns.

$11.80

Benefits for every dollar invested in bicycling and walking

$115 million

Annual healthcare costs saved in Portland, Oregon thanks to a regional biking trail network

Seeing Results

Let’s take a look at some cities where bike share stations and paths have been implemented and successful.

Midtown Greenway, Minneapolis, MN

Benefits: Home value increase, higher employment rate, number of cyclists increased to 3,500 per day

Jobs created: 700

Wonders Way Path/Ravenel Bridge, Charleston, SC

Benefits: 2/3 of path users get more exercise, connects East coast as part of 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway

Jobs created: 525+

Valencia Street Redesign, San Francisco, CA

Benefits: Bike traffic increased 144%, improved business in city, traffic collisions declined by 20%, motor vehicle traffic declined 10%

Jobs created: 218

Schuylkill River Trail/Wissahickon Park, Philadelphia, PA

Benefits: 58% of population uses the trail for exercise, cycling has prevented 47,450 tons of CO2 emissions each year, invasive plant removal due to trail construction

Jobs created: 745 volunteer jobs

Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade, Portland, OR

Benefits: 220% increase in biking, bioengineered riverbanks reduce pollution

Jobs created: 1,050

SOURCES

http://www.bikesbelong.org

http://www.wnyc.org

http://www.peoplepoweredmovement.org

http://www.earth-policy.org

http://www.cdc.org

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