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.
Percentage increase in bike commuters from 1990 to 2009
Percentage of all bike trips purely for transportation
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
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.
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.
Benefits for every dollar invested in bicycling and walking
Annual healthcare costs saved in Portland, Oregon thanks to a regional biking trail network
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