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The Impact of Biking Instead of Driving

By Amanda Sides on Jun 15, 2016

At Growth Advance, the impact we make on the environment is important to us. We've written about the pros and cons of CFL lightbulbs, why you should start composting, and how to start thinking about what you'd do if trash was your responsibility.

We believe that small actions add up to big results, which is why we can all do our part to care for the planet we live on. One of those small actions is biking (or walking) instead of driving. The thing is, though, spending more time on a bike instead of in a car isn't just good for the environment. It's good for our health and even the economy, as well.

Granted, it's not always possible, and sometimes it's just too darn cold out! But take a look at these statistics from People for Bikes and Bicycling and consider what might happen if we all chose to bike or walk a little more often:

If Americans made one 4-mile round-trip by bike instead of car per week, we'd burn nearly 2 billion fewer gallons of gas annually.

2/3 of the petroleum used in the US is imported.

In 2009, traffic congestion wasted 3.9 billion gallons of fuel. 

On average, Americans spend more than an hour per day in a vehicle.

Operating a bike for a year costs less than 4% of what it costs to operate an average vehicle for the same length of time.

44% of American drivers say traffic congestion increases their stress.

Each hour spent driving in a day corresponds with a 6% increase in the odds of being obese.

Washington, D.C.'s bike share program saved each member about $800 in 2012, and they drove a total of 4.4 million fewer miles.

In 2001, the Maine Department of Transportation reported that bicycle tourism brings $66.8 million into Maine's economy.

Every day, bicyclists in Philadelphia ride 260,000 miles, which saves 47,450 tons of CO2 from being emitted by cars every year.

I work from home most of the time so I don't have the opportunity to bike to work (and honestly, I'm a bit scared of biking in the city!), but I do make an effort to walk everywhere I possibly can. Walking for groceries, dinner, or events is usually possible in the city, and I can go weeks without getting in a taxi. Finding these statistics renewed my commitment to doing so.

What do you think: could you limit your time in the car and switch to a bike? Bike to Work Week 2016 is May 16-20, with Bike to Work Day on May 20. Maybe that's a good time to start a new habit!

Do you own a bike? Do you bike to work? Why or why not?

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