To this avid cyclist and bike commuter, no mode of transportation has been invented that is more efficient and practical than the bicycle for most trip purposes.
Passenger/commuter rail is better for longer commuting and intercity travel distances, but considering 40 percent of all trips are two miles or less in length from home, bicycles win hands down. The list below is provided in no particular order of importance and is not meant to be comprehensive. Readers are always welcome to add their benefits to the list.
- Bicycles use zero fossil fuels to be propelled.
- The human energy used to propel bicycles is renewable and largely non-polluting.
“Short car trips (over distances that could easily be bicycled) are much more polluting than longer trips on a per-mile basis because 60 percent of the pollution resulting from auto emissions is released during the first few minutes of operation of a vehicle.”
Source: League of American Bicyclists
- Forty percent of all trips from home are less than two miles in length – perfect distance for bicycling versus driving.
- Bicycles can be ridden by people of nearly all ages. I have personally seen bike riders from toddlers to age 90+.
- Bicycles provide humans with low impact exercise, health, and fitness benefits without adversely impacting the Earth.
- Bicycles ride quietly, which limits noise pollution and disturbances to nature.
- Bicycles encourage human interaction, communication, and connectivity.
- Bicycles are affordable and accessible to people with limited means.
- Bicycles do not require large expanses of impervious surfaces to be parked and/or stored.
- Bicycles (or variations thereof like velomobiles) are easily adaptable for nearly all types of riding surfaces and climates.
- The use of bicycles instead of motor vehicles can help reduce sprawl and revitalize aging urban areas.
- Bicycles can be repaired and maintained for reasonable costs, often by the owner themselves.
- Bicycling can be an excellent way to combat childhood and adult obesity.
- The cost to construct and maintain quality bike trails is much lower than the cost to construct new roads and/or widen existing roads.
- The amount of impervious surface coverage from a quality bike trail is considerably less than a two, three, or four lane roadway.
- Tandem bicycles offer multi-rider (bikepool) options that increase the efficiency and practicality of bikes.
- Bicycle usage is beneficial to a neighborhood’s or community’s micro-economy as riders tend to frequent those businesses and services located within a smaller radius from their homes.
- Upgrading an existing transportation network to advance greater bicycle usage is less cost prohibitive than all other forms of conventional transport except perhaps walking.