With a wee bit of self-interest (and perhaps, hyperbole), Trek, the bicycle manufacturer, put out a pamphlet not too long ago, noting that the solution to some of the world’s biggest problems may be sitting in your garage.
Yeh, that wouldn’t be the ol’ 3 Hummer H3 — thankfully, the last one of those rolled off a Shreveport production line in May of 2010. Nah, it’s your bike!
Turns out that 40 percent of all the trips we make are within two miles of our front door and half of all working people commute five miles or less to their job. Yet, 82 percent of these short trips are made by car. Doesn’t take a genius to realize that we don’t need to lug a 2,000-pound hunk of metal around with us on most of these trips. In the process, we can substantially reduce carbon emissions (most of which come during the first minutes after we start our engines).
Trek highlights other issues, too, like childhood obesity, where bicycling can make a difference. They note the inverse relationship between the percentage of kids who bicycled or walked to school through the 1970s (50 percent) and the percent of kids today (3 percent). Bicycling can also help reduce increasing rates of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, etc. for adults. The average bike commuter loses 13 pounds their first year.
Not to mention, bicycles reduce traffic congestion and trips to the gas pump. Downtown bike and ped-friendly streets also boost economic activity.
But here’s what the Trek pamphlet doesn’t tell you: Riding a bike is fun. Feet off the ground, wind and sun on your skin, and suddenly you feel 20 years younger. Rather than stressing about deadlines while stuck in morning traffic, you start noticing the sounds, scents, and colors of the street. At least that’s what happens to me.
It’s really an exciting time for bicyclists as infrastructure improvements, education, and advocacy by organizations like Bike Maryland and the Baltimore Bicycling Club, for example, are creating a better environment for cyclists. According to census data cited by Atlantic Cities last year, the number of bicycle commuters in Baltimore City increased 233 percent over the last decade. (Granted, there was a lot of room to grow).
So this is just an introduction into Bike Shorts, a blog launching today that’ll cover all things bicycling — local bike culture, bike commuting, recreational rides, bicycling infrastructure and legislation — but also other forms of alternative transportation as well as more general sustainability issues.
Let’s go for a ride…