- The health benefits of regular physical activity are far-reaching: reduced risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and other chronic diseases; lower health care costs; and improved quality of life for people of all ages.
- Physical activity need not be unduly strenuous for an individual to reap significant health benefits. Even small increases in light to moderate activity, equivalent to walking for about 30 minutes a day, will produce measurable benefits among those who are least active.
- Many of the trips that Americans make every day are short enough to be accomplished on a bicycle, on foot or via wheelchair. The 1995 National Personal Transportation Survey found that approximately 40% of all trips are less than 2 miles in length – which represents a 10 minute bike ride or a 30 minute walk.
- Bicycling and walking can help to reduce roadway congestion. Many streets and highways carry more traffic than they were designed to handle, resulting in wasted time and energy, pollution, driver frustration, and gridlock. Bicycling and walking require less space per traveler than automobiles.
- Motor vehicles create a substantial amount of air pollution. In fact, transportation is responsible for nearly 80% of carbon monoxide and 50% of nitrogen oxide emissions in the U.S.
- Although individual cars are much cleaner today than they were in earlier years, if total traffic continues to grow, overall air quality will deteriorate. Moreover, cars and trucks burn millions of barrels of oil, a non-renewable energy source, every day.
- Bicycling and walking are affordable forms of transportation. Car ownership is expensive, and consumes a major portion of many Americans’ income.
- The cost of operating a car for one year is approximately $5,170 (AAA Mid-Atlantic).
- The cost of operating a bicycle for a year is only $120 (League of American Bicyclists).
- The average family has to work for more than 6 weeks to pay a year’s car expenses, compared to less than one day needed to pay for a year’s bicycle expenses. (Based on U.S. Census, 1998 median family income figures).
- Walking is FREE!
Quality of Life Benefits
- In a growing number of communities, bicycling and walking are considered as indicators of a community’s livability – a factor that has a profound impact on attracting businesses and workers as well as tourism.
- In cities and towns where people can regularly be seen out bicycling and walking, there is a palpable sense that these are safe and friendly places to live and visit.
- 60% of Americans lead completely sedentary lifestyles, and 40% are clinically overweight.
- Research conducted in 1999 by the Centers for Disease Control found that "obesity and being overweight are linked to the nation’s number one killer – heart disease – as well as diabetes and other chronic conditions." The report also states that one reason for Americans sedentary lifestyle is that "walking and cycling have been replaced by automobile travel for all but the shortest distances."
- Regular physical activity may help maintain weight, control blood pressure, raise the level of "good" cholesterol, and reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
- One in ten U.S. households do not own an automobile.
- About one-third of all Americans cannot or do not drive – they may be too young, too old, or unable to afford a car.
- About 40% of all trips are shorter than 2 miles – a 10 minute bike ride or a 30 minute walk.
- Motor vehicle emissions represent 31% of total carbon dioxide, 81% of carbon monoxide, and 49% of nitrogen oxides released in the U.S.
- 60% of the pollution created by automobile emissions happen in the first few minutes of operation, before pollution control devices can work effectively. Since "cold starts" create high levels of emissions, shorter car trips are more polluting on a per-mile basis than longer trips.
- A short, four-mile round trip by bicycle keeps about 15 pounds of pollutants out of the air we breathe.
Air pollution contributes to the deaths of 60,000 people nationwide.