Cycling Rx: healthier people, healthier planet

 

Here in Portland we have the luxury of living in one of the most bike friendly cities in America.  With 8-12% of all commuters riding bikes daily it’s hard to ignore the fact that cycling is becoming a more acceptable, safe and accessible form of transportation.  I am fairly new to the cycling community.   In fact I’ve only been riding a bike regularly for a little over a year now.  I’m a native Portlander and partly due to our already fabulous transportation system I never got around to getting my driver’s license (I’m 25 – yeah it’s crazy).   So last Spring it made perfect sense to me to take the bike commute challenge (http://www.bikecommutechallenge.com/) as a way to gain confidence on my bike, get to work faster and get a little exercise in the mix.  I grew to love my 9 mile commute each day and managed to ride to work almost every day for 2 months.   I got the job at Showers Pass last November and have been commuting 11 miles daily through the rain, wind, and 30-90 degree temperatures.  It’s been amazing. 

I talk to customers from around the country every day who are minority cyclists (my definition: cyclist that are biking in areas where biking is considered a recreational activity, not an widely acceptable mode of transportation).  They are the few that bike all through the rainy wet season and need the gear we offer to protect them from the elements.  Unfortunately since Portland is atop the list of bike friendly cities most people I talk to do not enjoy the benefits of city bike paths, bike boulevards and the hundreds if not thousands of bike related events Portland offers. 

With the economic crisis and an increasingly unhealthy American lifestyle the policy makers are starting to take notice of the benefits of cycling as a way to reduce carbon emissions and increase health benefits for the cyclist and the environment.   Neal Peirce details how Portland reaps the benefits of investing in bike infrastructure in his article ‘Biking and Walking: Our Secret Weapon?’ published in the Washington Post:

 “It’s time, argues Keith Laughlin, president of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (railstotrails.org), for a mega-federal step forward–toward “active transportation.” What would that mean? A quick answer: Walking and biking accepted as legitimate, viable and healthy transportation modes, worthy of priority, not last-and-maybe federal support.

Cities that have already invested seriously in walking and biking access are demonstrating solid results, Laughlin claims. The lead example: Portland, Ore., where $57 million has been spent on in a 300-mile bikeway/pedestrian network since 1991. Portland bicycling has lately increased up to 15-20 percent a year, and another $100 million trail investment is planned. By 2040, Rails to Trails calculates, Portland’s net benefit from better health and reduced fuel savings will be $1.2 billion, representing an eye-catching 8-to-1 return-on-investment ratio.”

Read the full article here: http://citiwire.net/post/1125/

It would be great to see the Portland Bike Bubble explode and influence transportation development around the country.  Spread your bike love to someone new today!

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Explore posts in the same categories: bike commuting, cycling, health and fitness, transportation

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