Next Time You See Bicyclists on the Road, Thank Them for Your Better Health


Something I think everyone knows now is that bicycling is good for your health. However, something many drivers probably let slip through their consciousness when they see a bicyclist on the road is that bicycling is also good for their (the driver’s) health.

Of course, the benefits of bicycling go far beyond health, as well.

As Jay Walljasper of Shareable notes:

“All Americans are better off because biking and walking foster improved public health (and savings in health care expenditures for households, businesses and government), stronger communities and local economies, less congestion, safer streets, lower energy use and a cleaner, safer environment.”

Rather notably, one political party, despite all these benefits has been trying to kill funding for bicyclists and pedestrians recently. This is also despite the fact that bicycling and walking account for 12% of all trips in the US and only get 1.6 of federal transportation funding.

For the past year powerful voices around Washington have singled out programs to improve biking and walking as flagrant examples of wasteful government spending.

Since last summer, proposals have flown around the Capitol to strip away all designated transportation funds for biking and walking—even though biking and walking account for 12 percent of all trip across America but receive only 1.6 percent of federal funding.

Quite the opposite of how bicycling and walking are portrayed by these peculiar politicians, however, these modes of transport clearly benefit us in many ways while also saving us a ton of money, as anyone with common sense can see. “Instead of a boondoggle, continued funding to improve biking and walking conditions in the U.S. represents a sound investment that saves taxpayers money now and in the future,” Jay writes.

“Even if you will never ride a bike in your life, you still see benefits from increased levels of biking. More bicyclists mean less congestion in the streets and less need for expensive road projects that divert government money from other important problems.  Off-road paths, bike lanes, sidwalks and other bike and ped improvements cost a fraction of what it takes to widen streets and highways. It’s proven that bicycling and walking increases people’s health and reduces obesity, which will translate into huge cost savings for government and a boost for our economy.”

With the number of Americans who primarily commute by bike, the most efficient way to get around, increasing 43% from 2000 to 2010, don’t you think it’s about time they got a little more respect from politicians supposedly looking to save the government money? And isn’t it time they started putting less money into expensive infrastructure projects for oversized vehicles that kill people and more money into bicycling and walking infrastructure?

Image: protected and colored bike lane on Dunsmuir St. in Vancouver, by Paul Kruger (CC BY 2.0 license)

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