Citi Bike Share Launch Gets Underway
As surely as daffodil blooms signal the new season, last weekend’s sprouting of the first docking stations (no bikes yet), in Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, heralded the roll-out of New York City’s long-awaited Citi Bike share. The Citi Bike share launch will give New Yorkers 24/7, [...]
Women Bike Webinar: Getting More Moms and Families on Bikes
Research consistently shows that women shoulder more of the household responsibilities, including childcare and transportation. Whether running errands or shuttling kids, women often face additional considerations when it comes to getting around by bike. So join us for our next Women Bike webinar — April 11, from 3:00 – 4:15 p.m. EDT — as we [...]
How Much Driving Is Avoided When Someone Rides a Bike?
If Jane Doe rides her bike a mile to the post office and then back home, is it fair to assume she just avoided two miles of driving? And can we then assume that she prevented 2.2 pounds of carbon dioxide from being emitted? Photo: Bike Reviews That’s more or less the way most agencies calculate averted vehicle-miles traveled. [...]
Bike Law University: Vulnerable Road User Laws
The “Vulnerable Road User” concept is a new and powerful tool — and it’s taking root throughout the country. Recent legislative successes include the “Access to Justice for Bicyclists Act of 2012” in Washington D.C., the recent endorsement of a vulnerable user ordinance by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors (read more about that campaign [...]
Women’s Forum Recap: Adonia Lugo on Bike Justice and “Human Infrastructure”
As a bicycle commuter, Adonia Lugo noticed a clear shift in cycling when she moved from Portland to Los Angeles in 2007. For the innovative scholar, that distinction led to a whole new approach to bicycle advocacy. “I was struck by the impact the transportation culture had on my experience of biking,” she says. “And [...]
On North American Streets, Space for Bikes Is Right There If You Want It
The "arrogance" of car-centric engineering would assume these overly wide lanes can never be narrowed. Experience from Copenhagen shows otherwise. Image: Copenhagenize Imagine how the sheer amount of space given over to cars in North American cities must look to someone from a place with real multi-modal streets. To Copenhagenize‘s Mikael Colville-Andersen, the word that comes [...]
Women’s (Bike) History Month: Barbara McCann & Complete Streets
Guest post by Stefanie Seskin, Deputy Director of the National Complete Streets Coalition Complete Streets. The phrase feels so natural and obvious now, almost as though it appeared in our vocabulary one day, a happy accident of words. But without the tireless efforts of Barbara McCann over the last decade, the entire Complete Streets movement is [...]
New “Walking Revolution” Report Spotlights the Power of Walkability
A new report from the Every Body Walk! Collaborative – an educational campaign led by a dozen organizations including the Alliance and coordinated by America Walks - highlights the importance of walking and walkability for health, business, and communities. The report has its roots in a gathering last December at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Wellness in Washington, DC. The meeting laid groundwork for increased collaboration to build a national movement for walkability to dramatically increase walking as a major form of transportation.
People need regular physical activity in order to stay healthy — many doctors recommend 30 minutes per day for adults and an hour per day for kids. Study after study have proven the benefits of exercise for health: regular physical activity reduces instances of heart disease and high blood pressure, reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s by almost half, and decreases depression as effectively as Prozac.
Still, over half of American adults don’t get the recommended minimum amount of aerobic physical activity. Countering this trend can be as simple as taking a walk.
“Our country’s low rate of physical activity compared to other nations is not just laziness,” writes Jay Walljasper in the new Every Body Walk! report. “To get Americans back on their feet — and to enjoy improved health and other widespread benefits that arise when people walk — we need to make movement, once again, a natural part of daily life.”
People are likely to walk as part of their everyday transportation when a shop, workplace, or transit station is located close to home. In too many communities, our neighborhoods have become inaccessible for walking as government agencies have become accustomed to building at a scale intended for automobile travel.
Advocates can help by speaking up for national, state, and local investments in transportation policies that improve walking. Making it easier to walk by building and repairing sidewalks and investing in neighborhoods built at a human scale can bring walking back into our everyday lives.
The report concludes that “making everyone’s hometowns more walkable will not only increase our health and reduce our waistlines, but also foster the convivial interaction that strengthens communities socially, culturally and economically.”
Check out the Every Body Walk! report below, or download it as a PDF here.
Good news: Studies Show Bike Commuting is One of Best Ways to Stay Healthy
It’s always a pleasure when scientific studies confirm your own long-held opinions, especially when what you think flies in the face of all conventional wisdom.
For instance, who knew that chocolate éclairs and triple fudge caramel brownies actually contain fewer calories than a 12-ounce glass of skim milk? Or that every $1000 you spend on lavish vacations before the age of 65 will, over the long run, provide you with more retirement income than if you’d stashed that same $1000 in a savings account?
Well, to be honest, I made up the fact about the éclairs. And the one about vacations too.
But here’s bona fide scholarly research that excites me in the same way: Biking for transportation appears more helpful in losing weight and promoting health than working out at the gym.
This means I can spend less time wearing a grimace as I endure mind-numbing exercise routines at the Y—and more time wearing a smile as I bike to work, shopping and social events. Just what I always thought.
But hey, don’t take my word for it. According to Australian epidemiologist Takemi Sugiyama, lead author of a recent study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, “Commuting is a relevant health behavior even for those who are sufficiently active in their leisure time.”
Analyzing the research, The Health Behavior News Service notes, “It may be more realistic to accumulate physical activity through active transport than adding exercise to weekly leisure-time routines.”
The four-year study of 822 adults found that found that people commuting to work by car gained more weight on average, even if they engaged in regular exercise, than people who did not commute by car. The authors of the study recommend creating more opportunities for everyone to walk or bike to work.
An earlier study by researchers at the University of Sydney School of Public Health published in Obesity Reviews (the journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity) supports the thesis that leisure-time exercise alone is not enough to prevent obesity. Sixty to 90 minutes of daily physical activity is recommended to curb obesity, which is more time than most people can fit into their busy schedules. That’s why the study’s authors recommend “active transport” like biking and walking for commuting other common trips.
Beyond fighting fat, biking and walking for transportation also boosts overall health. A 2007 paper in the European Journal of Epidemiology concludes “Commuting physical activity, independent of leisure time physical activity, was associated with a healthier level of most of the cardiovascular risk factors.”
The key advantage of traveling by bike over working out at a fitness center is that most people find it easier to do. Instead of vying for scarce free time with many other fun and important things, exercise becomes something we do naturally as part of daily routine. As a study by Portland State University professor Jennifer Dill in the Journal of Public Health Policy shows, 60 percent of Portland cyclists ride for at least 150 minutes per week (the recommended exercise minimum for adults) and that “nearly all the bicycling was for utilitarian purposes, not exercise.”
She adds “a disproportionate share of the bicycling occurred on streets with bicycle lanes, separate paths, or bicycle boulevards”—confirming the importance of bike infrastructure improvements to public health.
In my opinion, all this research also suggests that if I bike a lot for everyday transportation I can sometimes ditch the skim milk in favor of the brownies, and may save enough on auto expenses to both take a cool vacation and fund my retirement account.