Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Suffering charity fatigue? Make bicycle advocacy your 1-stop shop

Too many causes to choose from? Bicycle advocacy has something for everyone, and it doesn't even have to cost you anything.  (Top 10 are in no particular order)

1. Economy. Bicycle transportation makes financial sense, and the magnitude of bicyclists economic impact gets far less attention than it deserves. In the Bikenomics series, Elly Blue explores the scope of that impact, from personal finance to local economies to the national budget. In the grassroots and on a policy level, the bicycle is emerging as a powerful tool for economic recovery. Studies have even found that bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure projects create up to 46% more jobs than road projects built only for cars.

2. Climate and Environment. Transportation accounts for over 70% of oil consumed in the U.S. Because of its near-total dependence on fossil fuels, the U.S. transportation sector is responsible for about a third of our country’s climate-changing emissions. Therefore, bicycling is an easy way to reverse the damage.

3. Save Lives, and Money. In direct costs, the average American spends about $9,000, or 15% of their income a year on transportation ... mainly on cars of course. If you add in the costs of resource (oil) wars, the added cost of healthcare from air and water pollution and climate change, and other externalities, the numbers skyrocket from there. Therefore, you can save thousands of dollars every year by replacing car trips - at least the shorter ones - with bicycle trips.

4. Health Benefits. Everyone wants to be healthier, right? Bicycling promotes weight loss, improved vitals, and can add years to your life. Simply put, it's an easy, fun, and inexpensive way to stay healthy and feel better.

5. Reduce Congestion. Traffic delays are one of the top complaints of Americans. While bicyclists also must ride in traffic, there can be many advantages. As cars queue up at red lights waiting through multiple phase changes, bicyclists can filter to the front and avoid the agony of stop-and-go traffic, and breathing the fumes of the tailpipe in front of them. There’s definitely a great feeling involved when you coast past dozens of motorists stuck in traffic and then continuing unimpeded when the light turns green. And think of the emissions saved!

6. Social Benefits. As a driver, you probably don’t think much about connecting with or being a part of the same community as other drivers, but that’s different when you’re biking. Whether you just see one cyclist, or dozens on a given ride, there is a feeling of kinship with them that drivers never experience.

7. Safety and Quality of Life. No place on Earth is enhanced by the presence of cars. People don’t like the pollution, noise, congestion, and unsafe streets. These negatives decline when more folks choose to walk or bike - even occasionally. Communities that accommodate Active Transportation are healthier, more vibrant, have stronger local economies, and retain higher property values.

8. Efficiency and Speed. As the most efficient mode of transportation, bicycling can get you someplace using minimal energy and time. In cities, where many people live in relatively small areas, moving around by bicycle rather than a large car can be much faster for most trips. Though the suburbs are less dense, 40% of trips in the U.S. are still 2 miles or less, perfect distances for bicycling. And you can eliminate the time spent waiting in traffic, finding a parking spot, filling up on gas, or waiting for a bus. The bicycle is a win-win for everyone, even motorists who now have fewer cars on the road to contend with. 

9. Parking Woes. Cities and many suburbs can be dense places. Cars don’t exactly fit well in them. Rather than search endlessly for car parking, you can usually lock your bike up outside the entrance of your destination and skip the hassle altogether.

10. Wildlife Decimation. Bicyclists rarely kill animals. Bicycling infrastructure does not create highway kill zones that cannot be traversed. A smaller transportation footprint plays less of a role in habitat fragmentation. Cars, on the other hand, snuff out millions of lives every year, pushing some to the brink of extinction. Cities built around bicycling and walking are more compact, and preserve vastly more habitat and green space than the sprawl of car-centric cities and suburbs.

5 things you can do to support Bicycle Advocacy in Delaware, no money down!
  • Join 1st State BIKES by simply following us on Facebook, Twitter, RSS feed, or subscribe via email (see our homepage, lower right).
  • Respond to action alerts supporting bicycle safety, including petitions and public workshops.
  • If you live in a city, join a local advisory committee. Newark, Wilmington, and Dover now have bicycle committees and/or plans.
  • Attend Bringing Education and Safety Together (B.E.S.T.) meetings, and consider how you might help promote Active Transportation.
  • Periodically check in with the Delaware Bicycle Council, and stay abreast of projects and events happening around the State.

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