By Jane Morse
Why bicycle? For the environment. For your health. For your pocketbook. For the pure fun of it.
A lot has been written about bicycling as a means to reduce one’s “carbon footprint” — if you’re not driving a gas-powered engine, you’re not spewing pollutants into the air. But how about reducing one’s weight? A 160-pound person bicycling at 12–14 miles per hour for 30 minutes can burn 316 calories and build fat-burning muscle.
With gasoline prices hovering around the $4 mark — very expensive by U.S. standards — there’s lot to be said for saving money by using pedal power. Bike-sharing is starting to get serious notice in the United States. In Washington, for example, a bicycle sharing program generated 50,000 trips in two years. It has proven so successful that a new “Capital Bikeshare” program has evolved that will include 1,100 bikes available at 100 locations throughout the city.
The U.S. government is taking bicycling seriously. The Department of Transportation recently issued a bicycle/pedestrian policy that considers the needs of non-motorists in federally funded road projects and encourages investments that provide facilities for bicyclists as well as pedestrians of all ages and abilities.
(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. )