5 Ways Bicycling Can Help Save the World

| 6/22/2015 7:00:00 AM

We all know the obvious reasons why cycling has less of an impact on our environment than driving does. According to the U.S. Census, about 50 percent of Americans live within five miles of their workplace, so why aren’t more people riding bicycles to work or when running local errands? For every mile pedaled, compared to driven, almost one pound of carbon dioxide is saved! So park that car and get on those two wheels. Next step: save the world.

Photo by shutterstock.

Reduce Manufacturing Footprint

All manufactured goods, including a bicycle, have an environmental impact. A whopping 1.2 billion cubic yards of air pollution is generated each year thanks to the car manufacturers. Don’t forget the painting and coating which adds another 40 million pounds of air pollution and 24 million pounds of toxic waste. Yes, manufacturing bicycles isn’t a zero-waste or pollution-free industry, but bikes use significantly less rubber and fuel to make than motor vehicles, conserving thousands of acres of forests that would normally be cleared for rubber plantations. The consumer winds up being the one who pays for the larger manufacturing footprint of motor vehicles.

Protect Wildlife & Their Habitats

We know the negative impact of air pollution on our natural environment, but consider the impact of the oil, fuel and hydraulic fluids that drip out of cars. When it rains it doesn’t stay on paved roadways, it becomes toxic runoff that enters our oceans and local waterways. For every parking space one car takes up, 20 bikes can easily fit in its place.

Reduce the amount of land that’s cleared for parking lots and the expansion of roads by riding your bicycle more often. Not only will this protect the home of local plants and animals, it will protect trees that are vital to carbon sequestration, or the filtering and reduction of carbon dioxide in the air. Less commonly considered, air pollution from motor vehicles is an urban animals’ worst enemy. Natural areas are becoming fewer and farther between. Bicycles are quiet, they don't pollute and are less likely to turn urban animals into roadkill victims.

Boost Your Local Economy

The U.S. bicycle industry boosts the nation’s economy through the 1.1 million jobs and nearly 1.8 billion dollars in federal, state and local taxes it generates. By riding your bike instead of taking your car, you’re more likely to support local grocery stores, drugstores and other local businesses. These nearby businesses will foster a vibrant and walkable community which reduces further habitat loss and air pollution. And you get to live, bike and thrive in your clean, green town!