Photo courtesy of Bike Maryland

Bike to Work —
or Even Just for Milk

by Emily Ranson
Bike Maryland

After this long, cold winter it is wonderful to welcome in May and Bike Month. Since 1956, the League of American Bicyclists has sponsored the awareness month – which also now includes Bike to Work Day — as an opportunity to demonstrate the many benefits of bicycling and persuade people to give it a try.

How far do you live from work? Imagine getting an hour of exercise every day before even getting home from work. Sitting in our cars is killing us, physically and environmentally. A 2013 study on the risks of being sedentary showed that car commuters, even if they are physically active in their leisure time, tend to gain more weight than those who commute by other means.

Bikes can replace cars for more than just your commute. According to the Maryland Department of Transportation, more than one third of trips in Maryland are less than three miles. Simply by biking these three mile drives you will increase your exercise and cut down the pounds of greenhouse gas pollution. By combining exercise with transportation we can reduce our risk of heart disease and diabetes, among others, and do our fair share in reducing greenhouse gases.

The Maryland Department of Transportation cautions that less than half of Maryland adults get in their daily recommended exercise. The Alliance for Biking and Walking puts Maryland at #33 for percent of the adult population getting the daily recommended exercise. But it’s not just our hearts that are screaming for a change, it’s also the planet.

Transportation accounts for over 30% of Maryland’s greenhouse gas emissions. The Alliance for Bicycling and Walking ranks Maryland as #33 in terms of commuter walking and biking levels. We are below our neighbors of New York (#2), Pennsylvania (#12), and Virginia (#32). And hey, what do you know? We are #33 in terms of getting exercise and walking and biking. Think they’re related?

Nervous about biking but wanting to learn more? Bike Maryland hosts commuter workshops which will teach you how to safely ride in traffic and will give you commuting tips, such as how to choose the best route or how to deal with your clothes. We will come and run a workshop at businesses, organizations, neighborhood associations, and local bike shops! If wanted, we can even incorporate a ride to practice what you’ve learned after the presentation. Youth Safety Workshops are geared for youth 5-14 years old and can be held at any school, community center, club, or youth group.

Want to improve bike-ability at your place of business, community, or university? Bike Maryland’s Bike Friendly program brings together local leaders and interested parties to discuss and plan what improvements they can make. In Maryland we have four Bike Friendly communities, nine businesses, and one university.

Already confident in your bike skills and but not yet ready to jump in? May is Bike to Work Month and we are all celebrating with convoys and pit stops on Bike to Work Day, May 16th. Give it a try and see what it’s all about!

Look up your region and find the nearest convoy or pit stop on May 16th and get on board!