Earth911 is honoring Earth Day’s 52 years of inspiring action with 52 Actions for the Earth. Each week from Earth Day 2022 to Earth Day 2023, we will share an action you can take to invest in the Earth and make your own life more sustainable.
This week, you can invest in the Earth by riding a bike.
Action: Bike to Work
Transportation contributes more than a quarter of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions – that’s more than any other activity. North America’s car culture ensures that we have the largest per capita carbon emissions outside of the oil-producing Middle Eastern countries. On average, Americans drive 13,474 miles per year — equivalent to more than four round-trip drives from New York to Dallas — in cars that average 25 mpg. Not many lifestyle changes could reduce our environmental impact as much as driving fewer miles.
Bike to Work Day
National Bike to Work Day is a project of the League of American Bicyclists. It takes place on the third Friday in May in the United States (May 20 this year) at the end of Bike to Work Week, which is part of the larger Bike Month celebration that lasts throughout the month of May. (In Denver, they do their own thing on June 22). While the League is inspired more by a love of cycling than a particular environmental interest, the month-long celebration of Bike Month provides support and encouragement to help you get on a bike at least once.
And there is no question that cycling is a more environmentally friendly way to get around. It doesn’t just cut down on vehicle emissions. Cycle-friendly cities are safer; in cities like Seattle, the presence of bicycle lanes has even been shown to reduce vehicle collisions that don’t involve bicycles. Cycling contributes $261 million in public health savings each year just in the city of Copenhagen, which is famously bike-friendly. In addition to being healthier, cyclists are reducing more than just transportation emissions, because getting sick has a huge carbon footprint.
You might bike every day for a month, every day of Bike Week, or just on May 20. Maybe this weekend your action is just to dig your bike out of the garage and give it a tune-up so it’s ready to go the next time you feel like giving it a try. Whatever action you start with, you’ll only make a dent in your transportation footprint if your action this week helps to make a regular change. But don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t convert you to a full-time cycle commuter. You might end up biking every day but only in summer; or biking to work once a week. If your work is too far to bike, maybe you can bike as far as the train station. Or choose a different frequent car trip to replace with cycling.
If biking is physically not possible for you, get creative with other eco-friendly transportation options like carpooling or taking public transit. Bicycles are one great transportation method, but the point is to lower your transportation footprint, so use this opportunity to rethink the way you get around.
Tell us about your action by tagging us @Earth911 on social media. Use the hashtag #EarthAction52 to discover other readers’ ideas.