Some of the National __ (fill-in the blank) Days border on the ridiculous. Who really cares about National Cotton Candy Day or National Stink-Bug Day? One day worth caring about, however, is National Bike to Work Day (May 17). If everyone biked to work and got hooked on the concept, it would change society.
While this may never happen, for a moment, imagine all benefits that individuals and society would enjoy if the large majority of Americans did bike to work.
The average worker would become much healthier from the daily exercise. That same worker would lose weight and keep the weight off (yup, from the daily exercise). As the individual’s health improved, his or her family would reap benefits. Employers would also benefit because healthy employees complete more work and miss fewer days of work.
Our roads would be much less congested at rush hour so there would be less need to build new or wider roads (a huge cost savings to taxpayers). The roads would last longer and require less maintenance because bikes cause far less damage to the roads than cars.
We’d have fewer car accidents with so many vehicles removed from the road. Also, with so many bikes on the road, motorists would be accustomed to looking for cyclists and giving them appropriate space, meaning there would be a lower percentage of car/bike collisions.
People would know more of their fellow citizens. Cars are very insulating, but you talk to strangers who are biking alongside of you — and strangers aren’t strangers long if you see each other somewhat regularly on your respective commutes.
Of course lots of money would be saved. Bikes are much cheaper to operate and maintain than cars — you spend less on gas, equipment maintenance, tires, and more. You’d probably enjoy lower rates on your car, health, and life insurances, too.
Bike commuting would help the environment. There would be less environmental damage from the extraction of oil, and fewer greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of oil.
Finally bike commuting might not impact where people chose to live in small communities but it would radically alter where people lived in urban areas. Most people would live within 10 miles of work and this would alter all the long-distance commuting, gas consumption, freeway enlarging, and resource consumption that has accompanied the explosion of suburbs.
With all these benefits at stake, why wouldn’t you start using the bicycle to get to work? Step one toward salvation: Get the bike out of the garage, pump up the tires, oil the chain, and be part of National Bike to Work Day on Friday (wear a helmet and roll into work using smaller, less-used roads). Step two: Stick to the biking program all summer long and into the autumn as long as light (and lack of frost) allows. Even if others fall off the wagon, you shouldn’t — your body, your family, and your employer will all reap the benefits of a healthier you.
On Bike to Work Day there will be appreciation stations for bike commuters at the intersections of 1st St. and Wenatchee Ave. and on the East Wenatchee end of the Pipeline Bridge. Commuters can receive free coffee, a bike safety check, breakfast (doughnuts, bagels, and fruit available) and entry in a raffle. More information available at wvtc.org/bike-to-work.
More about bike safety, local riding resources, and local bike maps next week.
Andy Dappen is the content Editor of WenatcheeOutdoors.org, the foremost website about outdoor adventures within an hour’s drive of the Wenatchee Valley.