This May, millions of Americans will participate in National Bike Month, showcasing the widespread desire to use bicycles as a healthy, affordable and efficient form of transportation. Sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists and supported by the Sierra Club, the month will feature more than 450 events nationwide, highlighting the popularity of bicycling and the need for bike-friendly transportation policies.
But, while Americans want to ride their bikes, Congress is threatening to hit the brakes.
Already, Americans who ride bikes aren’t getting their fair share. Biking and walking account for 12 percent of all trips in the U.S. but receive just 1.6 percent of federal transportation spending. Still, some members of Congress want to eliminate those crucial dollars for biking and walking in the next federal transportation bill.
“It’s time for Congress to recognize the many benefits and rising popularity of cycling and stop shortchanging Americans who choose to travel by bike because it’s good for their health, saves them money and improves their community,” said Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists.
Even the current miniscule federal investment has produced massive results, and benefits. Currently, less than 2 cents of every federal transportation dollar go to biking and walking, but the number of bicycle commuters grew 40 percent between 2000 and 2010. That growth was even more dramatic in Bicycle Friendly Communities that leveraged federal dollars to improve conditions for bicyclists, skyrocketing by 77 percent between 2000 and 2010.
“Bike month is about smart investments in transportation options,” said Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director. “More and more Americans are getting on their bike to get where they are going. They are saving money, getting exercise and making what might be the most radical act in America today-passing on the pump.”
By continuing to shortchange people who ride bikes, Congress is out of touch with the overwhelming majority of the U.S. population.
- Americans are driving less: The average resident drove 6% less in 2011 than 2004.
- The next generation wants to bike more: The number of bike trips for 16- to 34-year olds grew 24% between 2001 and 2009.
- New polling data from America Bikes, to be released next week, shows that the vast majority of Americans support maintaining or increasing federal funding for sidewalks, bike lanes and trails.
National Bike Month events will showcase how Americans continue to embrace cycling and why Congress needs to invest in smart, healthy, safe transportation choices — like bicycling. Find data, events and information about National Bike Month at bikeleague.org/bikemonth.
Carolyn SzczepanskiCarolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.