Autos are the single largest source of U.S. air pollution. Short trips are up to three times
more polluting per mile than long trips. When bicycling is substituted for short auto
trips, 3.6 pounds of pollutants per mile are not emitted into the atmosphere. More
bicycle use means less benzene, cyanide, lead, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, CFCs,
sulfates, and ozone in the air. In addition, the bicycle season matches the harmful
ground-level ozone season. By biking, you contribute to pollution prevention when it is
If the real taxpayer subsidy of autos were reflected in fuel taxes, a gallon of gasoline might cost as much as $9.00. That's because other taxes cover the costs of road building, maintenance, parking space, police services and losses from accidents, pollution and congestion. If more commuters bicycled, these costs would go down. All taxpayers, businesses and citizens would save money!
Bicycling reduces health costs
According to the CDC, more than 200,000 deaths per year can be attributed to physical inactivity. Obesity costs our nation $68 billion in health care and personal costs annually. The statistics on the lack of physical activity among children are also alarming. Most children are driven to school in cars or buses, and one child out of every 4 is overweight. Medical research has well established the fact that a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity three days a week can reduce incidents of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and hypertension and improve mental health and cardio-vascular fitness (Case Study No. 14, National Bicycling and Walking Study, FHWA, 1992). 25
Active people are healthier than inactive people because exercise stimulates the immune system and increases the metabolism. The pollution that motorists inhale inside a car has been shown more harmful to them than outside the car.