Most environmentalists recognize that a significant amount of carbon emissions come from the transportation sector. Although electricity production accounts for the largest share of greenhouse gases, contributing 33 percent in 2011, cars, trains and other modes of traveling accounted for 28 percent.
What is remarkable is how easily we could reduce that number simply by relying more on bicycle travel. Half of all Americans live within 5 miles of their job, which is a reasonable distance for a bike ride. Yet 77 percent of workers commute by driving a car alone, and another 10 percent carpool. This means that only about 13 percent of people get to work using a more environmentally friendly approach such as riding a bike, taking public transportation, or walking.
In an effort to promote ridership, the League of American Bicyclists has declared May as National Bike Month, and the week of May 13-17 is National Bike To Work Week. The goal is to get people off the freeway and onto the bike lane, and prove how easy and convenient this method of commuting can be.
If more people use a bike to travel, the impact on climate change could be substantial. Bicycling emits no greenhouse gases, and provides a great form of exercise, which would have a positive effect on public health as obesity rates would decline, reducing people's risk of problems like heart disease and diabetes.
If you're one of those Americans who live within 5 miles of work and you own a bike, consider riding it to work next week. You'll be doing your part to reduce pollution, and you'll experience the healthy benefits of a green lifestyle as well.