As lawmakers are scrounging to figure out how to nip and tuck local and state government budgets to save some cash, they may want to stop looking under the couch cushions and check out in the garage. According to a joint report from the Sierra Club, the National Council of La Raza, and the League of American Bicyclists, biking saves money. How much, exactly? In upkeep costs and fuel savings alone, cycling to work and school stands to save Americans $4.6 billion in 2012. And honestly, it’s just part of the story.
We already knew that bike commuting was a money-saver, but this figure is pretty shocking–particularly considering most of us think you’ve got to ride for miles and miles to see the cost-saving benefits. But the trips that people are switching out aren’t long treks. According to the report, the majority of trips people take on their bikes are just over two miles, which is only about a 15 minute ride. But it adds up.
This figure is pretty giant, but truly, it reflects just a portion of the money that cycling will save you; it only takes into account the cost of upkeep and maintenance for a car versus a bike. Factor in the lowered health care costs, both for riders, personally, and for employers (which saves everyone money), the cost of being able to forgo a gym membership, and the long-term health benefits of getting daily cardiovascular exercise, and you’re looking at a figure that’s hard to argue with. And yet, bikes still capture so little government funding.
The report, which was released for Bike Month (which you still have a week of! Dust off your steed and ride to work tomorrow!), is full of really great information about exactly how much Americans bike–and how much more we could be doing. You can see the whole mind-blowing document here [PDF].
Image: Rikard Stadler via Shutterstock