Bike and Transit
Bike to Work, School or just for FUN!
Riding a bicycle can save you money, time, is a great form of exercise and can reduce environmental pollution. Consider bicycling to replace many of the trips we take in cars, like trips to the store when you only need a few things, visiting a friend’s house, or part of your daily commute to work or school. Currently, about 83% of Will County residents drive to work, 4% take public transportation, and 2.7% walk or bike to work (source: U.S. Census, American Community Survey 2011). From 2002 to 2008, the number of miles traveled in a year per Will County resident has risen from 7,900 to 8,300 (IDOT). Along with taking public transit, consolidating vehicle trips, carpooling, and bicycling this can be reduced significantly.
Economic / Financial
There are many benefits to taking more of your trips by bike or public transit, one of these being the potential financial savings you can earn by using a car less. Driving and car ownership cost you gas, tolls, parking, insurance, vehicle maintenance. Commuting time could be spent getting work done on a train or bus, or relaxing. Their are also additional costs of maintaining roads, highways, signals, traffic safety enforcement, and pollution to society. If possible, replacing your commutes with bike transit is significantly less expensive, and may already be an easy option if you have a bike appropriate route to work and own a bike.
One of the most immediate benefits of cycling and public transit use as opposed to driving is the impact to your health. Driving is a sedentary activity and long, traffic congested commutes leave you tired and less productive in general. If you are able to incorporate cycling, walking, or public transportation into your commutes this will have tremendous impact on your health even by something as simple as walking or biking the last few blocks from the train to work. Cycling is particularly useful for small commutes as well, and using a bike to go to the store or other small errands will give you much needed daily exercise, and fresh air and sunlight. Cars also create pollution to the general environment from emissions, noise, brake dust, and costs to the environment from disposing of older vehicles; this in turn affects health of society.
Biking, as opposed to vehicle use, can tremendously affect our environmental impact. Currently, 72 % of U.S. oil use is for transportation, mostly for gasoline. (source: energy.gov) Drivers impact the environment through pollution from emissions, noise, dust, street cleaning, resource impacts from fossil fuels used to power vehicles to the tons of materials that go into creating them, and end up at junkyards at the end of their useful life. Land impacts from cars enabling people to live further apart, and the roads, water, and costs to the environment of transporting goods and services to distant locations are another factor to consider. Cycling and public transit promote denser development around transit hubs, known as Transit-oriented Development (TOD) and bring with them the many positive impacts of denser urban living.
Making Cycling an Option!
There are many options for replacing many of your car trips with bike or transit trips. These vary from your regular work commute, short trips you take for errands, to trips for leisure to parks or to see friends, cycling can replace some, or many of these trips and accumulate many benefits to your health, wallet, and the environment.
Biking to Work
Replacing your daily commute with cycling or public transit (when possible) is one of the most effective ways to start seeing benefits right away as you will be instantly affecting your health, your savings will accrue within the first months, you will have time to relax or get work done on train or bus, and you will be mitigating impacts your car commute was having on the environment. Consider a few basic planning elements in advance. For cycling, make sure you have the proper equipment (sturdy lock, safety gear, bike repair tools, and proper clothing) and consider how you will store your bike at work and potentially shower, change, or clean up. The cycling community online and at local bike shops offers many basics as well as innovative solutions in terms of gear, and tips to coordinating your bike commute / changing clothes. The Active Transportation Alliance, which promotes bike and public transit use in Chicagoland is a good starting point for information.
For some, cycling may not be an option for replacing long commutes, but incorporating public transit may be! Metra, PACE suburban buses, and CTA in Chicago offer a wealth of information and tools online to making commutes by public transit. For instance, you can plan a route using the Regional Transit Authority’s online routing tool to see how you may combine Metra, CTA, and PACE to commute to work.
Errands and Trips Near Home
Many of the smaller trips you make in your area could be done by cycling – visiting friends or neighbors, taking children to the park, light groceries and shopping, lunch breaks, and many other short and medium length trips could easily be cycled rather than driven, and save you money and give you the added boost to your day from moderate exercise from cycling. Planning ahead to replace certain trips you make in your area is as simple as securing the right gear, and discovering suitable routes to take which are safe. It is advisable to stick to trails and low-speed side streets rather than roads where it is currently impractical to bike. The Forest Preserve District of Will County maintains an online viewer where you can browse trails near you.
View Forest Preserve District of Will County in a larger map
Remember to follow bike safety laws and be wary of the rules of the road; the Active Transportation Alliance provides a list of statewide laws pertinent to cyclists, but additional ordinances may exist in your local municipality regarding cycling, remember to cycle safely and responsibly.
The simple pleasure of riding a bike should not be forgotten! Riding a bike for exercise is an activity in itself – instead of driving places on off-time looking for things to do, burn a few calories riding around the neighborhood, one of many of Will County’s wonderful preserves, or exploring a new area. Riding for fun is the first step in choosing to bike when you have to take care of errands, and maybe get to work, and will make you happier and healthier. Riding in your area will make you well acquainted with which roads are suitable to ride on for commutes as well, and help you stay up to date with what is happening in your neighborhood – think of all of that you are missing from behind the driver’s seat. Riding with family regularly is a great opportunity to teach kids to be active and enjoy biking as well, and w great way to teach them the rules of the road for cyclists, and an opportunity to share stories about the neighborhood you may have grown up in. The Blue Island Bike Club provides an excellent guide for riding with various age children, and special bike equipment for the youngest children:
Where can you bike? - let your imagination take you...
- The grocery store
- The movie theatre
- The mall or shopping plaza
- The park or forest preserve
- The church of your choice
- To a friend's house
- The playground or soccer field