It’s time to put away the car keys and put on the bike shorts. Today marks the beginning of “Bike-to-Work Week,” which runs through May 20. Friday is earmarked as “Bike-to-Work Day” and the entire month of May is dubbed “Bike Month.” In an effort to lower greenhouse gas emissions, improve health, and save money on gasoline (and who doesn’t want to save money on fuel with today’s prices?), workers are being encouraged to become two-wheeled commuters.
The event is sponsored by The League of American Bicyclists, which promotes bicycling to improve health. According to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, seven out of ten U.S. adults fail to get in the recommended 30 minutes of physical activity each day, while over one-third of us are not physically active. With over 300,000 deaths due to obesity, biking to work could be a means to reduce this statistic. Moderate physical activity performed daily can reduce the risk of developing some diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers. Among other health benefits, it can also help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
The League of American Bicyclists says we should ride for the environment too. Automobiles in the U.S. emit almost one pound of CO2 per mile driven, while a bicycle emits nothing. Therefore, a bicycle commuter who travels eight miles a day round trip to work, can save approximately 2,000 pounds in CO2 gases per year. And with autos representing 31 percent of total carbon dioxide emissions, the bicycle is a great option for reducing greenhouse gases.
There’s also a possible tax benefit for employers too. Employers who have workers who ride a bike to work stand to get a $20 per month tax benefit per qualified cycling employee, as part of the Bicycle Commuter Act, which went into affect January 1, 2009. To see if you’re eligible for this tax benefit, check the IRS’s Employer’s Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits or speak with your tax accountant, as certain qualification rules apply.