I've realized that, over the past two years, I have become exceptionally passionate about biking. I wasn't always like this. I mean, I always liked bikes, and used my bike to get around school very frequently in college, but I am now actively finding new ways to drive less by biking more.
It is not until you start to drive less that you realize just how silly driving looks. I was worried that I was just perceiving things incorrectly and that things weren't as simple as I thought, but in the most recent survey by the NHTS, 60% of all trips are under 5 miles. 76.7% of all trips are under 10 miles. None of these trips require a car. When you realize that you are burning more fuel warming the engine up and producing more pollutants before the catalytic converter warms up, just to spend a good chunk of the drive stopping at red lights and stop signs, you start to realize how much gasoline is being pretty much wasted.
Some researchers recently said that the primary reason why America is fat is because we eat 500 calories too many. They then decided that this therefore means that we are fat because we eat too much, because there's no way that your average person can burn 500 more calories each day by increasing their physical effort. Because apparently you'd have to exercise for an hour a day in order to burn enough calories, which nobody has time for.
There's plenty of good research that suggests that people who get more exercise are going to be healthier. Cholesterol goes down. Depression becomes less likely. Blood pressure goes down. You become less likely to develop Type II Diabetes, which is presently on track to become something that will afflict a majority of the population.
If you consider that we're eating 500 calories too many and that it's not actually that hard to burn those calories through a normal day's transportation needs on the bike, you start to realize that we can make the oil usage from a sizable chunk of our driving go away at no real cost beyond our present food consumption. Electric cars cannot make this promise, nor can hydrogen cars or hybrids or even public transit. Just by pulling the bike that you probably already own out of the garage and riding it.
I needed to go back to the NHTS survey because I was worried that I was just traveling less than everybody else and that it must be that other people have more elaborate transportation needs. Because, let me tell you, after I made the switch and got over the hump, it's been so easy with such clear benefits that I can't see why a person wouldn't do it. I regret that I didn't figure all of this out earlier.
Thus, Bike To Work Day is a day to get people to try it once again, to see if maybe this year will be the point at which you realize that you need to make a change. Not just for the environment or to ease traffic, but because it's the right thing to do.