Some big infrastructural changes are coming to St. Paul – and they’re all for those on two wheels.
As bicycling continues to grow in popularity for leisure, commuting, and everything in between, the city is taking steps to ensure riders get the most out of their surroundings.
According to the bike-sharing wunderkind organization Nice Ride MN, the city of St. Paul is tweaking a substantial development plan, slated to include 214 miles of new bikeways. 68% of these are going to be off-street, including a nearly 2-mile loop around the downtown area, and others will be prime for getting to pristine settings like Como Park.
So, as these changes come to fruition, let’s glance at five of the many reasons why more people are choosing to strap on a helmet and put rubber to the road on their 5-speeds.
BIKES: THEY’RE GOOD FOR YOUR BODY
Limiting the risk of heart disease is one huge reason to make exercise a daily thing; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pegs it as the number one killer of women in the United States today. The structure of a bicycle delivers that preventative low-impact aerobic exercise; it’s also fabulous when it comes to building muscle tone, without the heavier stress on knees, ankles and other joints caused by jogging
You also can’t shake a stick at the more cosmetic benefits to biking; according to a study found in Women’s Health magazine, a 135 lb. woman pedalling at between 12 and 14 mph for 60 minutes will burn around 488 calories. That’s a lot off the waistline, and at little impact when compared to running or walking.
THEY’RE ALSO FANTASTIC FOR THE MIND
There’s plenty of info out there about the benefits aerobic exercise has on physical health, but as it turns out, your brain actually stands to gain a ton, too. The American Journal of Psychotherapy reports biking, even at a slow to moderate pace, two to three times weekly, improved energy in study participants by 20% and decreased normal fatigue by 65%. What does this have to do with your mind? Well, as energy levels rise, your brain releases the chemical dopamine, which in turn generates even more energy. Biking; it’s basically an endless supply of self-generated human happiness fuel.
Well, more accurately, free, after spending a little cash on the right bike and safety gear. It’s no secret that gas prices around the country continue rising, and making cycling part of your lifestyle can make a dent in keeping your budget balanced. Environmental advocate the Sierra Club posits that, if each American adult was to park their car and make one, four-mile bike trip each week, we would collectively save around $2 billion in fuel costs. At roughly four dollars a gallon these days, the total savings lands somewhere in the $7.3 billion range.
This doesn’t even include parking costs; don’t get me started there.
All in all, that’s a lot of green for going green.
THEY PROVIDE QUITE THE CONVENIENT WORKOUT
Believe it or not, according to Business Insider magazine, about half of all Americans live within FIVE MILES of their school or workplace. That’s, at most, a roughly 20 minute ride each way at a normal cycling pace. Now, it’s a big step to all of a sudden park the car and bike to work every day, but for the more intrepid reader, consider this staggering stat; by biking between 7-10 miles each workday, you’ll obliterate around 3,000 calories a week.
AND…YOU DON’T NECESSARILY NEED TO OWN ONE.
There has been nothing short of a boom in new bike share programs in major cities around the country, which typically allow riders 30 to 45 minutes of transportation for a small annual fee. Nice Ride MN, which launched a bike sharing program in Minneapolis in 2008, is rapidly expanding its reach. In fact, by the middle of 2013, the organization announced that over 700,000 rides had taken the bike-sharing program out for a spin. The concept is as simple as it gets; check out a bike from a kiosk anywhere around St. Paul or Minneapolis, ride around, drop it off at any other kiosk when you’re finished.
So, next time you find yourself considering visiting us on four wheels on a beautiful day, double back and consider getting on your bike instead!