According to the NYC Department of Transportation, in 2000, only 11% of New Yorkers rode a bicycle to work, while 25% drove and 53% took public transportation. While this number is steadily increasing, cyclists are still a minority here in NYC. Why do so few New Yorkers ride a bike?

No doubt many potential bike riders are scared off by the perceived danger bicycling in the city’s harrowing traffic. However in the years between 1996 and 2005, only 6% of transportation fatalities were bicyclists. Compare that to the 49% pedestrian fatalities or 38% vehicle fatalities. Statistically, you are safer riding your bike than you are walking or driving. Now, with the help of PlaNYC transportation initiatives and the continuation of the New York City Bicycle Master Plan, bicycling in the city is becoming safer by the year.

Now that you know bicycling is not as dangerous as you thought, it is time to start turning to the myriad benefits bicycling has to offer.

Environmentally Sustainable

Aside from walking, bicycling is the only emission- and pollutant-free method of transportation. The layer of smog above our fair city is testament to the fact that cars, buses and subways produce thousands of tons of carbon, all going into the air we breath. In addition to damaging the environment, this pollution is hazardous to our health, causing a rise in asthma and other related health problems in children growing up in the city.

Economically Sustainable

Bicycling is one of the cheapest ways to get around the city. The initial cost of a bike can vary. If you get a used bike, the cost can be as low as $75 or $100, whereas new bikes can range up to the thousands. After this initial cost, riding a bike is free. Compare that to transit fares or the ever-rising price of gasoline. A bike pays for itself within months, a definite advantage in these tough times. Don’t want to buy a bike? Look into one of the bike share programs coming to the city.

Good for you!

For those of us who don’t necessarily enjoy going to the gym or who cannot afford the membership fees, riding a bike can be a great way to stay in shape. Riding a bike can burn anywhere from 250-500 calories per hour depending on how fast and far you ride. Without devoting extra time or money, bicycling keeps you fit and healthy every day.

New York City is becoming increasingly bicycle-friendly, so get out there and join the ranks of earth-friendly and fit cyclists! Before you start cycling though, be sure to check out these safety tips so you can stay as safe as possible while you enjoy cycling around the city.

By Bekah Holloway