Sustainable Choices

Bike, Walk, or Take Public Transit

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Carbon Impact:
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Money Savings:
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Health Helper:
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Put on the walking shoes, pull the old bike out of the garage, and pick up a route map at your local transit agency. It’s time to leave the car in the driveway for a change. On public transportation you can relax while you travel rather than stress behind the wheel. Walking and biking double as exercise, keeping you fit while getting you where you need to go. Try out these alternative modes of transportation and see which one you like best.

Tips & Tricks
Think Safety. Whether you are walking, biking, or riding the train, it is always important to stay safe. Lights, reflectors, bright clothing, and a helmet are all essential bike safety features. Prioritize your well-being when you’re out on the road. Remember that bikes are bound by the same laws of the road as cars, so be cautious and courteous, and keep careful watch of your surroundings when you’re on an active street. The average car weighs over 3,000 pounds , while an average person weighs under 200 pounds.

Get a map and schedule from your local transit agency. Keep them with you at all times. This will make it much easier to navigate the transit system during situations when you don’t have a computer at hand.

Buy a transit pass. Most agencies sell discounted monthly or yearly passes. Take the plunge and buy a pass—you’ll save money and commit to making transit your first option.

Get some comfortable walking shoes. It is worthwhile to invest in some comfy shoes if you’re going to be doing a lot of walking. Don’t torture yourself with blisters.

Look for a used bike. Garage sales, classifieds, or are good places to browse for used bikes.

Equip your bike with a basket or saddle bags. This way you can easily carry groceries or other cargo with you.

Speak up for transit, walking and biking. Tell your local government officials that you support transit funding and walkable, bikeable street design.

Web & Print Resources

Neighborhood walkability quiz:

Find a trail:

Map a route or search for routes contributed by others:

Bicycling: (California) (San Francisco Bay Area)

Plan a bicycle ride:


Personal Story
This material originally appeared in the article “The Bicycle Diaries” by Bill Gifford (November 23, 2005)

Last month I went to Amsterdam for a friend's birthday party. I was amazed: Everyone rode bikes, everywhere. I saw 80-year-olds pedaling along beside young mothers with two and even three small children perched on various parts of their bikes, and dads trundling off to work in business suits and nice Italian shoes. The Dutch, I later learned, conduct 30 percent of all their trips—to work, for errands, socially—by bike. In America, that figure is less than 1 percent. We drive 84 percent of the time, even though most of our trips are less than 2 miles long. More than three-quarters of us commute alone by car, compared with just half a million (way less than 1 percent) who do so by bike, according to the 2000 Census. As a "committed" cyclist—another loaded adjective—I'd always tut-tutted these kinds of statistics.

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Fun Facts

In 2001, less than 15% of students between the ages of 5–15 walked or biked to or from school, down from 48% of students in 1969.

About 6 million Americans commute to work by transit on a daily basis.

Nearly 3 million Americans walk to work.