Infographic Of The Day: How Bikes Can Solve Our Biggest Problems

There's tantalizing data suggesting that biking could go a long way to solving America's obesity crisis. And much more.

Americans are getting fatter every year, and weight-related diseases kill us at a rate second only to tobacco. There’s been lots of proposed solutions to that problem--rejiggering the food pyramid, advertising campaigns, soda taxes. But the simplest of all might just be bikes. Yes, bikes.

If you live in the suburbs where any bike trip would be riding along a highway, that probably sounds totally insane. But this infographic produced by Healthcare Management Degree actually provides several data points that suggest that bikes might not be so ridiculous after all.

A few stats immediately leap out at you: For one, 70% of America’s car trips are shorter than 2 miles, which translates to about an easy 10-minute bike ride:

The stats really get eye-popping in the second half of the panel above: 13 pounds in a year, just from riding to work?! The second panel then looks at the obesity rates in various European countries and compares them to the percentage of trips taken by bike:

Obviously, correlation isn’t causation, but given how much weight you lose by riding to work, the data is pretty compelling. Then again, could Americans really commit to the cultural shift that biking all the time entails? After all, it’s not like our gas prices are going up to $8 a gallon, as they are in Europe, where gas taxes are huge. If you’re trying to fight cars as an American politician, you’ll be out of work fast. Especially since, as of this moment, only a tiny .6% of all errands and trips in this country are made via bikes.

But the last panel does actually suggest that change isn’t totally impossible. Portland, which is covered with relatively new bike lanes, has 6% of its population commuting by bike; ridership across the country is growing.

There are suggestions that the government takes this trend serious: Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has been making noises about making biking easier and safer across the country. But nonetheless, the degree to which motorists seem to despise those on bikes is pretty amazing--in New York’s own fights over bike lanes, the backlash has been vicious. How do you make cyclists safer without making drivers feel like they’re under attack? The answer to that question could hold the key to our biking future.

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96 Comments

  • penotti

    I'm Dutch, and ride my bike to work every day, which will lead up to
    over a 100K a week. That's not counting the rides to see friends, go out for dinner, etc. My bike broke this morning and i'm in a total panic!

  • susannaschick

    What we're doing in LA with CicLAvia and all the fun group rides seems to be working quite well. By showing people how much FUN cycling can be, they get converted the easy way. They see their friends out having a good time and want to join them. Then they discover that cycling to work isn't so hard, and gets easier each time. That's how it happened for me, anyway.

  • Richard

    I enjoy driving and cycling for fitness and fun. I just wish that most drivers were more tolerant of cyclists when they're on the road. Every time I ride my bike (primarily on rural roads) I have at least one idiot pass me on a blind hill, or curve or pass me at the same exact time that someone is going past in the other drive lane. People all too often just won't give up 10 or 20 seconds to respect the life and safety of others.

  • beenwiser

    so true richard. its incredible selfish. in the city, drivers all too often will buzz by me so close i could reach out and touch their car. within a block, they're usually lined up behind a row of cars that are driving the same speed as me or stopped at a red light. its absurd. use your brakes, wait a few seconds to pass, and you might save a life.

  • Lindsay Manahan


    my best friend's aunt makes $70/hr on the laptop. She has been out of work for 6 months but last month her check was $8183 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Read this site..ur1.ca/6055q..

  • Lindsay Manahan

    infograph of the day............ my classmate's sister-in-law makes $84 hourly on the laptop. She has been fired for 7 months but last month her income was $9078 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Go to this site NuttyRich.cöm

  • Robyn Williams

    Not a panacea - the silver bullet solution is old thinking. I gave up a driving licence 12 years ago and refer to having a 'suite of mobility options', which includes walking, cycling, public transport, ride-share...includes taxis or pay for delivery which I can afford from what I save by not driving. I recently moved to a regional town which has minimal public transport and have a driver's licence again to extend my options. This means that I can use work vehicles, and borrow or hire a car on a needs basis. I won't be buying a car though. 
    Making cycling attractive and useful is a critical component in shifting our attitude to making the best choice from a range of alternatives on a needs basis.

  • Michelle G

    Jsingerarslibris...There are bike commuters in Chicago who could answer every  one of your questions.  I am 58, when will I be elderly?  Biking is how I did everything when I lived in Chicago.  My transportation budget was zero.  I miss that.

  • Chuck Myntti

    Suburbs are the biggest problem. When we redesign our world to make sense in a post carbon consuming environment, we will have smaller communities and yes they will be agriculturally self sufficient... Bikes will be the way around town... cargo bikes with trailers. 

  • Ralf T. Dog

    That sounds like fun. The problem? Where I live, we don't call them bike riders, they are called, "Road Kill."

    I wish I could ride to work (No I don't, I already walk to work. My office is in my house and is 30 feet from my bedroom.

  • beenwiser

    yes that is ONE OF the problems, and an important one for sure. any thoughts what a solution might be?

  • Judith Singer

    Hmm. . .", 70% of America's car trips are shorter than 2 miles, which translates to about an easy 10-minute bike ride".  Is that 2 miles from home to destination, then another 2 miles home (eg 20 minute round-trip bike ride)?  Or is it from home to destination, then another destination, then another destination, then another, and then home (eg 50 minute round-trip bike ride)?  Where do you put the groceries?  The tool chest?  The bookcase you just bought?  Where do you put your kids?  What do you do on rainy or snowy days?  What do you do when you're elderly or disabled?  Of course more bike riding would improve overall health and lessen air pollution, but it's not a panacea - there is no such thing - and a simplistic approach like this is annoying.

  • beenwiser

    "Where do you put the groceries?  The tool chest?"
    in your basket, saddlebags, etc

    "The bookcase you just
    bought?"
    in your zipcar

    "Where do you put your kids?"
    in a bike seat, or on another bicycle

    "What do you do on rainy or snowy
    days?"
    wear appropriate attire, or use a different form of transport

    "What do you do when you're elderly or disabled?"
    something else. just because MORE people should bike doesn't mean EVERYONE should bike

    did you read the article or just the headline?