My City Bikes Promotes Bike Commuting to Help with New Years Resolutions
A Nielsen survey shows that 37 percent of Americans list “staying fit and healthy” as a top New Year’s resolution. “Losing weight” is close behind it, at 32 percent. That’s not much of a departure from last year. And, sadly, we’ll probably see something else repeated in 2016: most people won’t stick with it. In fact, roughly eight percent will keep those resolutions throughout the year.
My City Bikes, a Palo Alto-based organization with chapters in San Francisco and the East Bay, hopes it can get more people to ride by encouraging them to combine two top resolutions: staying fit and saving money.
“Bike commuting is a trick that can actually make it easier to stick to a fitness and weight loss resolution,” said Sara Villalobos, a spokeswoman for My City Bikes. “By rolling exercise and transportation into one, people can save money and time, which makes it a health habit that is easier to achieve.”
In addition to recommending bike shops that specialize in helping novice cyclists, the company provides a smart phone app to help guide beginners. The MyCityBikes apps provide specialized information for different locations, such as the East Bay and San Francisco. It prompts a user to select whether they are riding as a family with kids or as a commuter, for example. It list streets with dedicated bike lanes, provides safety tips, and shows the mileage of bike trails. It also lists cycling events with times, dates, locations and contact information, such as the Alameda family ride, which is held from 10 to noon on the first Sunday of the month.
They are not the only organization, of course, encouraging more people to get into commuting by bike. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition also offers events and classes for novice cyclists, such as its “intro to urban bicycling” and other cycling courses for adults. Health and physician groups also encourage bike commuting because “moderate activity for 30 minutes per day is effective at reducing risk for diabetes,” said Matt Petersen, Managing Director of Medical Information for the American Diabetes Association. And, he points out, diabetes risk factors overlap with heart disease and cancer.
Bike advocates have long argued that the best way to get new people bike commuting—and therefore healthier—is with improved infrastructure such as the long-awaited protected bike lane on Second. Or getting cars completely off Market Street. And census data shows that, albeit slowly but surely, Bay Area investments seem to be working. It’s hoped the health of the city will improve along with it.
In fact, several of San Francisco’s supervisors, including Jane Kim, have cited the health benefits of cycling as a reason to support the Bike Yield ordinance. “We need to make it easier for individuals to get out of their cars and onto bikes,” said Kim.
Either way, “Hopefully this year more people than ever will resolve to make cycling and other active transportation options part of their commutes,” said Villalobos. “We want to help them stick with it.”