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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 09-28-07, 08:12 AM   #1
ChrisAN82
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Help! Commuting benefits...

I work for a large corporation which is trying to be more environmentally friendly. They asked for suggestions and I proposed giving some sort of compensation to employees who ride their bikes (i.e. monthly cash bonus, extra vacation days, etc...). I got a positive response back from them and they are asking me to back up my claims with quality reputable sources. That's where you guys, and gals, come in. I want to provide the best data possible and I know the people in this message board are totally capable of providing it.

Here are the claims I made and that will need to be backed up:

1. People riding bikes to work lowers pollution by having less cars on the road.
2. Employees who bike to work are more productive at work.
3. Bike commuters take less sick days and go out on disability less because they live a healthier lifestyle.

Those are the benefits I came up with. However, if you can think of any others, and back them up, feel free to let me know. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 09-28-07, 08:27 AM   #2
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1) is obvious. Figure out commuting distance/gas mileage = amount of gas burned.
2) Might be hard to prove outright, but research shows that people often feel better after exercise if they go at it pretty hard due to endorphins or other feel-good chemicals being released. Also, biking probably helps wake people up better than driving. Additionally, if you live in an area with crappy traffic you could argue that biking alleviates driving-related stress. EDIT: You do, I just saw the Orange County location. So there you go.
3) I don't know if those precise statistics exist, but you can definitely show that exercise leads to better health and higher quality of life. The difference is greatest for older people but everyone benefits from exercise. From a purely anecdotal perspective, I've always noticed that I get sick less when I'm exercising regularly, and less severly, although I wouldn't claim a definitive mechanism there.

Here is a link to exercise==feeling better
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/1565230.stm

And one for general health benefits from Mayo clinic, including health and mood
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/chronic-pain/AR00017
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Old 09-28-07, 09:00 AM   #3
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The alertness is a huge factor. I laugh every week at our staff meetings at all the yawning and head-bobbing that goes on. Cycling makes me alert and keeps me in a positive mood. That positive mood translates into a more positive, aggressive work-style. The only place I loose efficiency is from having to eat more and more often and spending time reading and posting to Bike Forums when I should be working! Shhh! Don't tell anyone.
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Old 09-28-07, 09:02 AM   #4
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I'd send an email to League of American Bicyclists which promotes the same reasons for biking to work.
I'd be surprised if they can't cite the sources for you.

For number 1, I'd ask your HR for an average commuting distance if they have it. Take that number and figure out the amount of carbon an average employee puts into the atmosphere. There are plenty of calculators on the internet as well. You can simply figure out what you'd save in carbon and use that number.
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Old 09-28-07, 09:30 AM   #5
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Thanks for the help so far everyone. You've provided some great places for me to start. Keep it coming!
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Old 09-28-07, 09:34 AM   #6
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3. 'as many as 250,000 deaths per year in the united states are attributed to lack of regular physical activity'

that quote comes from this paper
http://circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/full/107/1/e2

you can also reference the surgeon general's report on physical activity and health too.
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Old 09-28-07, 10:08 AM   #7
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3. 'as many as 250,000 deaths per year in the united states are attributed to lack of regular physical activity'

that quote comes from this paper
http://circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/full/107/1/e2

you can also reference the surgeon general's report on physical activity and health too.
Wow...interesting link.
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Old 09-28-07, 10:19 AM   #8
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Every gallon of gas burned produces 19 pounds of CO2.

How, you ask? A gallon of gas only weighs 6 pounds.

Well, the Carbon in the fuel combines with TWO Oxygens. If the average gallon of fuel contains 2421 grams of Carbon, that makes 8877 grams CO2. Subtract out impurities in the combustion material (about 1%) and you're left with 19 lbs. (A little bit over, but we'll round down.)

If the average commute is, say, 8 miles...and the typical American gas guzzler gets 20 mpg, then one round trip equals 15 fewer pounds of CO2 emitted that day. Multiply that by 100 employess, for one whole year, and that's 37,500 pounds of CO2 not emitted. (Assuming a 250 day work year.)
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Old 09-28-07, 10:30 AM   #9
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now if i dig around my basement for a, uh, fortnight i can probably find the greenpeace report where they calculate that 30% of all co2 released by a car over it's entire life occur during its manufacture. now, those numbers were for the mid-90s, but the math and research that went into was pretty thorough and it's all outlined.

this actually harps back to the some thread a week or so ago where someone pointed out that a hummer's total emissions are actually less than a prius'. this is because the manufacturer-estimated lifespan of a hummer is waaay longer than a prius, so that manufacturing pollution gets spread out over a longer time.

not sure if that stat would help you anyway. after all, the objective is not to get people to go car free, after all.
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Old 09-28-07, 10:32 AM   #10
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When I was driving a car to work, I consistently got 3 or 4 colds a year (from my kids). Every year, without fail. Since riding daily to work, I have yet to get a serious cold. I feel them coming on but my immune system kicks their butts all up and down and I never really feel more than a bit of fatigue for about 8 hours, usually about 2 days after one of the kids comes down with symptoms.

I've got the immune system from hell now. I haven't missed a day of work for being sick in the 3 years I've been commuting. If I start to get sick, it is gone the next time I ride.

In addition, my blood pressure is down from a high of 138/105 (and climbing) when I started to 115/70 when I gave blood last month. My cholesterol was never horrible, but it was creeping towards the warning mark. It and all my other bloodwork are now all on the bottom of nominal range. Does anybody not think that's going to save a SHIPLOAD of health-care money down the road, and keep an employee productive for many more years?

On a non-measurable front, I'm a hell of a lot happier. The exercise releases chemicals that naturally enhance your mood. I arrive at work very alert and ready to go. When I drive I don't really wake up for a couple of hours after sucking down a bunch of caffeine.
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Old 09-28-07, 11:01 AM   #11
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For references, see
http://www.travelsmart.gov.au/employ....html#benefits
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Old 09-28-07, 11:39 AM   #12
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How about pointing out the parking advantages? If they're a large employer, then they've probably got a large parking lot that's full of cars. How many bikes can fit into one car space?

In many larger urban areas, there are actually laws that require larger employers to encourage their employees to use alternative forms of transportation. I know that such a law exists here in Seattle, and I believe it exists in other places as well. The companies generally get some sort of a tax break if they have more than a certain percentage of their employees using alternative forms. That break goes up as more employees participate.
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Old 09-28-07, 12:39 PM   #13
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This is another program for you. http://www.bicyclebenefits.org/ It seems to be catching on in NY and other places.
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Old 09-28-07, 12:54 PM   #14
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How about pointing out the parking advantages? If they're a large employer, then they've probably got a large parking lot that's full of cars. How many bikes can fit into one car space?

In many larger urban areas, there are actually laws that require larger employers to encourage their employees to use alternative forms of transportation. I know that such a law exists here in Seattle, and I believe it exists in other places as well. The companies generally get some sort of a tax break if they have more than a certain percentage of their employees using alternative forms. That break goes up as more employees participate.
Not just the spaces...if they are paying for the employees' parking, there's a huge cost savings.
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Old 09-28-07, 01:12 PM   #15
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Hey, wait!!! Don't submit this yet.

If they want to be more environmentally friendly, then state the other end of your carbon footprint, too. Besides reducing pollution, you reduce oil/gas consumption. No doubt that's good for the environment--you preserve limited natural resources, reduce oil well digging/construction, and you eliminate the pollution from making gas from oil.

I'd put this at #2, right behind reducing pollution.

I'm not sure if reduced parking provisions helps the environment, unless they are need to convert more green space to parking spots.
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Old 09-28-07, 01:37 PM   #16
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Increased exercise -> healthier employees -> reduced health care costs
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Old 09-28-07, 02:11 PM   #17
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Quote:
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hummer's total emissions are actually less than a prius'. this is because the manufacturer-estimated lifespan of a hummer is waaay longer than a prius,
Wonder who funded that one.
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Old 09-28-07, 02:33 PM   #18
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Perhaps say something about the obesity epidemic and how this will help combat that.
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Old 09-28-07, 02:52 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frymaster View Post
3. 'as many as 250,000 deaths per year in the united states are attributed to lack of regular physical activity'

that quote comes from this paper
http://circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/full/107/1/e2

you can also reference the surgeon general's report on physical activity and health too.
Each year over 40,000 people are killed in car-related accidents so there's a better chance that you'll make it to retirement than one of your sedentary co-workers
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Old 09-28-07, 02:57 PM   #20
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http://www.mwcog.org/commuter/Bdy-bike10.html
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Old 09-28-07, 08:07 PM   #21
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Speaking for myself:
Commute 1/2 time. 2 days a week for 33 mile R/T for 3 months.
Weight down 12 lbs. (need to eat better)
BP down from 135/95 to 128/83 (Safer range, dropped meds with Dr. approval)
Choleterol down from 216 to 186 (Warning zone to safe zone)
I am 42 with 4 kids, hope to be around a long time.
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Old 09-28-07, 08:35 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frymaster View Post

this actually harps back to the some thread a week or so ago where someone pointed out that a hummer's total emissions are actually less than a prius'. this is because the manufacturer-estimated lifespan of a hummer is waaay longer than a prius, so that manufacturing pollution gets spread out over a longer time.
whew! that reeks of bad research. a simple Google search revealed plenty to refute such a ridiculous claim.



Read this from a report by the Pacific Institute:

'The CNW Marketing Research, Inc.’s 2007 “Dust to Dust: The Energy Cost of New Vehicles
From Concept to Disposal” caught the interest of the media and the public with its claim that a
Hummer H3 SUV has a lower life-cycle energy cost than a Toyota Prius hybrid. Closer
inspection suggests that the report’s conclusions rely on faulty methods of analysis, untenable
assumptions, selective use and presentation of data, and a complete lack of peer review."

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof"- Carl Sagan
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Old 09-28-07, 10:13 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by ChrisAN82 View Post
Here are the claims I made and that will need to be backed up:

1. People riding bikes to work lowers pollution by having less cars on the road.
2. Employees who bike to work are more productive at work.
3. Bike commuters take less sick days and go out on disability less because they live a healthier lifestyle.

Those are the benefits I came up with. However, if you can think of any others, and back them up, feel free to let me know. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
All the above.

Plus, we are often full of endorphins in the morning, when our co-workers need a positive work environment the most.

"Hey, good morning, Emma! What a beautiful outfit you have on! And you smell great, too."

"Tom, man, how was your weekend, Dude? How was that concert you and your wife went to?"

Oh, and, you're happier, which has untold dividends...

...and think of how you inspire people to exercise when they see you boogie-ing around...
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Old 09-29-07, 12:31 AM   #24
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I think you might get further with the reducing road congestion argument than you would with the pollution aspect - especially if you're presenting to people who are going to be driving.
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