Right about here, where two protected bike lanes (also called cycle tracks) cross in Downtown Atlanta, I crossed my 1,000th mile on bike in 2018 (my goal is to ride a ton of miles — 2,500 — this year).
Shortly thereafter, I read the new CDC report that only 20% of women/28% of men nationwide get the recommended amount of physical activity each day. The numbers are worse in the region of the USA where I live. Not getting enough exercise can lead to debilitative and life-threatening diseases that are often preventable. With healthcare increasingly expensive and inaccessible, not to mention the negative quality of life impacts of disease, it behooves us to try to do what we can to avoid or reduce problems down the road. Safe public spaces to walk and ride a bike can make a difference. Plus, for the record, physical activity like bike riding makes you feel good.
Note: For years, I rode bikes with my girls to school* and camp** in the suburb-city where I live. A mile there. A mile home. I’d go back and forth twice (morning and afternoon), ending up with four miles a day. That’s 20 a week/80 a month. It didn’t take long, it wasn’t hard, and it added up. When I started going into the City of Atlanta every day five years ago, my goal was four miles a day on Belty. I did that for a long while before I started creeping up to six or eight or ten miles on additional excellent infrastructure where I felt safe. Now, I average about fifteen miles a day when I’m in Atlanta — I use it as my transportation as I’m researching stories (I just submitted my latest for potential publication — fingers crossed). It has become second nature to me.
Moral? Just start, and see where it goes. My book, Traveling at the Speed of Bike, may help.
* Less than 1% of children ride bikes to school in the “family friendly” suburb-city where I live, but we did it anyway.
** The camp, at a community center, had no means for releasing a child on bike at the end of the day (since no other kids rode bikes there) and I had to negotiate a release system each and every year.