What if there was something you could do to improve your health and fitness, save money, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, improve air quality, and reduce your carbon footprint, all at the same time—would you do it?
Maybe that’s a bit of preaching to the choir here, but that’s the idea behind The 1-Mile Solution. As Andy Cline explains,
The idea is simple: Find your home on a map…Draw a circle with a 1-mile radius around your home. Try to replace one car trip per week within that circle by riding a bicycle or walking. At an easy riding pace you can travel one mile on a bicycle in about seven minutes. Walking takes about 20 minutes at an easy pace.
Now I know Legally Speaking readers generally put in their miles every week, but the concept here is a little different. According to Two-Wheeled Wonder, an article published in the March/April issue of Sierra, “nearly half of all trips in the United States are three miles or less; more than a quarter are less than a mile.” As the Sierra article notes,
Short car trips are, naturally, the easiest to replace with a bike trip (or even walking). Mile for mile, they are also the most polluting. Engines running cold produce four times the carbon monoxide and twice the volatile organic compounds of engines running hot. And smog-forming (and carcinogenic) VOCs continue to evaporate from an engine until it cools off, whether the engine’s been running for five minutes or five hours.
Discussing the Impact of the 1-Mile Solution. Andy Cline cites research from Professor Chandra Bhatthat reveals that “the transportation sector accounts for about one-third of all human-generated greenhouse gas emissions. Within that sector, travel by personal vehicles accounts for nearly two-thirds of those emissions.”
With the 1-Mile Solution, Cline proposes a simple means for each of us to reduce the impacts associated with these short trips—once a week, make a trip make a trip of one mile or less from your home by bicycle, or on foot, rather than by car. As Cline observes,
You start out small. You commit to one trip per week by foot or on a bicycle within a 1-mile radius of home. One mile is not far. At a modest pace it’s a 20-minute walk (great exercise!) or a 6-minute bicycle ride. The idea, of course, is that we’ll all see how easy one mile is and then begin replacing two trips per week. Then three. And soon enough, we’re routinely walking and riding within the circle.
Some of us are already making our short trips by bike; others have yet to make the change, or have friends and family who make all of their short trips by car. Because it’s so easy, the 1-Mile Solution is the kind of change that almost anybody can incorporate into their lives. As the year draws to an end, and a new year begins, that’s something to think about.
Wishing all of you a very happy new year,
(Research and drafting provided by Rick Bernardi, J.D.)
This article, The 1-Mile Solution, originally published on Dec. 31, 2008 on VeloNews.
As I noted last week, I’ve been working on updating my website lately, and it’s finally online, with an all-new look, and all-new content. You can check out the changes to my website at bicyclelaw2.wpengine.com, including a new blog which will be updated with new content regularly. There’s another exciting change to my website—Velologue, my new blog about bicycle culture in all its aspects, is now online. You can link to it from bicyclelaw2.wpengine.com, or you can access it directly at www.velologue.com. I hope you will visit both sites regularly.