When I bike to work, I find that it really clears my mind. I arrive at the Frances Perkins Building refreshed, rejuvenated and ready for the day’s challenges. People who cycle to and from work often report feeling happier, healthier and more productive. I know that’s true for me, and it’s why I was thrilled to strap on my helmet today in recognition of D.C.’s Bike to Work Day and National Bike Month.
Biking to work is not only good for the mind; it’s good for your body too. According to the City of Copenhagen’s 2012 Bicycle Account, Copenhagen residents who cycled to and from work every day saw a 30 percent decrease in mortality (over the course of more than a decade) compared to those who chose a more sedentary lifestyle. And the Centers for Disease Control here in the United States estimate that moderate physical activity, like biking to work, saves 5-12 percent in annual health care costs.
Cycling is also a winner economically and environmentally. In 2013, AAA concluded that it costs nearly $10,000 a year to own and operate an average sedan in the United States. By comparison, most sources put bike costs between $350 and $1500 annually. Each year cars and trucks travel more than 38 billion miles on the roads, accounting for 30-40 percent of ozone pollutants, according to Clean Air Partners. Even factoring in manufacturing, cycling still has one of the smallest environmental footprints when compared to other forms of transportation.
Last year, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association estimated that nearly 14,000 D.C. residents participated in its annual Bike to Work Day. I am committed to ensuring that it’s easy for Department of Labor employees to join them this year, which is why I am happy to announce today that as of June 1st, Labor Department employees throughout the country are eligible for a $20 per month subsidy to cover cycling-related expenses. This idea was actually raised by an employee named Rachel Goldberg during one of our Town Hall meetings, and I’m thrilled to be able to turn her idea into action.
We are committed to making cycling to work an affordable, easy and enjoyable option here at the Department of Labor. Given the benefits to health and happiness, we hope more employers and their employees across the nation choose to do the same.