Did you know that 40% of all trips are less than two miles? Your daily errands, ride to work, visit to a neighbor’s home, or dinner out is often closer than you think. With that in mind, May is National Bicycle Month, and a great opportunity to hop on a bike for fun or make it part of your regular routine. So why consider taking a ride this year? Let’s spin our wheels:

Bike For Your Health

Any physical activity can help your overall well-being, promote weight-loss, build muscle, and even boost your brain power and sleep cycles. So why consider bicycling? Cycling is a low-impact exercise that doesn’t require bearing weight down on your body. In one study comparing long-distance runners and cyclists, runners suffered 133-144 percent more muscle damage than cyclists. It’s an exercise that allows you to enjoy the outdoors, get some mental clarity, and is still an aerobic exercise that engages muscles throughout your body.

Bike For the Environment

You might have already adopted riding a bicycle as a way to reduce your carbon footprint, but if you haven’t yet, consider that bicycles eliminate the use of gasoline and other pollutants like motor oil that would otherwise be used by your vehicle. In fact, the energy consumed by a driver is at least 42 times more than that of a cyclist. Increases in bicycling by communities by frequency and length could save a minimum of 6 million tons of carbon emissions, making it an accessible means that you can make a difference for the planet.

Bike For Your Budget

If you are investing in a bicycle, you will have upfront costs for the bike itself and equipment. You can also consider bike share programs. But long-term, the more you work a bike pedal instead of your car’s gas pedal, you’ll have potential to save on gasoline. While those savings add up over time, you’re also saving some wear and tear on your vehicle. If you want to look at hard costs, consider one study sharing that U.S. bicyclists have saved at least $4.6 billion a year by choosing their bike over their car.

Bike For Your Relationships

Biking is great for groups. Whether you enlist your family, friends, or co-workers, or even if you’re looking to meet new people, riding together promotes bonding time and an opportunity to connect. Apart from good conversation, biking with others can help you stay committed to the activity because you’re expected to show up. Feeling tired? Get a dose of motivation from buddies.

Don’t have a bicycle? A quick buyer’s guide.

If you are inspired to start riding a bike more often but don’t have one, here are a few tips when you’re shopping:

  1. Select your type: First, consider the type of bike you are looking to buy that makes the most sense for your lifestyle and how you plan to use it. There are mountain bikes, road bikes, hybrid bikes, or city/commuter bikes. Mountain bikes are typically for more extreme cyclists who are riding on rough terrains. If you are considering a charity ride or gearing up for harder workouts, a road bike could be a good fit. Hybrids are a decent compromise between road bikes and commuter bikes.
  2. Read reviews on local bicycle shops near you, and ask friends for their recommendations. If you are looking for a certain type of bike, make sure the store specializes in those and that the sales staff is knowledgeable and helpful with questions you might have. And if you have certain brands in mind, make sure you comparison shop to understand the quality and prices.
  3. Customize it for you: You won’t be able to enjoy your bike or use it safely if it doesn’t fit! Adjust the seat height, saddle position, handlebar height, and reach.
  4. Ask for a ride: Don’t be shy about asking to take the bicycle for a test drive. You want to make sure you feel good riding it, and might want to compare different types of tires, brakes, handlebars, and more.
  5. Necessary Accessories: Be sure to purchase a helmet for safety, and you may also consider an air pump for your tires. If you’ll be biking on rough surfaces or long distances, you might also want a water bottle and water bottle cage to hold it. A bell is nice for communicating on the road, lights are available if you’ll be doing nighttime rides, and for extra fun, and depending on your type of bike, you might add on a basket, too. And don’t forget a lock to keep your ride safe!

National Bike to Work Day is May 18th. Share this article with a co-worker, and see if you can take the first step, or first pedal, to a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle.