MADISON — On Thursday, September 22, millions of people around the globe will come together for the annual World Car-Free Day to highlight alternatives to vehicle travel. Given the sprawling layout of our communities and the hustle and bustle of daily life, it’s difficult for many to live car-free. But even small swaps can reap big benefits for your health and the health of the environment.

“While it’s unrealistic for many people to completely live car-free, the more you walk and ride your bike, the healthier and more fit you’ll be,” says Sam Weis, an avid cyclist and communications director of Clean Wisconsin, the state’s largest environmental advocacy group. “And those are healthy choices for the environment, too.”
 
Consider these human-powered transportation facts:

  • About 40 percent of all car trips are shorter than two miles. That’s equivalent to a 10-minute bike ride or a 30-minute walk.
  • According to Trek Bikes, biking two miles back and forth to work each day will burn 36,000 calories a year, and the average person loses 13 pounds the first year of bike commuting.
  • The four-mile pedal-powered trip also keeps 51 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.
  •  If just one person of every 1,000 went four miles a day by bike instead of car, we’d save 429 million gallons of fuel annually.
  • Prefer foot power? A short, four-mile roundtrip walk to the store keeps about 15 pounds of pollutants out of the air; plus, walking burns 100 calories per mile.

“Even short trips can have a big impact on your health, your wallet and the environment,” says Weis. “Next time you have to run a nearby errand or make a short trip, why not try it car-free?”