SAN FRANCISCO, US – As gas prices climb to record highs, more Americans seem to be abandoning their cars and biking to work to save money at the pump. This week, as cities across the country celebrate National Bike to Work Week, advocates are promoting bicycle commuting as a way to trim transportation costs, get in shape and help the environment.
"Every additional person who rides their bike to work would start reducing our dependence on foreign oil immediately," said Tim Blumenthal, who heads the Bikes Belong Coalition in Boulder, Colorado.
Cycling to work is just one way Americans are seeking relief from skyrocketing gas prices.
People who normally drive to work are riding public buses and trains, working from home and carpooling with colleagues. "People are starting to look for fundamentally different ways to travel," said Bill Wilkinson, executive director of the National Center for Bicycling and Walking in Bethesda, Md. The soaring price of fuel "prompts people to really think about where they live and how they get around."
Bike shops nationwide are seeing more customers who want to buy new bikes or repair old ones to commute on, said Fred Clements, who heads the National Bicycle Dealers Association in Costa Mesa, Calif. "They have seen a surge in interest from the public about riding bicycles as a way to reduce the impact of high gas prices," Clements said. "People that already have bikes suddenly realize this would be a great way to save money."
About 20 million bikes were sold in the United States in 2005, one of the industry’s best years ever, and retailers are optimistic that escalating gas prices will lead to record bike sales this year, Clements said.