1. Why Bike: The Many Benefits of Bicycling
Need reasons to bike? Scroll down for a list of 20 reasons!
Or just ask these Salinas youth. They know the joy of biking in the Monterey County seat, including its many flat, wide streets, often in low traffic areas. They also experience the multiple benefits that result from simply getting on their bikes to have fun!
U.S. Army Captain and Mrs. Jerrod Adams agree. There’s nothing quite like the joys of biking! And their ride to Pacific Grove likewise includes plenty of flat terrain, which makes towing their children in the bike trailer a piece of cake for these Naval Postgraduate School Cycling Club members.
Why bicycle in Monterey County?
First, because you are in a bicycling friendly place. The signs are everywhere! From the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail to discounts from businesses and organizations–just because you bike in the county!–it’s clear that Monterey County encourages biking.
Most of the popular coastal routes are virtually flat, with occasional gently rolling terrain. As the youth above and others know so well, the Salinas Valley, too, has lots of flat terrain. That means easier biking, whether you consider yourself in good condition or not.
The Besse family knows it’s very worthwhile to bring their bicycles around the Monterey Bay from their Scotts Valley home to enjoy Monterey County’s bike/multi-use paths. Local resident Jeff Perez climbs this neighborhood hill easily.
But if you’re not up for hills, know that most coastal bikeways are flat!
20 Reasons to Bike
As do local residents, many visitors of all ages, shapes, and sizes want to bike in Monterey County, because they can:
- Experience nature’s beauty and other local features up close and personal. (Visitors and residents discover that experiencing an area via bicycle is a key to better cities too.)
- Have more time to experience the area, instead of waiting in traffic.
- Be an eco-tourist–reduce carbon footprint, oil runoff into Monterey Bay, and noise pollution. (See the City of Monterey’s Transportation page to learn about the environment impact of cars.
- Get a vigorous fresh-air workout, then better night’s sleep (especially welcome for kids and others who’ve been cooped up in a car or plane for hours).
- Counter stress of travel with physical and mental health benefits of bicycling.
- Get to know local communities, and build stronger community connections.
- Burn off calories, and have more freedom to indulge at the farmers markets and local restaurants, such as sustainable seafood spots, “Best of” award winners, and hundreds of extra bike-friendly HER Helmet Thursdays places.
- On Thursdays throughout Monterey County, save money on lodging, educational and entertainment spots, restaurants, wineries, and related places. That’s in addition to saving money on gas and parking. (Learn more about saving money by biking.)
- There are more worthy reasons too, such as saving strapped municipalities on the cost of road repairs, since bicycles are far gentler on pavement. Consider these 12 reasons to start using a bicycle for transportation.
- Biking benefits the economy in a variety of ways. Tourism is one way; check out the Pew Charitable Trusts website post, “Bicycling Tourists Are Older, Wealthier, and In Demand,” by Marsha Mercer. You can see more about how biking benefits the economy in “How bicycles bring business” infographic published by Momentum Magazine. Here is a report on economic benefits to our local (20th) Congressional District, provided by the League of American Bicyclists; click here. From the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, check out Economic Benefits of Complete Streets – SRTS – April 2014
- Even in winter weather in colder parts of the country, people like this young woman realize the health and economic benefits of biking are too good to miss out on! (If you’re biking in Monterey County in winter, see “Rain, cold temps, and more.”)
- Pro cyclists Becky Furuta and Phil Southerland both speak about how bicycling can help manage diabetes.
- Biking can help keep one young in many ways. Even the oldest bicyclists in this British study reported in the New York Times did not show their age when it came to such things as levels of balance, reflexes, metabolic health, and memory ability.
- And did you know: Cycling or walking to school benefits kids’ classroom abilities. Click here to learn more.
- American citizens can take advantage of bicycle commuter tax benefits.
- Need more reasons? Down in SoCal, the West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition offers this summary, “Why we need bikes.”
- Mark Martin’s TED talk “Bicycling for Life” includes the reasons given by many youth and adults. Click here, then start at 9:16 for their reasons, or listen to the entire video to hear Mark’s own ideas. (Thanks to Devian Gilbert, a Velo Club Monterey member, for that video link.)
- Visit the People for Bikes website for statistics on bicycling–including economic, environmental, health, and other benefits.
- When bicycling, you see and hear things that people in motor vehicles cannot. People on bikes are the eyes and ears of their communities, a sort of “Neighborhood Watch.” Sometimes, their presence is a lifesaver! See Bicycling Monterey’s post “Watchful Eyes” for examples.
- Not least of all, another benefit of bicycling is the sheer joy factor.
The joy factor
was a big reason for the founding of
the Bicycling Monterey site and projects,
If you’re thinking, yeah, but I’m thinking about some reasons not to bike: Click here for the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments “Issues and Answers” about bike commuting.
Have concerns about safety? Refer to Bicycling Monterey’s California bicycle laws and personal safety tips section, which includes tips for kids and adults.
Jim Willoughby of Pacific Grove, pictured below, demonstrates how he keeps his health in check.
“I’ve gotta admit, Jim, my wife was right! The doc loves how my blood pressure is dropping these days. I tell him it’s not just the exercise of my new commute to work, it’s also because I’m not stressed out by traffic!”
Watch a 1 minute, 20 second video, “If I Ride,” from People for Bikes for inspiration–along with their new video, “Bikes Make Life Better.” Then share a comment at the end of that post about why you ride. Add your voice to that of others who are speaking up for bicycling in America!
Where to bike
See “Where to Bike” in Monterey County. The Monterey Peninsula has developed terrific bike paths. These are part of the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail, a bikeway about 29 miles long that stretches from Castroville to Pebble Beach. The “Where to Bike” section of this guide includes specific route tips, along with links to maps and other resources, including reports on rides–from locals’ and visitors’ perspectives.
Joshua Santos, an East Bay five-year-old,
about to set off on the Steinbeck Centennial Trail,
one of the off-road bike paths so great for children developing their cycling savvy.
Coastal Trail Rules and Etiquette
Please observe bike/multi-use path guidelines. Click here for an outline on the City of Monterey’s website; once there, you’ll see “Remember these guidelines.” However, it’s easy to miss the additional, more detailed “Rules for Coastal Trail Users“; click on the down arrow to expand the page.
Also see California bicycle laws and personal safety tips, which includes more about trail etiquette.
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