1. Why Bike: The Many Benefits of Bicycling

This guide, provided as a public service, was first published in 2009, with many subsequent updates. For additional updates, or if you have questions, please contact us. To return to the portal page of the Tips for Bicycling Monterey County 20-section guide, click here.

Need motivation to bike, or to support others in bicycling? 

Check this list of 20 benefits!

Glenn Jacinto at SBP

The Salinas youth above experience the pleasures of biking in the Monterey County seat. They know there are multiple benefits of biking—including that it’s just plain fun!

20 Reasons to Bike

(Click blue or bold black text for links.)

  1. Even people who don’t ride a bicycle themselves benefit when more people bike. Among many reasons, bicycling benefits the earth. Bicycling helps reduce air, noise and water pollution. Bicycling is part of the mix in reducing carbon emissions.
  2. People on bikes are the eyes and ears of their communities, a sort of “Neighborhood Watch.” When bicycling, you see and hear things that people in motor vehicles cannot. Sometimes, a person biking turns out to be a lifesaver; see Bicycling Monterey’s post “Watchful Eyes” for examples.
  3. Communities are strengthened when more people bike, including because people get to know communities and develop personal connections. As South Monterey County resident Sean Roney put it, “On a bike, it’s really easy to spread goodwill, because everyone you interact with can hear you and see you. And that’s good for society too, because when everyone is friendly with each other, when you’re able to actually exchange ‘hellos,’ morale of all of society goes up.”
  4. 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. The League of American Bicyclists has provided breakdowns by Congressional districts of how bicycling benefits the American economy. For the 20th District, which includes Monterey County, California, click here. For other states and districts, click here. From the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, check out Economic Benefits of Complete Streets – SRTS – April 2014.
  5. People bicycling save cash-strapped municipalities when it comes to the cost of road repairs, since bicycles are far gentler on pavement.
  6. Improved public health is among other benefits of biking. Visit the People for Bikes website for statistics on bicycling–including health, economic, environmental, and other benefits.
  7. Pro cyclists Becky Furuta and Phil Southerland both speak about how bicycling can help manage diabetes.
  8. 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.
  9. People who bike 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.)
  10. On a bike, you can have more time to experience a place. You can avoid wasting time, and money, sitting in motor vehicle traffic or looking for parking spaces. And you can cover more ground than if you’re walking, which of course is a nice option too.  
  11. Biking gives you a fresh-air workout, and probably a better night’s sleep! That’s especially welcome for kids and others who’ve been cooped up in a car or plane for hours.
  12. Bicycling counter stress of travel through the physical and mental health benefits of biking. A King City resident reported to the Californian: “(Cycling)’s exhilarating. You get out there, get some fresh air, it’s a happy, healthy thing to do. [He] used cycling as one of multiple training methods to help him out of depression. [He] named his bicycle ‘Joy’ for the feeling he gets while riding…it worked wonders for me to combat depression.”  (See Ayrton Ostly’s story “World-class cyclists wow crowds as King City hosts Tour of California for first time,” Californian, 5/15/18.)
  13. Bicycling burns off calories. And that gives you more room to indulge at places ranging from farmers markets to sustainable seafood spots, at “best of” award winners, and hundreds of extra bike-friendly HER Helmet Thursdays places.
  14. On Thursdays throughout Monterey County, save money on lodging, educational and entertainment spots, restaurants, wineries, and related places just because you bike. That’s in addition to saving money on gas and parking! (Learn more about saving money by biking.)
  15. 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.”)
  16. Cycling or walking to school benefits kids’ classroom abilities.  Click here to learn more.
  17. American citizens can take advantage of bicycle commuter tax benefits.
  18. Need more reasons? Down in SoCal, the West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition offers this summary, “Why we need bikes.”
  19. 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.)
  20. Don’t just take it from me, see what others say too. Consider these 12 reasons to start using a bicycle for transportation. And not least of all, remember that 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,

as this 2-minute 2009 recording from KUSP acknowledges.

Have concerns about riding skills, safety, bike laws and such? See Bicycling Monterey’s section about that, which includes specific tips about children too.

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.

U.S. Army Captain and Mrs. Jerrod Adams find there’s nothing quite like the joys of biking! And their ride to Pacific Grove 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.

Lisa Hoch of Eussenhausen, Germany and Stefania Pietraszek cycling with their friends, the Besse family (Jacquelyn, Nicholas, and Lee).

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!

 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!”

Why do you ride?

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!

It’s not too surprising that enviro-minded Assistant Editor Kera Abraham of the Monterey County Weeklyfrequently bike commutes to work.

Where to bike

See “Where to Bike” in Monterey County, which 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. See California bicycle laws and personal safety tips, which includes tips on about trail etiquette.

As this local elder near Dennis the Menace Park demonstrates, the health benefits of cycling are many!

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