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Although, gas prices have decreased significantly since the $4.02 average that drivers were paying in early May, people are still feeling the sting of higher energy prices and, at least partially, acting accordingly. In a sign that the higher gas prices are taking a toll on the economy, a new government report finds that in May, Americans spent at the weakest pace in 20 months.

And according to local bike shop owners, people are turning to old faithful: the bicycle. An article in yesterday’s Trenton Times — which includes a quote from GMTMA’s Executive Director Cheryl Kastrenakes —  discusses the noted increase in bike purchases and bike repairs in recent months, as well as an uptick in bike commuting and carpooling. Charlie Kuhn, who owns Kopp’s Cycles in Princeton, noted that he saw the increase right after gas prices rose in April.

The price of a gallon of regular gas hit $3.86 a month ago in the Trenton area before falling back to $3.67 last week, according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report. A year ago, the national average was $2.74.

GMTMA’s Bike to Work Week, which was in May, drew four times as many signups as two years ago, and our carpool connection service at saw a 25% uptick in May as well.

Hopefully folks will realize the myriad benefits of bicycling to work, including cost savings, personal and public health, air quality improvement, and others. A Dutch study last year found that cycle commuters provide their employers with an economic advantage by requiring fewer sick days each year and enjoying better overall health. Other research has shown that bike commuters are happier and less stressed than those who drive or take transit. At rush hour, your bicycling employees may get to work faster and with fewer unexpected delays. Businesses who adopt bicycle commuting programs for their staff can also reap a wide variety of benefits, including:

  1. Increase worker productivity: Fit employees are more alert, more productive, perform better and more efficiently.
  2. Improve employee health.
  3. Lower health care costs: healthier employees can reduce health insurance costs.
  4. Reduce parking cost.
  5. Reduced carbon emissions.
  6. Reduce turnover: Employers who appreciate workers’ personal needs have less employee turnover.
  7. Supporting bike commuting is less expensive than an in-office fitness facility.
  8. Improve work/ life balance: Bike commuting can be substituted for the gym, saving employee’s personal time.
  9. Community engagement: Bicycles can be produced and maintained locally by local bike shops contributing to local job opportunities as part of a sustainable economy.
  10. Improve company image.

Readers, are you biking to work more? And if not, what could your community or employer do to make it more appealing for you?

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