Each time a road is widened, or a highway is built or a parking lot springs up, the planet loses a bit more of its green.
While green spaces count a lot toward beauty and enjoyment of life, they also have more practical uses, like absorbing carbon dioxide from the air and housing wildlife.
With the number of cars on the road increasing with each passing decade, though -- Americans now own 70 percent more cars than they did in 1955 -- building more roads and parking lots is a necessity [source: MSN]. To slow down the development of automotive infrastructure, it's necessary to reduce the number of automobiles that infrastructure is trying to serve. If enough people were to trade in daily car use for daily bicycling, they'd make a substantial dent in the traffic.
And the added bonus of decreasing automotive-infrastructure needs in favor of bicycle-infrastructure needs is that the latter costs much, much less. Per mile, a pathway for cars costs 2,500 times more than a pathway for bikes [source: UCF]. That would leave a lot more budget dollars for things like beautification projects, pollution clean-up and other environmental-action projects (not to mention health care and social services).
Up next, cycling can bring planetary health even closer to home.