The 1-Mile Solution

The idea is simple: Find your home on a map of Springfield. Draw a circle with a 1-mile radius around your home. Try to replace one car trip per week within that circle by riding a bicycle or walking. At an easy riding pace you can travel one mile on a bicycle in about seven minutes. Walking takes about 20 minutes at an easy pace.

For us flabby Americans this apparently sounds like a daunting task. Surely those hearty Dutch on their modern cycle routes routinely travel much farther. Marc at Amsterdamize publishes the latest statistics on Dutch use of bicycles as basic transportation. As commenter Dave points out:

I think one thing that’s interesting to note about those statistics, is that the average person in Nederland cycles 2.48km per day. That’s just over 1.5 miles. The thing to note about that, is that just about anybody can ride that much per day easily, no matter what kind of geographic location they are in (unless they live on a mountain). Just a trip to the grocery store, or to take your kids to school or go out for dinner, whatever. I can think of several handfuls of things that we do that aren’t more than 1.5 miles from our home.

And I suppose that’s the point – everyone can and does ride that much in the NL. I think in other places where people don’t ride as much, it’s important to get people to just *try* a 1.5 mile ride, and they’ll say “oh, that’s easy, I can do that.” and it removes this idea that cycling is hard work and you have to be in shape for it, especially to carry groceries or a child or whatever.

Anyone *can* do it, a lot of people just don’t know it yet.

Well, yes, the Dutch do routinely travel far and wide on their bicycles. But as the numerous videos I’ve linked to demonstrate (example), much of their cycling takes place close to home.

One mile is all it takes to get started. One mile is all it takes to begin making a real difference in your health. One mile is all it takes to begin making a real difference to your pocketbook.

One mile is all it takes to begin saving America.

Welcome to readers from VeloNews! You can read more complete coverage of the 1-mile Solution on its dedicated page. If you like the 1MS idea, please take ownership of it, and find a way to promote it in your area. Thanks!

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Comments 11

  1. Clyde Lunsford wrote:

    I recently put a gasoline assist engine kit on one of my bicycles. It’s legal to ride them in the bike lane in AZ at speeds up to 20 mph without license and registration. It’s great for those errands in the 5 to 10 mile range. I still prefer pedalling a bicycling when time allows.

    Posted 18 Dec 2008 at 1:31 pm
  2. Andy Cline wrote:

    Clyde… I suspect those conversions are going to become increasingly popular.

    Posted 18 Dec 2008 at 1:56 pm
  3. TT Nutritionista wrote:

    Around here, I see too many people open the garage door, pull out the SUV, and drive 200 meters to the mailbox, only to turn around and drive home. And it’s not just a winter thing — they do that year-round.

    If you really want to see the worst in people, check out the handicapped parking space at your local grocer or Walmart. Half the folks using these spaces have a tag because of some family member who isn’t on the trip at the time. I hate to be mean this time of the year, but lots of people who could use the exercise think it’s their birthright to park as close as possible to the front door.

    Question for Clyde: how efficient are those engines? Doesn’t a lawn mower engine put out ten times the exhaust as a car? What we need is an electric bike, but decent power will cost you around ten grand.

    Posted 31 Dec 2008 at 10:10 am
  4. Chris DeSalvo wrote:

    I found this an extremely compeling way to participate in our carbon footprint reduction. Based on EPA numbers a gallon of gas emitts 19.4 lbs of carbon. In 2007 the average automobile averaged 20.2 miles per gallon.
    We report the carbon offset of the cyclists using our logging diary. Keep riding your bike.

    Posted 31 Dec 2008 at 3:06 pm
  5. Andy Cline wrote:

    Chris… Cool site. I added a link.

    Posted 31 Dec 2008 at 3:43 pm
  6. Coy wrote:

    I had read one study (I think in Australia) that said electric assisted bicycles were THE most efficient motorized transportation in the world, period. This helped move me to buy a $297 clunky elec. assisted Mongoose from Walmart & love it. It makes me giggle going up-hill!!! I try to help it by pedaling all I can & am getting about 20 miles range. If you need, you can pedal all the way home. I blew a fuse going up the big hill in Branson from the Landing to hwy 65, so I try to keep it from working that hard anymore.

    Posted 02 Jan 2009 at 3:20 pm
  7. oldyeller wrote:

    hmm…sounds a lot like what clifbar has been doing for the past couple years, save for the mileage difference:

    the end thought, of course, is getting more people on the bikes. so right on to all of yous.

    Posted 02 Jan 2009 at 7:14 pm
  8. Andy Cline wrote:

    oldyeller… This is certainly not an original idea. I’ve merely given it a name and a link. And I’m promoting it.

    Posted 03 Jan 2009 at 11:01 am
  9. Carlton Reid wrote:

    Anything that gets people to try bikes is good, whether it’s the 1 mile solution or the Clif Bar 2 miles.

    I’ve done a fair few articles on on ‘isocrones’, the tech name for drawing distance circles on a map. It’s an idea being extensively trialled in London, with signage of walking distances to visibly demonstrate to people how long it will take to walk to destinations (ie not as long as they might think).

    I agree completely with Andy’s ‘shower?’ comments and normal bikes in normal clothes. This is majored on in the new Bike to Work Book, a 50 page extract of which is here:

    I also wrote an article for the British Guardian newspaper questioning the sense of those bicycle advocates who place the requirement for workplace showers above all other cyclist-friendly measures.

    Posted 04 Jan 2009 at 4:17 am
  10. Andy Cline wrote:

    Carlton… Thanks for the links. And just FYI, my spam filter holds anything it thinks has too many links. Sorry for the slow moderation.

    Posted 05 Jan 2009 at 3:32 pm
  11. Natty wrote:

    Coy: Actually, the plain, old human assist {e.g. pedal} bicycle is the most efficient transportation machine man has invented.

    There have been many studies demonstrating that trips in the range of 5-8km (3-5 miles) are more efficiently accomplished {in general} by bicycle or on foot. Unfortunately there is another pile of studies demonstrating that North Americans are only willing to walk 30-50% of the distance {Canada: 500m; USA: 300m} of people in Asia or Europe {1+km} … even to catch public transport.

    Leaving the SUV in the garage a little more often would not just benefit the environment, but it might have an amazing impact on health care and our individual quality of life.

    Posted 11 Jan 2009 at 2:22 pm