The Two-Mile Challenge That Could Save the World

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Looking for a simple way to do your health, your pocketbook, and your planet some good in 30 minutes or less?

Try the 2 Mile Bike Challenge.

Did you know that 40 percent of everyday travelling in the U.S. involves trips of 2 miles or less? Thatís what the Federal Highway Safety Administration says. All those trips to the grocery store, the bank, the coffee shop or restaurant, the mall, and yes, even the local fast food drive-thru really add up.

Weíre not talking about small numbers here, either. Letís say that your own car use is about averageĖthat means you drive about 12,000 miles per year. 40% of that is 4800 miles. If your car averages 18 miles per gallon for city driving, thatís about 267 gallons of gasĖthatíll cost you well over $1,000 at current prices.

If you and your waistline donít agree about itís current or future expansion plans, that 4800 miles you travel in your car may have an even bigger personal cost in terms of lost opportunities. Walking those 4800 miles would burn a good 480,000 calories, or 137 pounds worth of fat. But that would take an awful lot of time. Biking those miles would still use up enough calories to burn off about 45-55 pounds of fat in a year, and even at an easy pace of 10 mph, it would take you only 9 hours per week.

Of course, itís probably not practical to do all your short trips on a bicycle. But this doesnít need to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Every mile you can do on your bike (or on foot) will helpĖand you wonít just be helping yourself. The FHSA says that, in the United States alone, there were 250,851,833 registered passenger vehicles in 2006 (theyíre still counting last yearís). It doesnít take a lot of imagination or a PhD in math to see that if we all do even a small percentage of our mileage on bikes or foot, it can make a huge impact on problems like air pollution and global warming.

Here's a link to the 2 Mile Challenge Website. It has a handy map gizmo that lets you put in your address and get a map that shows everything within a two-mile radius of your home; it also can help you find safe riding routes, get info on bicycles and accessories, and hook up with fellow bikers. Youíll be surprised at how easy it is to incorporate riding into your daily travel plans.

So, what are you waiting for? Go forth, and ride your way to good health, financial independence, and a healthier environment!

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I think this is a great idea! It's just that I'm a little afraid of the drivers. A lot of them don't respect the bikers. Report
2 miles is not so far- the market I ride my bike to is well within range and my yoga class that I tram to, is just out of range! Not so long ago, it was a hard slog for me to ride from the market with full panniers of fruit n veg...yay fitness!
I get confused between km's and miles, but I am pleased Australia is included in this site! Report
I like the idea and want to participate. But most of the time my driving is for two teenagers. I will have a hard time espeically convincing my daughter to ride home. I don't know if she will want me to pick her up at the school, because that might not be too cool and she will not want to do it on her own. I can hear the refusal in her words in my mind. Then my son he is in his first year of high school and I know he will not want me to ride down to meet him on a bike and can't exactly trust him alone. He has a tendency to do the wrong things. Then there is the problem of having to buy a half decent bike. We don't have that kind of money just out and out spend. Most of my driving is for the kids and usually I group anything I have to do with them like going to the grocery store in one trip. I don't make multiple trips just for one errand. But I like the idea though.

I use too when they were in elementary school walk to there school. Sometimes I would do this twice in one day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. One round trip would add up to three miles. So if I did it twice it would be six miles in one day. Report
Great idea! I like it and have done a little riding like that when the weather was better. But I've always been paranoid about leaving my bike outside unattended. I know there are bike racks or other poles to strap it to, but it's still my paranoia. I guess the more successful rides I take like that, the better I'll be about it. I'm going to email the 2 mile challenge link to my husband. He might like the idea too. Report
This is a nice concept and would be even nicer if one were able to sugn up! Report
I must be on the right track. I ride my bike to work every day when the weather is nice and walk when it gets cold or is raining. I haven't figured out how to attach my umbrella to my bike yet! It really is ridiculous to get into a car for a few blocks. It's hard on the car and it doesn't even get warmed up but a person walking or biking does. Report
Great idea. I have repeatedly thought of strapping my bike onto my car just to do this but haven't gotten there, maybe this spring I will make it happen! Report
We have to drive several miles just to get to a paved road that my husband can ride his road bike on! Report
Sounds great. Report
I live in a city that is well designed for alternative forms of transportation. I already walk or bike to work (or take a bus when the weather is bad), and do a few errands en route. So I was not entirely surprised to see what falls within the 2 mile radius from my house - except to see that Target and my main grocery store are just barely outside the radius. I can't bike there in a straight line, so the distance traveled is more than 2 miles, but it's worth thinking about how I might make a few of those non-time-critical trips by bike.

One more thing: what I've seen when visiting relatives is that living in a place like my community can change your mindset. For example, when visiting one relative we drove to the downtown area in her town. After the first errand, we were ready to walk to the next one (a few blocks away) but she had fully intended to drive. Honestly, it was at most 3 blocks away and there was no physical, logistical, or safety reason to drive! It's just that she is so used to 'I have to drive everywhere in this town' that she never considers otherwise. If the Two-Mile Challenge could get people to think about that - the whole "park and ride [or walk]" mentality - that would be awesome! Report
I used to ride my horses into town and would run errands on them. People at first thought I was nuts but now more people are doing it because one it helps you and the animal stay in shape and helps eliminate pollution. Manure is a natural fertilizer for those who worry about that. I now live where the roads are too dangerous to ride the horses or even a bike. Report
I live in the boonies. It's 7 miles to the nearest...anything. Report
I'm really lucky in that respect - I live in central london so it's only a 1.5 - 2 mile to walk to my lectures in strand and my gym in waterloo, and places like soho and covent garden are within a 45 - 60 min walk from me. Walking is so much better because the tube, although convienent sometimes, would take just as long I think! Report
If I had a bike, riding at college would be perfectly fine. But riding where my real home is...Dangerous! I always wanted to just bike into town, but there is no shoulder on the road and the speed limit is 55 (with most people going well over that), hills, sharp turns...

Not a good idea for someone to bike. Driving on the road myself, I've nearly hit a couple bikers, since they are so difficult to see when they are (rarely) on the road. It's not smart of them, whether it saves the world or not - they could easily get killed. Hopefully one day, the city will put in a place for bikers alongside the road.

I wish I could take up this challenge, but I'll have to walk until I get a bike. :) Report
Riding a bike is my thing, even when I cant walk cause of my back I could ride. Ppl laugh at me when I go to the grocery store with my back pack n go food shopping, Report
It's a great idea. Wish it was practical for me. There are only 3 destinations I can reach in 2 miles is a 1) stone and masonry supply, 2) tire and brake repair (not much use on bike) 3) corner beverage and takeout place, which I've never patronized. But, should I move in the next year (possible) I will keep it in mind. Report
I wish it was safe to ride bikes here in Tanzania. Not only are the roads too narrow to accomodate bikes and cars, the vehicles here have no respect whatsoever for bikes. That is why I have a spin cycle...... Report
I would gladly ride my bike instead of driving to work, but it is not practical. I live 10 miles away from where I work and it is a 1000 feet change in elevation. I've done it before, but it takes an unreasonable amount of time to be practical. Report
Love this article! I've wanted to get a bike for years and have always talked myself out of it. I'm going to buy one as soon as the wheather breaks in Spring! It feels good having this "treat" to look forward to! Thanks! Report
It's harder with kids. If I was still single (and in shape), I'd ride my bike the 20 miles to work. At a good clip it would take just over an hour. The money I would save over not having a car would easily be 600 a month. Being single, there's not a while lot that I would need to buy that I wouldn't be able to transport on a bicycle. With a 5 year old, everything just takes longer. I need to get home quickly to relieve the baby sitter, I need to pick up 2 gallons of milk, bread, etc., for me, right now... a car is best. I'm currently in the process of selling my motorcycle. It's expensive, I can't share the joy with my family, it's a waste of gas, etc. I can do most of what I like to do on the motorcycle, on a bicycle. Report
Didn't realize how many places are within two miles from me, I guess this means I should really start biking to the gym. Report
Great information. I will share with my city dwelling friends. Report
I have been doing this for ages. I'm lucky enough to live within 5 miles of work and cycle pretty much all year to and from work. I also do most of my shorter trips by bike as well....library, dentist, produce market. It's good for the environment, it saves money and it's good for me. Report
It would be better on most people if businesses, cities etc would put up bicycle racks for people to use. In my town, the Y is the only place with bicycle racks to park when you get there. Report
i just need to get a bike! Report
I love to bike ride. I used to ride my bike to work when I was in Dallas. The only scary thing was the crazy people driving their cars. Report
I'm not brave enough to ride my bike in the area I live in - especially when doing errands - where would i put the stuff from my erranding? :D but I haven't owned a car in about 10 years - so I do tend to walk everywhere -and the grocery store that I like is about 1 1/2 miles from my front door.. Report
Love the 2 mile sight. It even accepts Canadian addresses, which us great since I'm in Canada. Checked my current address and also the addresses of a couple of places my husband and I were looking at to move to. Only one of them would be outside of the 2 mile radius for shopping, etc. It was closer to 3 miles. My four kids ( all adults and moved out now) said " Gee Mum you would just get a little more exercise each day!"
Spark has been so encouraging I went from being able to walk 3-6 blocks every few days to walking 2-5 miles a day. guess 3 miles wouldn't be a stretch then. I need to get a new bike anyhow and it would be one less reason to use the car. Report
I don't like to ride a bike but I do love to walk but even with living in the city, I am really too far to go anywhere by foot. I drive my son to school in the morning and the high school is almost three miles away. I do, however, pick up 3 of his friends so thier parents don't have to add to the cars on the road. My supermarket is about 4 miles away and I couldn't carry the groceries home anyway and so on. But, I do want to walk more so I am trying to figure something out. I drive an average of 15,000 miles a year so I would love to not have to use the car so much (I spent over a 100 dollars this weekend in gas alone!)
Well, we live about 1/2 mile from a small strip mall with a major grocery store, our medical clinic, our drugstore, and a variety of other specialty stores. Since joining SP, I have made it my practice to walk there, even when I am going for a pedicure (I usually follow the pedicure with an haircut so I wear the flip flops to go between to two places and my toes dry before I have to switch back to walking shoes) The service station where my car is serviced is just over 2 miles from home so I drive it in and walk home. When the care is done, I walk back. Everything else I do is 10 miles or more from home (work, singing, and swimming) Sometimes, I will swim on the way home to save the driving, but our regular workouts are 3 1/2 hours after work, so when I want a coached workout, I have to put the 20 miles on the care). All in all, I do my part for my body and the environment by walking when I can. Biking, I would love to do, but am currently out of a rideable bike. We were going to get bikes last year for Christmas, but somehow, we never got to it. Maybe we will this year...... My old bike needs tires and a comfortable seat. It is more a touring bike and not comfortable for me now that I am 25 years older than when I last rode in biking races. Report
Love this site, thanks for the link.

When we moved recently, we deliberately chose a house near the city center. I'm a mile from the library, the bank, and church. I'm two miles from the drugstore and 2.5 miles from the grocery store. I'm three blocks from the bus stop. The majority of my trips are made on bike or by bus. It took some planning, but it's worth it. I'm thinking of selling my car and just having one car.

We used to live out in the desert of suburbia and I can relate to what some are saying about nothing close. At my old house, the closest grocery store was three miles away over narrow curvy roads with no shoulder or safety zone to go if a car was driving crazy.

I didn't move because of the biking/bus issue, but it sure influenced my choice of location when we did move. Hopefully more people will start thinking in these terms when they move and we can reduce our wasteful fuel usage. Report
As a couple of others have said - life in the country is wonderful! No cars, no people, no pollution, no shops!

Sadly, cycling everywhere is just not practical for me. However, I save up my errands & do them all together when I go into town, rather than go in for shopping one day, Post Office the next day, hairdresser another day - well, you get the picture.

I walk for fun, though. Report
I want to do this sooo badly! My goal is to walk to work (about 4 miles each way). My problem isn't fatigue, it's time. I'm so pressed for time and to walk 4 miles will take so long! Especially when I drive to work in less than 10 minutes. 10 minutes hour and a half....yeah, 10 minutes! But, it's still one of my goals (by November 08).

I just finished walking 3 miles...I'm on my way :) Report
I am scared to ride my bike on main streets in my area some ppl look like the try to get close as the can with out hitting you the is a bike trail not for away with a groceries store and I have rode my bike there. my only am I saving on gas but i can tell i'm getting stronger i can now pedal all the way back home when I use to have to push the bike home the last half block or so. can't bring back much at a time but if i go for a ride 4 or 5 time a week that 4 or 5 times i can buy food. also If I need gas for the lawnmower instend of driving down to the station i but the gas can and the back of my bike and pedal away Report
Unfortunately, the only thing within my 2 mi radius is a Gas Station. It's not like I live in the middle of nowhere either. Just stuck in the middle of suburbia. It's not even a safe ride to the local park either. Report
i would love to try this, i think i would run instead of bike though Report
This would be ok if it were just me, but our roads are dangerous (no sidewalks) and I have 5 kids in tow. However, we have bike paths that lead to nowhere. Great for a safe ride, but not for getting errands done. Maybe it's time I contact the city about that.... Report
I can't believe it picked up my German address but its something I'll pass on to other families here! Great idea! Report
We live in a big city, so it is often easier for us to walk or bike than drive. We also have easy access to public transit and take advantage of that often. OK, more often than we should. :) I have started getting off a stop early and walking, which can add 1/2 mile to each leg of the trip. Report
Not to be a party pooper, but the 2 mile radius thing is usually more than 2 miles when you have to stick to roads and trails. If I were a crow, those outer areas would be 2 miles...

This IS a good idea, though. I walk the 1.5 miles to my gym and walk home when I have the time and when the weather is okay, and I walk to the nearby grocery store if I need a quick item or two. But there are some places I go that would not be conducive to walking and/or biking. Report
I live pretty much in the center of my city, and I walk or bike for most trips under about 4 miles. Besides the environmental concern and the exercise advantage, a trip that's under 2 miles is usually faster on two wheels or two feet, compared to fighting traffic and hunting for a parking spot. Report
I have been doing this challenge for a month and I have only had to refuel my car once since July 21st! I live in the city and 75% of my trips are within 2 miles. In addition to saving money it is a great way to destress. i love my Bike Report
I love this idea...I'm not sure how getting groceries for a family of 6+ to and from the store would work...especially if I have to take my little kids on their bikes with me and no bike lanes or sidewalks for half of it. We do lots of bike riding as a family. Not sure I'm ready for the trip to the store using bikes yet. Report
What a great idea! and motivating too. Report
This summer I have actually started walking to places near my house over driving. I don't live to far from where I work, and I would love to walk or ride my bike, but I always have a TON of stuff to take with me. Report
Great idea! I just got a new bike and it's amazing to see all the places that are just 2 miles away. StarBucks here I come! Report
I can't drive but am getting my temps so that I can eventually travel distances. I walk just about everywhere in town (or carpool if I'm short for time). I've been doing this for over a year now...I think all this walking has been one of the best things to happen to me...EVER! Taking a long walk feels so good, and helps calm my nerves. Imagine how much more peaceful the world could be if everyone just took a walk everyday. Report
A wonderful idea! But I live 10 miles from the nearest store. I will ride mt bike to check my mail though. That's a 4 mile round trip. AAAHHH life in the country! Report
This is a great idea, but there's nothing in my 2-mile, or 4-mile, radius. Well except for cornfields! Report
Wow! I am currently only able to walk short distances, and I use a wheelchair to go farther. I went to the site and mapped out my 2 miles, and it is pretty much my world.
I am focused very strongly on getting fit and strong, and I am going to keep in my mind the goal of gradually being able to walk that distance and opening up that world to me without my wheelchair! My doctor says it is possible, and you have given me a visual that I can really use. Thank-you! Report
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