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Pedal-Power Picks Up Steam in SD

June 8, 2010

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - With an eye to the oil disaster in the Gulf, cycling advocates in South Dakota and across the nation say pedal power is a great way to save resources and get healthier.

Over the past decade South Dakota has spent more than $8 million to build or improve more than 140 miles of bike trails, according to the state Department of Transportation. Amanda White, a bike commuter and a member of the League of American Bicyclists, says those numbers are impressive, but areas in the Pacific Northwest and in Europe still lead the way.

"We still have a ways to go to compare with some of the best bicycling cities in the country."

Portland, Oregon, boasts some of the best bike commuting stats in the nation, while South Dakota is still behind. In its recent state rankings, the League of American Bicyclists designated South Dakota as the 38th-most-bike-friendly state in the nation. White says the recent spill in the Gulf of Mexico has many people thinking about ways to cut oil use, and biking to work is a great place to start.

She says there are also great health benefits in biking to work just a few times a week.

"With three short bike trips a week, you can reduce your chance of heart disease and stroke by 50 percent."

The annual ranking of Bicycle Friendly States scores the 50 states on a 75-item questionnaire that evaluates a state's commitment to bicycling. Washington State was number one.

Glen Gardner, Public News Service - SD