CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The default is powerful. Ask grocery store owners who influence your purchase by stocking certain items at eye level and at the end of aisles.
Ask software companies, who encourage downloading add-ons by defaulting the settings in that direction.
Ask large employers, who default employees into a 401k plan for retirement savings, rather than asking employees if they want a 401k.
And ask city planners, highway engineers, and zoning officials, who can influence health and behavior every day by designing our cities and streets to encourage or discourage active transportation. What is your default transportation "choice" every day?
According to national data, half of the four trips taken daily in an average household are three miles or less. This trip is very comfortable on a bike --- in fact 85 percent of all bike trips are three miles or less. Such a trip can burn up to 300 calories, even at a modest pace, and cost up to $3.75 to drive in an SUV according to AAA.
However, only 1.8 percent of these trips are ridden on a bike! Trips of a mile or less encompass 27 percent of all daily trips, yet 62 percent are taken in a vehicle. One mile is a very comfortable distance to walk, can burn up to 100 calories, and costs roughly 75 cents in an SUV according to AAA.
I save more than $1,000 annually in transportation costs (not to mention the health care cost savings) by walking, riding, and using transit rather than driving my seven-mile round-trip daily.