DOES $4 A GALLON for gas have you reconsidering your transportation options? Are you looking for a simpler (read: cheaper) form of transportation? Have you thought about a bicycle?

Maybe the current gas crisis will force us to use some of our own stored energy and get more Americans walking or pedaling.

Perhaps we'll be inspired by cities such as Amsterdam, where cars and cyclists peacefully co-exist on the road.

One thing's for sure: With today's energy costs, we need some options. If you're sick and tired of the high price of gas, here are five reasons why you should consider biking as your main source of transportation:

1. You'll get healthy exercise.

Cycling is a great cardiovascular exercise that can be performed at low, moderate or high intensities.

You can greatly improve the health of your heart, improve your cardiovascular capacity and increase your endurance with an old-fashioned bicycle.

Besides that, cycling is fun. You can go at your own pace, burning a little or a lot of fuel (calories) in the process. In our beautiful city, there are numerous scenic routes to try, such as Martin Luther King Drive or Kelly Drive.

2. You'll avoid rush-hour gridlock.

The morning and evening rush hours have to be the most dreaded and stressful times in the commuter's day. Have you ever noticed cyclists outpacing the cars during rush hour?

Also, if you're on a bike, you can travel along paths that cars don't have access to, making your commute even quicker. Wouldn't it be nice to breeze by all those gnarly traffic scenes while simultaneously reducing your stress?

3. You'll save lots of money.

Pedal power will save you countless dollars. Depending on your commute and how much gas your vehicle requires, you could save $3,500 to $8,000 dollars annually. Just think about it: The cost of filling up a mid-sized vehicle is between $50 and $60 a week right now. That's $200 and up a month - thousands of dollars a year.

If you factor in car insurance and vehicle maintenance, the savings is even larger.

4. You'll help decrease pollution.

Another inconvenient truth may be that sky-high gas prices are here to stay. This fact alone may cause a lot more of us to go green. And riding a bike may be one of the best ways to support the green movement.

Bicycling's good for the environment because pedal power does not cause harmful pollutants to be emitted into the air, or use up the Earth's limited supply of fossil fuels.

5. You may shed some pounds.

If losing weight is one of your goals, biking may be just what the doctor ordered. A 140-pound person cycling at a light pace of about 10 mph can burn about 380 calories in an hour.

A 190-pound person cycling at the same level for the same time can burn about 531 calories.

A seasoned cyclist pumping those legs at 20 mph can obliterate 1,000 to 1,500 calories in one hour!

Putting it another way, a 140-pound person could shed about 3 pounds a month - 36 pounds a year - just by biking regularly.

If you are seriously considering bicycling as a daily transportation mode, you may want to contact the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia (www.bicyclecoalition.org), for support and information about local biking routes. *

Kimberly Garrison is a certified personal trainer and owner of One on One Ultimate Fitness in Philadelphia (www.1on1ultimatefitness.com).

E-mail her at

kimberly@1on1ultimatefitness.com. Her column appears each Thursday in Yo! Chat with her on her Daily News weblog, the Girlfriends' Locker Room, at www.girlfriendslockerroom.com. Her new podcast, "Philly Fitness and Health," is available for download every Thursday at www.philly.com.