By Matt Walthour
It’s that time again, are you ready this year? Have you been looking for a reason to dust off your bicycle? Well, time to get air in those tires, but be sure to do a safety check on your bicycle before you hop on. Check to see if the brakes work, check to see if the chain is lubed and is moving freely, is the seat the right height? Your bicycle can be your new source of freedom, not to mention all the health benefits. Why am I making all kinds of hype about your bicycle? Not only do I love bicycles myself and enjoy seeing people riding them, but May is National Bike Month, so what better way to celebrate pedaling your two wheeled friend.
Officially Bike-to-Work Week 2013 is from May 13-17. Yes, that is five days of commuting to work, not so bad, but if you think it’s too much, just do Friday May 17, which is officially Bike to Work Day and what better way to kick off the weekend? How about a little family time with the kids? Friday, May 8th may be your day, which is officially Bike-to-School Day.
Are you a bit nervous about commuting to work? Are you curious as to whether you can make it? What will be the safest route? What do I wear? I may have a few answers and tips to some of these questions and more. Not only is commuting to work great for the environment it also has great health benefits, one of which will keep you much more awake and aware at work!!!!
As individuals here are a few ideas for overcoming bike commuting excuses or fears:
I’m out of shape
• Ride at an easy pace; in a few months you will be in a lot better shape.
• Ride your route on a weekend to find the easiest way to work.
• You will improve your fitness level when you become a regular bike commuter.
It takes too long
• The average commuter travels at 10 mph; the more you ride, the faster you will become.
• Trips of less than three miles will be quicker by bike.
• Trips of five to seven miles in urban areas may take the same time or less as by car.
It’s too far
• Try riding to work and taking mass transit home or have a friend pick you up, then alternate the next day.
• Ride to a coworker’s house and carpool to work.
No bike parking
• Look around for a storage area in your building or office.
• Stash your bike in a covered, secure place such as a closet or even your office.
• Formally request that your employer provide bike parking or lock it up outside.
My bike is beat up
• Go to your local bike shop and let them know that you are commuting and have them tune up your bike.
• Make sure that your bike is reliable and in good working order before you ride.
• Most commuters don’t shower at work; ride at an easy pace to stay cool and dry.
• Ride home at a fast pace if you want a workout; shower when you get there.
I have to dress up
• Keep multiple sets of clothing at work; rotate them on days you drive.
• Have work clothes cleaned at nearby laundromats or dry cleaners.
• Pack clothes with you and change at work
• Fenders for your bike and raingear for your body will keep you dry.
• If you are at work, take transit or carpool to get home; ride home the next day.
• Take transit or drive if you don’t have the gear to ride comfortably in the rain.
The roads aren’t safe
• Obey traffic signs, ride on the right, signal turns, and stop at lights.
• Wear bright clothing.
• You are at no greater risk than driving a car.
• Wear a helmet every time you ride.
I have to run errands
• Bolt a rack to the back of your bike or a basket to the front to add carrying capacity.
• Make sure that you have a lock to secure your bike while you are in a building.
• Allow extra time to get to scheduled appointments and find parking.
I hope some of these ideas and/or pointers will motivate you to try commuting to work. It is a great form of exercise and can help alleviate some stress.
As with every year, The National Ride of Silence is a ride to remember and show respect for people who have been killed or injured while cycling, to raise awareness that cyclists are on the roads and to ask that we all SHARE THE ROAD. This year’s event will take place on May 15 at 6:00 PM sharp inside the gated community of Bonita Bay. Non residents may participate as well, but must email a day prior. All information can be found on www.rideofsilence.org.