Trading your car for your bike for all or part of your commute can save you cash, increase your fitness, and help the environment. You may be surprised at how easy it can be.
If you drive a car, you've probably been affected by the high cost of gasoline and the ever-increasing congestion on our country’s roads. Here’s one possible solution: Consider commuting by bicycle. Biking to work, at least part of the way or part of the time, offers many benefits.
Increased fitness and health. Plus, you’ll no longer need to make time before or after work to exercise.
More money in your pocket. Save on gas, tolls, and parking.
A better environment. Automobiles produce toxic substances that pollute the ground, air, and water.
You can do it
You can overcome just about any reason you have for not being able to bike to work. Some of the most common include:
I’m out of shape. Practice easing into it by taking short local trips. By riding regularly at an easy pace, you will gradually be able to bike faster and farther.
It’s too far. Then ride just part of the way, or part of the time. For example, drive to work with your bike, then ride home. The next day, ride to work and drive home. Or combine riding and mass transit by riding part way and taking the bus, train, or subway the rest of the way. Check with your local mass transit authority to make sure you can carry on your bike. Or ride to a friend’s house and carpool the rest of the way.
I have to dress up. Take a spare set of work clothes on the days you drive and leave them at the office. Or roll up your work clothes and take them with you; change when you arrive.
There are no showers at work. It’s cooler in the morning, and riding at an easy pace in the right clothing should keep you from needing a shower. Alternately, check with a health club close to work about a shower-only membership.
Obviously, the first thing you’ll need is a bicycle. Visit a local bike shop for a tune-up; a helmet if you don’t have one; cycling clothes and supplies, such as spare tire tubes and a portable tool kit; a saddlebag; a water bottle; and a bike-mount air pump. You will also need lights and reflective clothing if you plan to ride at night, so that motorists will easily see you. The shop’s employees also can help you plan safe routes, and make sure your bike fits properly and is in good repair. If you are new to exercise or have not exercised in a long time, consult your health care provider before starting a new exercise routine. You can obtain a GPS system and also use a website called MapMyRide.com to obtain directions for your commute or favorite ride.
Rules of the road
Bicycles are vehicles, and you should ride and treat them as such on the roadways. You must follow the same road rules as motorists. You must also use proper hand signals when you stop or turn.
Joining a local bicycling club is a great way to learn to ride safely and to have fun while doing so. You’ll find lots of advice online, as well. When you commute by bike, the benefits are numerous. You improve your health, your finances— and the environment.