Tuesday, February 17, 2009

How to Commute by Bike. (And like it.)

Just Some Facts:
  • The average person loses 13lbs their first year of commuting by bike.
  • Just 3 hours of bicycling per week can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke by 50%.
  • Each Rush-hour commuter spends an average of 50 hours a year stuck in traffic.
  • 25% of all trips are made within a mile of home.
  • 60% of all trips are made within two miles of home.
  • 50% of the working population commutes less than five miles to work.
Commuting by bike doesn't sound like a bad idea, does it? So Here's a few tips if you're just getting started, or maybe toying with the idea of going by bike.

  1. Choose the right bike. The right bike generally has two wheels, but it's shape and design will depend on your commute. If you live in New york city and ride on the busy streets, then a road bike may not be your best option; you may go with a single-speed with a much more upright and aware riding position.
  2. Get the gear. You may have looked funny wearing a helmet when you were a kid, but you look dumb without one now. Gear means a helmet, a lock, gloves, and depending on your commute, might entail some riding shorts, as well. Also, you may want to look at getting a spare tube and a set of tire levers to carry around with ya! (You'll also want to know what to do with them.)
  3. Get a nice rack. (ha.) Either get a rack or plan on carrying a backpack or messenger bag designed for biking or commuting. Carrying your normal messenger bag on a bike can be very, very annoying. Trust me, they always find a way to swing in front on you. I use a Chrome messenger bag, and I know Adam uses an Ergon, and we're both very happy.
  4. Plan your route. Knowing your route beforehand will minimize anxiety in the morning when you leave, especially if you know how much time it takes you. Remember, you're not in a car anymore. Take advantages of bike paths, pedestrian bridges, and even sidewalks when necessary. Take into account as well where hills and narrow shoulders are on any roads you will be traveling!
  5. Plan for weather. This one is simple. The weather channel is a favorite of mine, but having a rain jacket in your bag can also help when you forget to check.
  6. Be aware. Watch out when you're riding. Ride on the right-hand side of the road, never against traffic. Try to stay off sidewalks, too. They're more dangerous than you think. This may mean that on sunny days when you're riding to work with the sun in your eyes, a pair of sunglasses might help!
  7. Don't give up. Sometimes it's easier to get in the car in the morning. Start slow, going to work one day a week or so. Nobody ever said anything worthwhile was easy.

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