Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bike to Work Week

Bleatings from EnviRambo.

You may be familiar with the saying April showers bring May flowers, but have you heard April Earth Month brings May Bike Month?

Since 1956, May has been recognized as National Bike Month. The third week in May is designated Bike to Work Week; and the third Friday of May is Bike to Work Day. Bike to Work Week started yesterday. Events are being hosted across the country. Check the League of American Bicyclists' website for activities in your state.

In Japan, 15% of commuters bicycle to work. In the Netherlands, 50% of commuters bicycle to work. Less than 2% of U.S. commuters bicycle to work. Less than 2%. Are we really that attached to our cars? Or, is it just a matter of habit? Although more than half of the U.S. population lives within 5 miles of their workplace, lack of knowledge and incentive has deterred many from commuting by bike.


1. I'm out of shape
  • Ride at an easy pace; in a few months you will be in great 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.

2. 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.

3. It’s too far
  • Try riding to work and taking mass transit home, then alternating the next day.
  • Combine riding and mass transit to shorten your commute.
  • Ride to a coworker’s house and carpool to work.

4. 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.

5. My bike is beat up
  • Tell a reputable bike shop that you are commuting and have them tune up your bike.
  • If you can’t maintain your bike yourself, identify bike shops near your route.
  • Make sure that your bike is reliable and in good working order before you ride.

6. No showers
  • 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.
  • Health clubs offer showers; get a discounted membership for showers only.

7. 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; try rolling clothes instead of folding.

8. It’s raining
  • 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.

9. 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.

10. I have to run errands
  • Bolt a rack to the back of your bike 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.
  • Encourage your employer to provide a bicycle fleet for office use.
Each gallon of gasoline burned in an average car’s engine blows 19.4 pounds of CO2 out the exhaust and directly into Earth’s atmosphere. The less we drive, the less gasoline we burn. When you ride a bicycle or walk someplace instead of driving your car, you are keeping unnecessary greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. By taking one car off the road for one day’s average commute, you will be saving an estimated 26 lbs of CO2.

Driving also costs money. At current national average gasoline prices ($2.45 per gallon of regular), choosing your bike over your car saves you about $3 per day, not including tolls, parking, and so on. With gas prices going up again, your savings will undoubtedly increase.

You don’t need to overthink this one; just decide to give it a try. Start by making sure your bike is in good working condition. Check your bike helmet for a good fit. Plan a route that avoids heavy traffic, bad roads, and killer hills without adding too much distance to the trip. And allow yourself time to make the ride at your own pace.

Get on your bike and ride!


angela jiniel said...

Not to be another nay-sayer, but not everyone has access to mass transit. I live a 25-minute drive from my job and the only mass transit available would be a call-ahead bus that would take me the last 5 minutes. I would LOVE to be able to bike to work every day! But that would add hours and hours to my time away from home. I've also heard the suggestion that I should find a job closer to home, or move closer to work. Unfortunately, that also isn't as easy as sounds.

I applaud anyone that can manage to do it. Articles like this just frustrate me because I know that I want to, but I really don't see it as a feasible option.

Eco Yogini said...

excellent- LOVE the suggestions!

I agree with angela that biking isn't always feasible (I at times have to drive out on the highway for 20 minutes... and public transit isn't possible)... BUT I walk to work every other day.

also- I'm trying to use my bike during the evenings and weekends, getting used to riding to the park, to get my errands.
it's definitely a process, becoming more comfortable with traffic and looking for a bell and basket- but it should get better over the summer!

Only thing, once winter hits, with SNOW snow snow- my bike will go in hibernation. but you do what you can right?

I would suggest for Angela- perhaps you could bike other places like myself- to the local store, to the cafe or friends house. It doesn't have to be only at work.

also-when I drove out 20 minutes every single day- I found someone to carpool with... might not be an option depending on how rural you are- but it's better than nothing :)

Diane said...

Great post! Work places and local govenments should read it. Businesses should have bike racks, showers, and lockers available for bikers and local govenments should mandate bike paths on all streets.

ehmeelu said...

Excellent post with practical suggestions!

L said...

sorry but I have to go with
Angela on this one, my commute one way is 40 miles, I looked at the Google Maps and they estimate it would take me 3-4 hours to get to work nope don't have that kind of time nor any better public transit options NJ transit estimates 3-4 hours on the train, again one way. I apply to my local hospital once per month and receive form letter responses. My Prius and a shortened work week will have to do.


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