May 17 was National Bike to Work Day. And we’re pretty excited about it! The nation is becoming more friendly towards cyclists. In bike-friendly states, biking commuters have increased over 100% from 2003 to 2013. In Washington D.C., there were 498% more bike commuters in 2013 than in 2003.
How exciting is that?! Not only does biking come with loads of health benefits, but it’s also great for our environment too! Studies show bikers are less likely to die overall, but they’re also less likely to get cancer, diabetes, heart disease. They’re less likely to suffer from depression or anxiety too.
And the easiest way to cycle every day is to bike your morning commute instead of driving it.
Were you were able to take part in Bike to Work Week? You can see how we celebrated here. Whether or not, we hope you’ll consider biking to work sometime soon.
Are you curious about how to get started? We break down what you need to know to bike to work.
Step 1: Know Your Route
Most likely, the route you take on your bike will not be the same one you take in your car. If you drive on busy roads, the interstate, or a road without a shoulder or a bike path, you may want to plot a new route.
The good news is that’s pretty easy. You can use Google Maps bike route feature. Plug in your home and work address and select the bike route. This route will keep you out of harm’s way as much as possible. It may even take you along scenic bike routes that aren’t available via car.
Before you try to bike this new route, consider driving it first. This way you can make sure it doesn’t take you along any unwanted detours. Look out for areas like through a bad part of town, or through construction or other obstacles. If you do decide to change routes, make note of it.
You may want to bike with headphones in so to hear the directions, especially your first few times. But this might not be a great idea. Headphones make it harder to hear and be aware of what’s going on around you. Try to memorize your route as much as possible so you don’t have to wear headphones as you bike.
Step 2: Know the Laws
Whether your bike is electric or not, the law considers bikes as motorized vehicles. That means, as a cyclist, you have to follow all the same laws as cars. Stop at stop signs and stop lights, travel with traffic, and stay in your lane.
Learn hand signals, so you can notify other drivers when you intend to turn. Avoid biking on sidewalks as much as possible. In some areas, this is actually illegal. But either way, drivers don’t expect quick moving traffic to approach on a sidewalk. They’re less likely to see you there.
You can get ticketed if you drive your bike illegally, or if your bike doesn’t have the proper equipment. Make sure you have everything you need, like reflectors or flashers, to be street legal. Some states have helmet laws, but none of these laws apply to riders over the age of 18.
Take some time to research your local laws so you can stay safe and legal in your area. You can read more about bike laws here.
Step 3: Stay Safe
Biking in the city can be dangerous, so you want to stay as safe as possible. Knowing the laws is the first place to start. Many laws are created to protect cyclists.
Always wear your helmet. Helmets have been shown to reduce the likelihood of a head injury by 50%. It could literally save your life.
Wear bright, reflective clothing, especially at night or when lighting is poor. This helps drivers spot you easier, which in turn makes it less likely to get hit by a car.
These tips will help you get started. If you want more information on cycling safety, check out our article here.
Step 4: Consider a Practice Run
You don’t want to be late to work because you incorrectly estimated how long it would take you to bike there. Consider making a practice run to see how long it gets you from your house to your destination. Time yourself so you know exactly how long it takes.
This will also help you memorize your route. And there’s nothing like getting lost to make you late to your destination. Once you know how long your bike commute takes you, you know how much time to allow for your bike to work. Are you worried you’ll run out of time anyway? Consider investing in an e-bike kit. Features like pedal assist or full-electric can help you get there faster in a pinch. Talk to one of our gurus today to get your bike fitted with an electric set up.
In a Perfect World, Everyone Bikes to Work
There you have it! Four easy steps are all it takes before you’re ready to bike to work like a pro. Even though you’re replacing your commute with biking, we hope you’ll bike as much as possible. The more often you bike, the easier it will be. The more benefits you’ll reap, and the better it will be for the environment as a whole. Understand the laws, know your commute, and stay safe. Have a happy bike ride!
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