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May is National Bike Month -- Bike to Work FAQ -- Read to Learn More

    The League of American Bicyclists is promoting Bike-to-Work Week from May 14-18 and Bike-to-Work Day on Friday, May 18, 2018.
    National Bike Month includes an ever-expanding diversity of events in communities nationwide — but the biggest day of the month is Bike to Work Day.

    More than half of the U.S. population lives within five miles of their workplace, making bicycling a feasible and fun way to get to work. With increased interest in healthy, sustainable and economic transportation options, it’s not surprising that, from 2000 to 2011, the number of bicycle commuters in the U.S. grew by more than 47 percent.

    Hundreds of American communities have been successful in increasing bicycle commuting by providing Bike to Work Week and Bike to Work Day events.

    In fact, among the 51 largest U.S. cities, 43 hosted Bike to Work Day events in 2010. The City of Denver reported the highest rate of participation with one out of every 28 adults participating in its 2010 Bike to Work event. That effort makes a difference: Many people who participate in their Bike to Work Day promotion as first-time commuters become regular bike commuters.

    But Bike Month is more than one day — or week! From fashion shows to group rides, local groups find unique ways to celebrate their diverse bike cultures and community pride.

    FAQ's:

    Q: What is the best route for me to bike to work?

    • Biking to work takes planning. One of the most important parts of this planning is determining the safest route to ride.
    • Start by thinking about the route as you drive to work. If the road to work has viable shoulders then it can, dependent upon other factors, possibly be at least one part of your route.
    • After coming up with a tentative route, try driving that route during the time you might be on the road.
    • Look for possible danger points such as busy intersections, malls and strip malls with multiple entrance and exits, coffee & donut stops (can be very dangerous during commute time).
    • Be observant of the motor traffic clearance, is there a shoulder available?
    • Check the road surface, are there many grates, potholes or debris along the route?
    • Talk to others who commute to work on bicycles as they will already know some good routes.
    • Refer to the Transportation Alternative's map for possible routes.
    • Consider going out of your way a bit to get a safer route; the highway is straight but not always the safest.
    • Ride the route on Saturday or Sunday as a test run. The traffic will certainly not be the same but it will give you time to observe other factors. If you're planning to commute in the dark (with proper lights on the bike) try driving in the dark and look for well lit and quiet roads.
    • After you've developed your route make sure to let family, friends and co-workers know about it. You may need a pickup some time.

    Q: Is riding during rush hour dangerous then normal?

    • Maybe, due to traffic volumn; But the danger can be minimized.
    • The primary way to reduce the danger of rush hour traffic is choosing a safe route which avoids as much traffic as possible.
    • Secondarily, if possible, shift working hours to avoid as much of rush hour as possible. Biking early in the morning on local streets, even in the dark (with proper lighting) is safer then rush hour. In the early morning cars are scarce and easily visible.
    • Also, when riding with others you will be more visible then riding alone; Having a group to ride to work is more enjoyable and safe at the same time.
    • If you have to ride during rush hour you may be surpised to find that the trip may not, due to the volume of cars on the road, be that much longer then if you drove.

    Q: What if I work too far from home to ride my bike to work?

    • Using your bike to commute to work does not mean that you have to cycle all the way to work. Some bike commuters opt to drive their car to a Park & Ride lot, the mall or one of the local strip shopping centers. Not only will this make your bike commuting a little easier but can also cut out the most dangerous section of the commute. One lesson regarding this is not to park at the spots closest to the stores; merchants do not appreciate their closest parking spots being used all day by non-business related vehicles.
    • Some commuters drive their car to work with their bike on the rack and cycle home and back the next day. This also gives them the options of both having their car available at work and also bring all the clothing they need for work.

    Q: What type of bike is best to use to commute?

    • Any bike will do! A Road bikes may be more efficient on the road then a Mountain Bike and that may be a factor if distance is great enough; A hybrid may be a good choice for your commute; remember, key to cycling is comfort and some folks will find the added stability of wider tires more comfortable on the road. If you choose to use a Mountain Bike consider having slicks (or less knobby tires) mounted to make the commute easier. Also the tires on a Mountain Bike may be a bit more resistant to the hazards found on the shoulder of the road.

    Q: Do I need lights on my bike when I bike to work?

    • If you're planning to commute anytime near dusk its a good idea to have a set of lights. Even when its not so dark that you need a light to see the road you should have blinking lights both front (white or amber) and rear (amber or red). A good part of being safe is insuring that you are seen while on the bike. Rear lights will work best when mounted at center or on the traffic side of the bike. Front lights should be bright enough to prevent over-running the beam. A fast rider needs at least 15 watts of light for good illumination while a slower rider may do okay with less ... but you can never have too much. You want to be seen by the driver who might be thinking of turning in front of you from across the road. Along with active lighting there are other devices such a reflective tapes and straps that can catch the eye of drivers. Relective clothing is also an option for helmet covers, jackets and leggings.

    Q: What equipment do I need to carry for bike commuting?

    • Cycling tools don't vary between commuting and general cycling; the cyclist should always try to be self-sufficient and carry a pump, a spare tube, and some basic tools. Using a water bottle may not be necessary dependant upon the distance you ride. Having a cell phone is a good idea; talking on it while cycling is not.

    Q: How do I dress for riding and working? And how can I clean myself up when I arrive to work?

    • A helmet should worn regardless of the destination of any ride. Other cycling apparel may not be necessary for commuting dependant upon the distance and other comfort factors. 
    • If you plan to ride in foul or cold weather then the appropriate clothing should be considered. Watching the forecast for the commute home, before leaving in the morning, is a good idea.
    • Some commuters carry their work related clothing with them on a daily basis using a knapsack, panniers or bike rack; if you have a small storage space at work then stocking up a few days clothing before riding makes the daily cycling commute more comfortable. Some clothing items such as shoes and belts can be left at work.
    • Some cycling commuters are lucky enough to have showers and changing areas at work, if you don't have the facilities and work up a sweat then keep a container of wash and drys in your office. A quick trip to the bathroom before starting work will be appreciated by both you and your co-workers.

    Q: I'd like to Ask a Question or contribute to the answers - email: Membership@SBRAweb.org

    Thanks for additional ideas and contributioning to this posting to: Don Frevele and Kevin Williams

     

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