How to bike to work (or anywhere else)

פורסם: 25 במאי 2013, 13:16 על ידי: Sustainability Org   [ עודכן 25 במאי 2013, 13:17 ]
A little bit of planning will make incorporating a bike into your travels much easier. Here's how to get rolling!
By Chris Baskind, Sep 22, 2008

Cycling to work will dramatically reduce your carbon footprint. (Photo: rudall30/Shutterstock)

There's never been a better time to consider walking, public transportation — or the greenest, most efficient form of transport: cycling.
Once a novelty of the Industrial Revolution, bicycles now supply millions of people with efficient, healthy, pollution-free daily transportation. Bicycles can reduce traffic congestion and noise. You can park a dozen bikes in the space of a single automobile, and the idea of a morning commute free of fossil fuels seems particularly attractive fuel costs go up and down.
Even if you only cycle once a week — on Casual Fridays, perhaps — you'll be reducing your weekly commute's environmental impact by 20 percent. That's about the same as trading your current vehicle for a hybrid, and a lot cheaper.
Yes, you'll sweat. No, you won't smell like a horse around the office. Yes, you can really do this. You'll be healthier and a little richer for the experience.
But commuting by bicycle takes planning. Let's get started!
Make it work at the office
There's an old saying that a journey starts with a single step. With bicycle commuting, your journey begins with deciding what happens once you arrive.
The first thing you need is a secure place to park your bike at work. Bikes tend to get in the way indoors, so keep yours out of hallways where people might knock it down or get their clothes greasy. A back room or storage area might work, but your best bet is probably outside — a covered location, if possible — with something solid for a locking support.
Mornings are the coolest time of day to ride, but depending on the length of your commute, you may want a place to change or freshen up. Talk to your employer about your plans and the possibility of setting up a bike-to-work program. If there are no suitable facilities where you work, look for a public washroom (or even a gym shower) within easy walking distance of your destination. You really don't need much: just some privacy and room to change.
Are you in good-enough shape?
Probably so. Whether you're a casual commuter or a pro bike racer, cycling is all about pace.
The biggest mistake made by beginner cyclists is pushing too hard. Regardless of how many "speeds" your bike might have, choose a midrange gear in which you can comfortably turn the pedals at 70 or 80 revolutions per minute. Over mixed terrain, use your gears to maintain this rhythm. This is the secret to efficient cycling. Spin — don't grind.
Commuting should be a gently aerobic activity. If you're feeling winded, ease back. As your fitness improves, you'll be able to turn bigger gears at that 70 to 80 rpm cadence. Ride for pace, and the speed will come naturally.
As with all exercise regimes, consult your physician or primary care-giver before getting started.
Key consideration: Route planning
The shortest way to work may not be the best. Scout roads with marked bicycle lanes. If none are available, look for routes that avoid overly narrow roads, tricky intersections and open storm gratings.
Routes through residential areas are pleasant and usually have the benefit of less traffic. But keep in mind that people are heading to work at the same time you are, and the most dangerous place on the road for a cyclist is the foot of a driveway. Watch for distracted drivers backing into the street. Avoid the temptation to hop up onto a sidewalk: it decreases the time a car has to spot you, and bikes are a hazard to pedestrians.
Once you've found a good route — find another. Part of the fun of cycling is slowing down enough to really see things. Vary your commute and keep things fresh.
It's not about the bike ... entirely
As Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong pointed out in his autobiography, it's not about the bike. You can commute on anything — but the right equipment will certainly make your experience safer and easier.
If you're going to be riding before the sun is fully up or after it sets, you must have lights. Most municipalities have specific regulations about the degree of lighting required by night-riding cyclists, and common sense dictates you get as bright as possible. Here's the good news: a properly lit cyclist in reflective clothing is generally more conspicuous than a daytime rider.
Whether they're legally required or not, ride with an approved and well-fitting helmet. A "lid" can be the difference between a scraped knee and a hospital stay. Or worse.
We'll discuss the selection of commuter-specific bicycles in future articles. But rain fenders and a good bike rack will keep you cleaner and make your bike more useful.
Choosing what to carry
Some commuters cycle in their work clothes. Depending on the length of your ride, your fitness and local climate, this might be an option for you.
Not all of us live in a cool, flat place like Holland, so you may need to carry a change of clothes on the bike. A towel and a washcloth in a ziploc bag will make freshening up a breeze, along with whatever cosmetics or personal items you'll need for the day.
It's smart to learn how to change a tire. Most bike shops will be happy to show their customers the ropes, and it's a quick roadside job once you're in the know. You'll need a flat kit: a spare inner tube, two or three tire levers, and a rag to check the inside of your tire for glass. There are also flat-resistant tires and tubes. They're a bit heavier and more expensive than their conventional equivalents, but well worth the money.
Buy an impressive lock. Kryptonite is the dominant manufacturer in this field. In any case, look for a case-hardened chain or heavy aircraft cable model. Bicycle locks can be defeated, but a sturdy chain wrapped through your frame, both tires, and a secure anchor will make your bike much less attractive to a casual thief.
Finally, carry water. You should drink regularly while riding — at least one standard water bottle per hour. Diluted sport drinks work well, too. If you're thirsty, you're not drinking often enough.
Enjoy your ride!
Traveling by bicycle is a healthy and environmentally friendly way to move around. Enjoy the fresh air and sunshine — and check back for more tips on cycle commuting bikes and gear.
Copyright Lighter Footstep 2008.


How to ride your bike to work
A smaller carbon footprint and a thinner waistline are two of the best results of choosing to bike to the office.
By Chris Baskind, April 1, 2010

Man in a suit on his bicycle

WELL-SUITED COMMUTE: Burn calories and not gas on your way to work. (Photo: jordanfischer/Flickr)

The weather is finally changing — meaning it's time to take the plunge and consider a different mode of transportation for work. But what happens next? 
It's all about planning
Bicycle commuting is a lot of fun, but doing your homework beforehand is the best way to make sure things go smoothly. If you're reading this in the spring, Bike to Work Week would be a great time to get involved, but getting on your bike is something you can do any time of year. Check the League of American Bicyclists' website and see if there are organized activities where you live.
We've put together five areas for you to address before the Big Ride:
Are you physically capable of the commute? Most adults in average condition can manage a 10-mile ride in about an hour without too much trouble. Just like any exercise program, talk to a health professional if you have any questions before you saddle up.
Is your bike up to the trip? Buying a shiny new commuter bike is a great incentive to ride — but any bicycle in good repair will do. Give your bike a thorough once-over well in advance of your maiden commute. As a general rule of thumb, tires, running gear, brakes and lights should all get attention before each trip. Use the checklist on how to pick a great used bicycle if your bike has been sitting unused for any length of time — or wheel it into the local bike shop for a professional tune-up.
Choose your route carefully. The most direct way to work isn't always the best. Pick streets with activity appropriate to your comfort level on the bike. Watch out for areas marked off-limits to non-motorized traffic (most tunnels, for instance). One of the best things about cycle commuting is being able to vary your route. There's usually more than one way to get from Point A to Point B, and that's part of the fun.

Pack what you need. A water bottle, toiletries, a change of clothes, tools and a tire repair kit — these are all reasons commuter bikes are usually equipped with panniers or baskets. If you're just starting out, you can probably make do with a backpack or messenger bag. But you'll find these can be uncomfortable in warm weather. The bike frame is the best place to carry gear, so upgrade to a proper rack and bags as soon as the commuting bug bites.
Decide what happens once you're at work. You'll need a secure place to lock up or some out-of-the-way indoor location to stash your bike. Bikes can be wet and greasy, so choose somewhere away from your co-workers if you want to remain popular. Avoid blocking doorways and halls. You're also going to need somewhere to change and freshen up. A bathroom stall will do the trick, but check around and see if there are shower facilities within walking distance of where you work. Gyms and spas are usually cooperative about arranging access.
Now ride! Leave yourself plenty of time, enjoy a nice breakfast — and start pedaling! If it goes well on your first outing, try it again next week. You're saving money, helping out the environment and promoting your own physical fitness.
We'd love to hear your commuter stories. Share them in our comments section. Have fun!


But won't I stink if I ride my bike to work?
With a few simple prep steps, you will not stink up the office.
by Chris Baskind, March 22, 2010

Photo: ElvertBarnes/Flickr

One of the most common concerns voiced by would-be bicycle commuters is whether they'll be carrying around the "air" of a cyclist once they get to work.
So will you stink up the office? Not if you were clean when you got on the bike. It all depends on your individual body chemistry, of course, along with your exertion level and local climate. But it's a pretty straightforward thing to get cleaned up for the workday once you park the bike.
The good news is that most of the sweat from a bike commute stays in your riding clothes. Carry a change with you — or drop off fresh clothes at work if you're not cycling every day. It also pays to carry basic toiletries. A washcloth and a little soap and water are really all you need to get presentable in less than10 minutes. Just budget enough time to get your day rolling without a rush.
Some riders are fortunate enough to have shower facilities on-site or at a nearby building. It's worth looking for these. You might be able to negotiate shower privileges at a nearby gym or spa. Ask other cyclists what they're doing.
But there's no need to fear failing the sniff test. Plan ahead, carry the right gear, and enjoy healthy, human-powered transportation!
Copyright Lighter Footstep 2009


12 reasons to start using a bicycle for transportation
Economic instability and ever-increasing climate change are just two of the many reasons riding a bike is an excellent alternative to driving.
By Matt Hickman, April 19, 2010

Q: I’m a dedicated bike commuter with a bit of a bone to pick with my boss but I don’t want to come on too strong since I do, after all, enjoy my job and would like to hang on to it. The thing is, I’ve been biking to work for three years now and others in my department are beginning to do the same, yet there’s been no movement from upper-level management when it comes to accommodating us cyclists.
At the very least, I’d like to see a bike rack installed outside or in the garage of my building — right now I’m locking my bike up in front of random buildings in the neighborhood. I’d also like to see one of the spare offices turned into a “lounge of sorts” for us cyclists to change and freshen up before hitting the cubicles because, sadly, spandex and pit stains aren’t part of the corporate dress code.
I’ve brought up bike-friendly office improvements before in general meetings but they’ve been shot down. Do you have any suggestions on how I can successfully, and tactfully, put something into motion?
Spinning my wheels,
Kansas City, Mo.
Hey Andy,
I got your back (and your bike) on this one. Unless Mr. or Mrs. Bossman/Bosslady is a complete dolt, they’ll hear you out without issue. So, please, don’t worry about losing your job or being put on probation because you’re passionate about biking to work. Just don’t take all of your clothes off, save for a helmet, and chain yourself to the front of your building in protest. That may not work to your advantage.
I’d keep bringing up the topic in meetings and, if you haven’t already, request a one-on-one with whomever you think can help put your ideas into action, someone who’s sympathetic and who has pull. And remember, there’s power in numbers, so band together with your cycling co-workers and make your presence known around the water cooler.
Most importantly, before you take a meeting about the possibility of installing racks and other “amenities” for bike commuters, be prepared. Go in with some ammo other than “I bike to work and leaving my bike chained up down the street is a pain in the butt.”
First, I’d stress how your commute is far less, well, stressful than driving. Employees who commute by bike are healthy, happy and productive which, of course, only benefits your company. Plus, depending on how long your commute is, biking can get you into the office faster. Mention that American commuters spend an average of 47 hours annually stuck in rush hour traffic while emphasizing that you — as I’m sure you do —always roll in right on time with a big smile on your face. And because biking to work keeps you healthy, you take fewer sick days. It also might be worth pointing out that you never take extended lunch breaks to get time in at the gym because your commute is your exercise. For supporting evidence, check out this list of biking-to-work health benefits.
Second, since many companies large and small are striving to green their business operations, be sure to point out that providing employees with bike racks, at the very least, is an essential way your company can truly walk the green talk. Reference other ways that your company has made eco-improvements and voice your concern as to why the “b” word has been neglected. And you mentioned that your company has a garage. I imagine that maintaining one is far more expensive than installing a few bike racks or lockers, so I don’t think it would hurt to bring up the point that when an employee bikes, the company can reap the financial benefits as well.
On the topic of financial benefits, make your employer aware of the Bicycle Commuter Benefit Act, a provision put into effect in 2009 by the IRS that makes regular bike commuters eligible for reimbursements of up to $20 a month. It’s a voluntary benefit program, so be sure to bring it up especially if employees who opt to take public transit to work are receiving perks.
And finally, in terms of when, round up the troops and strike now, Andy, because the timing is perfect. Bike-to-Work Week 2010 is just around the corner, May 17-21, so use the momentum of this event to make your move. You might be already familiar with these resources, but if not, check out Bike Commuters, Bike Hugger and a list of commuter tips from the The League of American Bicyclists to get you revved up. And you’re probably intimate with KCBike.Info but just in case …
Good luck and fingers crossed that you’ll be parking your ride out front, be provided with proper facilities to change into and out of that monkey suit and be reimbursed for tune-ups in no time.
— Matt


12 reasons to start using a bicycle for transportation
Economic instability and ever-increasing climate change are just two of the many reasons riding a bike is an excellent alternative to driving.

By Chris Baskind, March 18, 2010

Photo: Lighter Footstep

We're continuing our look at smart ways to start saddling up and using bicycles for real transportation.
We've always taken the greenness of bike transport as a given. But if you're just getting started — or perhaps trying to convince an employer that bicycle commuting is a good thing — we've rounded up a dozen reasons to leave that car in the driveway and start covering pavement on two wheels. Let's ride!
1) It's easier to finance a new bicycle than a new car. Thanks to the recession, auto loans are hard to find these days — even if you have good credit. But for the price of a single car payment, you can buy a well-made bicycle that should outlast most cars. Add a few hundred dollars more for rain gear, lights and accessories, and you have all-weather, anytime transportation.
2) A bicycle has a tiny manufacturing footprint when compared to a car. All manufactured goods have environmental impact, but bicycles can be produced for a fraction of the materials, energy and shipping costs of a car.
3) Bicycles produce no meaningful pollution when in operation. Bikes don't have tailpipes belching poisonous fumes into the atmosphere. They also eliminate the oil, fuel and hydraulic fluids dripped by automobiles onto the road surface — which means less toxic runoff into local waterways.
4) Bikes save taxpayers money by reducing road wear. A 20-pound bicycle is a lot less rough on the pavement than a two-ton sedan. Every bicycle on the road amounts to money saved patching potholes and resurfacing city streets.
5) Bicycles are an effective alternative to a second car. Perhaps you're not in a position to adopt a bicycle as primary transportation. But bikes make great second vehicles. You can literally save thousands of dollars a year using a bicycle for workday commuting and weekend errands in households which might otherwise be forced to maintain two cars.
6) Using a bike for transportation can help you lose weight and improve your overall health. The health benefits of regular aerobic exercise are well-known. Depending on your riding style and local road conditions, you could easily burn 600 calories an hour through brisk cycling. Most bike commuters report losing 15 to 20 pounds during their first year in the saddle without changing their eating habits.
7) You can store a dozen bicycles in a single automobile-sized parking place. Parking lots have enormous environmental and financial impact, particularly in urbanized areas. The more bikes you can get on the road, the fewer parking spaces you need to build.
8) Bicycles don't burn gasoline. Fuel is cheap compared to last year, and the economic downturn is likely to keep a lid on petroleum demand for a while. But we're not producing any more oil today than we were when it was more than $100 a barrel. A healthy bike culture will help ease pressure on supply once demand returns.
9) Bicycling may be faster and more efficient than taking a car. We're not talking about the crazy — and illegal — antics of New York bicycle messengers. But bikes are often faster than cars in urban areas, especially when city designers have set aside proper bike lanes. There's nothing more satisfying as a bicycle commuter than breezing past a long line of gridlocked traffic.
10) Bikes cost much less to maintain and operate than automobiles. You'll never throw a rod on a bicycle, and dropping a transmission on a bike usually means replacing a bent derailleur hanger or worn-out chain. Bicycles do require service, but you can learn to perform most of it yourself. Even if you have a shop do things for you, costs will be trivial compared to a car.
11) Bicycles provide mobility for those who may not qualify or afford to drive. Not everyone can get a driver's license (or wants one), and the cost of purchasing, insuring and maintaining a car is out of reach for a lot of people. Almost everyone can afford some sort of bike. Other than walking, bicycles are the most cost-effective transportation on the planet.
12) Studies show that bicycle commuters are healthier, more productive, and require less time off at work. This is why most enlightened employers are eager to accommodate commuting cyclists. Healthy workers are better workers — and that's good for the bottom line. Bikes are smart business.
So there are 12 reasons to dust-off that bicycle in your garage in time for Bike to Work Day (the third Friday in May). Can you think of others? Leave a comment below.
Copyright Lighter Footstep 2009
Thumbnail photo: Melissa Billie/Flickr