What are we talking about today?

Some days have themes. I don't necessarily post something in each of these topic areas every week.

Sunday: Church-related or spiritual things.
Monday: Running.
Tuesday: Books.
Wednesday: Transportation.
Friday: Green living.

22 April 2011

S is for Speed, Sweat and Safety

National Bike Month is coming up! Bike To Work day is May 20th! Are you ready?

Does your city have
one of these? If so, you're
I'm going to suppose that at least a couple of you said "no", because otherwise this post is going to be darned short. I want to briefly address three major concerns that beginning cycling commuters have, in the hopes that it will make your road a bit less bumpy. (Hee hee hee.)

1. Speed: "Won't riding my bike take a long time?"
The easy answer is "maybe." It depends on the length of your commute, the traffic, the speed limit, and how fast you cycle. If you are travelling less than five miles on a congested freeway in traffic that crawls along every morning, then you could conceivably get to work faster on a bike. If you live farther away, don't have to cross large chunks of a city, or drive in light traffic, it may take longer by bicycle. Find a nice, quiet route away from the freeway and try it once on a Saturday. If your city has bike lanes, a greenway, or any exciting stuff like that, you may be in for a great ride to work. And I have to admit: One of my greatest joys in cycling is crossing over the congested motorways in Austin when they are doing their best impression of a parking lot. It makes me feel free.

2. Sweat: "Won't I get to work gross?"
Yes. That is, unless your ride is really short or completely downhill, you'll probably be sweaty when you stop. Before you try it, do some research: Is there a bike shop in your town with resources for commuters? Near your office? Does your office have showers? What can you do for clean-up? I made do at my office for years with a change of clothes, a stick of deodorant, perfume, and a washcloth. (Not in that order.) Many cycling commuters recommend driving to work on Monday with clothes for the week and cycling the rest of the time. You may need to experiment a little and see what works for you-- there will definitely be some virtue in arriving at the office 20 minutes early so you can clean up.

Look at all these happy cyclists!
3. Safety: "Isn't it dangerous?"
I'm no expert, but if you stick to relatively quiet roads and obey the traffic laws, you should be okay. I'm a helmet user myself; not everyone is, so you have to decide that for yourself. Studies have shown that when the numbers of cyclists increase, the number of cyclist accidents decreases-- there's something to the "safety in numbers" thing. Use lights to make yourself visible, be predictable so the traffic around you doesn't freak out, and use your common sense. Given the high number of accidents and fatalities in cars, I'm not certain that you're any safer inside a car than on a bicycle-- but again, a lot of it depends on you paying attention to what's going on around you. Don't expect to take a conference call while on your bicycle. (And you shouldn't be doing that in the car, either.)

There you have it! Su's quick and dirty guide to bicycle commuting. So, have you tried taking a bicycle? Public transportation? Carpooling? How did it work for you?


erica and christy said...

:0( I haven't tried it. Cycling to work wouldn't work for me. Unless I could trail a few car seats behind me. Carpooling would be great, but nobody from work lives near me. Good for you! christy

Lisa Potts said...

I think my butt would hate me if I rode a bike to work. I do admire people who can though. Have a great Easter weekend!

Su said...

@Christy: I now have this great mental image of you on a bike + multiple kiddy trailers behind you. Hee!

@Lisa: My butt was displeased the first couple of weeks. But I do have a nice padded seat (on the bike, not on me... okay, on me, too), so that helps.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit if I worked 5 miles away that might be just too much. I've done that before, in my younger days. Not sure if I'm down anymore. My part time job is 8 miles away - which would mean leaving my wife and kid 45 minutes before work if not more - way too much. Not to mention once you leave the city there are desert winds.

excuse, excuses

Su said...

Hee hee. You have to do what's best for you & your fam, of course. I don't think I'd be willing to have 1 1/2 hours less with my family every day just to commute by bike. And desert winds suck. (I guess technically they blow... never mind.)