Ride your bike!
If it’s at all feasible, riding a bicycle to work is a great alternative commuting option. However, there are things to watch out for, and there are a number of considerations to take into account.
Biking to work rocks!
Here are a few great arguments for biking to work over other forms of commuting:
- By far the cheapest way to commute – no gas money, no tickets to purchase, no tolls
- Great way to get some cardio exercise in on a regular basis
- Compared to driving, traffic is less of a concern, since you can ride between cars, on the shoulder, or occasionally on the sidewalk
- Compared to public transportation, you’re not subject to bus or train schedules; you can come and go at your discretion
- It’s a fun way to get a closer look at your neighborhood, yet a reasonably fast way to get around
- As you pass by people jogging or walking outside, you can actually talk to them as opposed to just passing them by
What’s not so great…
Of course, there are also some inherent disadvantages:
- Dangerous – in collisions, the bicycle loses every time, so it’s important to be cautious
- It’s certainly slower than driving, and not feasible for longer distances
- You’ll most likely need to wear special clothing for biking, so there’s more planning involved with getting your office clothes on
- You may sweat on your commute, so you may have to find a way to shower on-site before walking in
- Complete exposure to all weather conditions; biking is definitely not an option in snow and a pretty crummy one in rain
- You’re limited in the amount of things you can bring with you, and they have to fit into compact baggage
So taking the advantages and disadvantages into consideration, biking can be a great option for commuting, but not as the only option. A primary form of transportation will still most likely be needed for poor weather conditions. That said, as long as the distance is reasonable, biking is a viable alternative for both drivers in the suburbs and public transit riders in urban areas.
Additional factors to consider
If you’re sold on riding your bike as an alternative form of commuting to work, here are a few things you should take into account:
- Wear a helmet! On a bike, the consequences of mistakes are much larger than in a car. Without a steel shell of protection around you, make sure you at least protect your head with a strong helmet.
- Dress appropriate to the weather, but with some allowance. It may be wise to dress to be a bit chilly, since you’ll warm up as you start riding.
- Check your tire inflation regularly. This is something you ought to do with your car as well, but it’s a bit more important with a bike, for which you don’t bring any sort of spare. Only caveat is if you have those cool new tires that self-inflate while you ride…
- Bring water with you. This is a good idea in general, but particularly when traveling by bicycle. No dehydration!
- Silence your cell phone and keep it in your bag or somewhere you won’t hear or feel it. We’ve all been told to ignore our cell phones in the car, but it’s extra important on a bicycle.
- Bring a bike lock and don’t forget the keys! With a car, you can’t leave without the keys. For a bicycle, you don’t need the key until you’ve arrived, so check before you leave!
- Avoid potholes and cracks. Particularly treacherous are the long cracks parallel to the road. Your tires can get stuck in these, which does not bode well for you.
- If riding on the sidewalk, beware of shrubbery and pedestrians. Riding on the sidewalk may not technically be allowed in some places…
- If riding on the street, stay on the right side. Riding in the shoulder may be OK. Also, don’t forget to use hand signals when turning.
- Obey the speed limit. This really shouldn’t be a problem. If it is, you may be Superman, in which case you can just fly to your destination.
Now that you’ve seen some benefits of bike riding, some things to watch out for, and other considerations, have at it! You may have a few more weeks before biking is not really an option. Until then, have a blast!