With longer commutes and surging fuel costs, what better time to give bicycle commuting a try? Friday (May 20) is Bike to Work Day and is the largest concurrent bicycle commute in America. Bike to Work Week is May 16-20 and is part of May’s National Bike Month.
With fuel costs climbing towards $3 a gallon, bicycling to work becomes an attractive money-saving alternative to commuting by automobile. Bicycling just one day a week saves enough money in gas to treat yourself to lunch – plus, you arrive to work more refreshed and alert.
Bicycle commuting has become a viable transportation alternative for those looking to save money, stay fit, and have fun. Surveys show that more than 30 percent of people who tried bike commuting for the first time last year are still riding.
As a rule, commuting to work will take about twice as long as driving, though a study by New York City’s Transportation Alternatives shows that trips less than 3 miles are often faster by bike, and those 5 to 7 miles long take about the same time.
Commuting by bike has a world of benefits including:
• A better body. Ride your bike to work, and you no longer need to make time to exercise.
• More money in your pocket. The average annual price of keeping an automobile running: at least $3,000. The cost of running a bike for a year: less than $300. The joy of saving more than two grand this year: priceless.
• Clean air: Riding a bike is a simple way to improve the environment.
Can’t commit to a long commute?
Cut it in half. The first day, drive to work with your bike, then ride home that night. Ride to work the next morning, then drive home, and so on. Or drive halfway to a mall or other safe place, park your car, and ride the rest of the way. Bus services often allow bicyclists to bring their bikes on board, so you can ride your bike part of the way, then ride the bus the remainder of your trip.
Rules of the road
According to the League of American Bicyclists, 85 percent of all serious bicycle crashes don’t even involve a moving car. Among the remaining accidents, most are avoidable. Cyclists who learn and obey the rules of the road have 80 percent fewer collisions than those who do not. Here are some essential safety tips: