Gas prices, need for more exercise and the desire to be “greener” are all great reasons to take up biking. However, you may have some questions regarding the health benefits or physical advantages of biking. We must consider several factors when considering biking as a mode of transportation or fitness, including whether your route is favorable to biking, your choice of bicycles, whether biking is a good choice for you physically and how to take up biking safely.
In general, biking is an excellent choice of transportation and is quite common in many areas of the world. Common reasons given for decreased biking popularity in the United States are longer distance commutes, fewer transportation routes conducive to biking, general lack of personal desire or habit and job demands for transportation during the work day. While some of these factors are likely quite valid, one of the biggest anecdotal reasons for the decreased use of bicycles for transportation in the United States is the general love for our automobiles. Without a public demand for better biking routes and other improvements, the changes are likely to be slow in developing.
Let's assume you have decided to use your bike for transportation to work and have a safe route to use in getting there. This route needs to be free of interstate highway use with dedicated biking lanes preferred. Additionally, the route should be well-maintained and free of holes and loose gravel for the most part. To start out your new endeavor, consider biking just a few days per week. Just an average of two days of biking per week could decrease your gas usage by 40 percent (an average of about $500 to $700 per year with gas prices at $2.50 to $3.50 per gallon). Other things you will want to prepare as you plan your new commute might be:
- Leave a change of clothes at work for changing once you arrive.
- Use a portable storage drive or email work from home to your work computer instead of toting a laptop.
- Plan ahead for lunches.
- Install storage bags (saddle bags) on your bike.
- Make sure you have a place to store your bike once you get to work.
- Always wear visible clothing and a helmet.
Learn about bike safety considerations on the next page.