Forty percent of urban travel in the United States is within two miles of where people live. This means much of our daily travel could be by bike, and Sacramento's terrain and weather make it easy to bicycle much of the year.
Many of us have a short commute trip. and bicycling is an ideal travel mode for short trips. (The cyclist at right has an ideal commuter bike, with rack, bell, fenders and lights, and is wearing a Yakkay bike helmet. )
If you live within 10 miles of work, bicycling takes about the same amount of time as driving a car to work. To handle a longer commute, try driving to work with your bike and then ride home one day, then ride to work the next day and drive home.
Bicycling can be one of most pleasant ways to commute to work. Rather than being stressed from driving to work, the exercise of bicycling actually relieves stress. Bicycle commuters often say their commute is the best part of their work day.
If you're nervous about riding on the streets with traffic, try an Urban Cycling Skills class.
Bicycling is more fun when you ride with skill and confidence, and most of safe riding in traffic is having the knowledge to ride predictably and to be visible to motorists. Develop that self-confidence with the Urban Cycling class which prepares cyclists to be comfortable riding on the street, blending smoothly into the flow of traffic. Understand lane positioning and develop the skills to avoid crashes. The class is given by instructors certified by the League of American Bicyclists.
Urban Cycling Skills can now be taken in a one-day session, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m the third Saturday of every month. The class is Free and includes a student manual ($15). For a registration form, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit www.smart-cycling.org.
10 Steps to Riding Your Bike to Work
- Ask at work about showers, changing facilities, lockers and secure bicycle storage.
- Gear up. Get your bike checked out and tuned up if it's been awhile since you've ridden it.
- Put safety first. Buy a helmet approved for bicycling and wear it.
- Assess your fitness level. If you haven't had much exercise lately, you might want to check with your physician before you ride.
- Select a route. Try the bike trip planner online or go to Google maps and click the bicycle for a suggested bike route.
- Plan a short cut. Pedal as far as the bus or rail stop, then store your bike or put it on the front of the bus or take it on light rail.
- Look for someone to ride with. It can often be safer to ride as a pair, and it's more fun. Ask cyclists at work if they live near you or if you can join them on their commute. If you work downtown, the last blocks as you approach your worksite may be the trickiest. Find out what others have figured out.
- Do a test run in your car. Drive the bike route and look for things like wide lanes, bike lanes and traffic flow.
- On a weekend, when you're not pressed for time, test ride your chosen route on your bike. Find out how long it takes and try alternate streets if you're not comfortable on the ones you chose.
- Learn the rules of the road. A bicycle is a vehicle and you follow the same rules.
The week before
Determine your route to work.
The route you drive to work may not be the same one to bike to work. Choose roads that have bike lanes, wide outside lanes or paved shoulders. Then drive the route during your normal commuting time to determine potential traffic problems. Finally, bicycle the route on a weekend. Examine the road surface for potential problem intersections, make sure you're comfortable on the streets you've chosen and determine about how long it will take you.
Talk to your employer.
Tell your supervisor that you will be commuting by bicycle. (Hint. remind your supervisor that 80 percent of bicycle commuters improve their heart and lungs in eight weeks, resulting in less sick time and lost work, according to a study by the advocacy group, Transportation Alternatives.)
Find out where you will store your bike during the day. Does your building have a bike room, or bike lockers?
Know your Commute Coordinator.
Ask your Commute Coordinator where the bicycle can be parked during working hours and what showers and lockers are available for bicyclists. (Hint: wait 15 minutes after riding before taking a shower so you stop perspiring - otherwise you just replace the sweat you showered off with more. Stow baby wipes in your desk in case.)
Check out your bike.
Make sure your bicycle is safe to ride. The mechanical parts (brakes, tire, gears) shoul be in good condition and the bicycle seat height and handlebars should be adjusted properly. If you don't have a helmet, buy one. Have a light with you in case you find yourself riding at dusk or after dark. (You need and must have a light to ride at night.)
The day before
Plan your clothes.
It's a good idea to bike in comfortable cycling clothes; either pack a bag with your work clothes, or bring your attire the day before you bicycle so they won't get wrinkled. Know where you will change and freshen up, and keep a "kit" of toilet articles and a towel at work. (Hint. Rolling clothes to carry them in a bag doesn't prevent wrinkles. If that is important, drive Mondays and bring your work clothes for the week.)
Make sure your bicycle tires are properly inflated. If they are low, it will make riding difficult and you're more likely to get a flat tire.
The day of the Ride
Don't bicycle on an empty stomach
You will need energy for your ride, so eat an energy-rich carbohydrate breakfast and, if your commute is more than a half hour, consider taking something to eat along your way.
Get an early start.
The first time you bike to work, allow yourself a little more time than you think you will need. If you tested the route on the weekend you will know the approximate time it takes, but commute traffic may slow you down on a week day.