Resident bicycle enthusiast's bicycle enthusiast, Linda Watts, tears down our fear walls and shows us just how damn smart and easy (or less-hard) it can be to commute by bike.
Thirteen lucky years ago, I made the decision to move to Portland, OR, for a better quality of life that included bike commuting. That decision may have also been based on the quality of coffee and beer in Portland, but that is a subject for a different post. Many of Ergo Depot’s staff bike commute to work. I would gather that we all ride for different reasons. Whatever a person’s reason, bike commuting is a healthy, economic and environmental way to get back and forth to work or school.
Bicycling is a low impact aerobic exercise that strengthens your heart, lungs, and muscles. Studies show that just three hours a week of bike commuting reduces your risk of heart attack and stroke by 50% and produces better cholesterol levels. Who doesn’t want a healthy heart?
Cycling is smart money. The only fuel a bicycle uses is what you put in your body. You have to eat regardless, so why not put that sandwich to good use? Usually, bicycle parking is free and abundant, and you won’t need to pay for a gym membership when you have a bicycle. Bike commuting will also save you money on fuel, insurance, vehicle maintenance and health care expenses.
Unlike a motor vehicle, bicycle commuting uses no fossil fuel making it one of the most environmentally friendly ways to get around, second only to walking. Cycling drastically reduces emissions, including hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide.
Whatever your reasons for starting to bike commute, know that you are a part of a community of people wanting a healthier, happier lifestyle.
Now that you have made the decision to bike commute, where to start? Well, first things first. You need a bike! Chances are you have a bicycle in your garage, basement or shed right now gathering dust. If so, awesome! If not, there are many places to purchase a bicycle, new or used, other than a bicycle shop. Now, in all fairness, I must divulge that for many years, I worked in bike shops. Most bike shop employees will be one of your best resources when choosing a bike for commuting. This is due to most bike shop employees being bike commuters themselves. Another great resource will be family, friends and co-workers who bike commute. Maybe one of them will have a bike to borrow.
No matter where you bike comes from, any bike can be used for commuting. Yes, some bikes are more efficient than others, but do not let thinking you have the incorrect bike deter you from bike commuting. That dusty, 1990s mountain bike hanging in your garage that you rode twice on a dirt road then promptly put away is a perfectly fine bike to use. In fact, one of the bikes I use to commute is just that same bike! Yes, I am one of “those” people with multiple bikes. Moving along now… To get that dusty bike ready for your commute, clean it off, lube the chain and add air to the tires. It really can be that easy. Take your bike to a qualified bike mechanic for a tune up in case your trusty steed is in need of some extra maintenance love. Think of it this way, this is your transportation, and it needs to be in good condition. You wouldn’t drive your vehicle with flat tires or no oil would you? Treat your bike with love and respect and you will be rewarded!
Next week we'll talk about carrying your stuff on your bike (and what stuff you'll need), and planning your route.