Whether a cyclist or pedestrian, safety is of utmost importance and some of the precautions to keep in mind apply to both cycling and walking/jogging. In 2015, 818 cyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles and roughly 45,000 were injured. (U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration.) For more information on cycle safety and laws check out these tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Now that you are familiar with the rules and follow them regularly, you are almost ready to start your journey. Here are some other considerations and motivation to biking to work:
- Packing your clothes. Have you given any thought on how you will get your work clothes and shoes to the office? This can be a logistical nightmare but one that is easily remedied with a little planning. Depending on the number of days consecutively choose to bike to work, you could bring a change of clothing on a day you drive and have it waiting for you at the office. Backpacks and panniers (totes for the back of your bike) also help to transport items safely and securely on your commute. Pack the heaviest items, usually shoes, on top.
- Reduce carbon emissions. Did you know that for every one mile you bike to work you will save roughly 1 pound of CO2 emissions? If your proximity to work doesn’t allow you to bike the entire distance (highway, etc.) consider biking just a portion of the way and then picking up public transportation for the remainder. Any portion biked, will help make the planet a little greener.
Practice reaching for a water bottle. You may have heard this before, but take it from me, if you haven’t practiced reaching for and drinking from your water bottle or grabbing a snack while pedaling, it’s not as easy as it looks. (On my first triathlon, I had not practiced drinking water during my training on the bike. The first time I tried to grab for it during the race, I thought I would tip over. Fearful, I didn’t take in any fluid during the 45-minute bike ride. Pair that with not drinking during the lake swim, and I was not set up for a very successful run.) On a short commute, you may not need to refuel with a snack, but should carry water
- Install a side view mirror on your bike or helmet. Many great safety reasons for doing this, but here’s one you may not have thought of…hybrid and electric cars make very little to no noise. In fact, legislation has been passed to require a “safe level of noise” to be emitted by such vehicles. Read more>>
- Install lights on the front and back of your bike. Did you know that most accidents happen at dusk and dawn? Ability to see a bike from behind as you approach is a concern. But possibly more dangerous for cyclists is having an oncoming car turn in front of them, hence headlights are crucial.
- Recruit an experienced rider to cycle with you to work. They can show you the safest and best routes and help with other logistical issues.
Ride your bike responsibly. All states require bicyclists on the roadway to follow the same rules and responsibilities as motorists.
Best reason to bike to work? Being outside in the fresh air is a great way to start and/or end your day! A typical commute by auto doesn’t include these beautiful vistas. Pictures courtesy of SAS employees on their bike commute. Get out there and celebrate National Bike to Work month and start finding out what you’ve been missing!