Commuter biking barriers debunked!
Even with all the benefits associated with commuter biking, you may still have an excuse or two for staying behind the wheel. But our solutions won’t just get you in the saddle— they’ll leave your defenses in the dust.
BIKING BARRIER: “I’m worried about my safety.”
IN-THE-SADDLE SOLUTION: Plan out low-traffic, bikefriendly routes one or two streets off the main drag and gradually work your way toward higher-traffic areas as your comfort level increases. “My first routes were mostly residential streets or bike paths,” says Gina Kenny, program manager for the League of Illinois Bicyclists, a statewide organization. “Now, I can feel comfortable riding down a street with a speed limit of 45 mph.” Legally, a bike is considered a vehicle, so ride as if you’re operating one: Stop at stop signs, signal your turns with hand gestures and make eye contact with drivers. Don’t hug the curb. You can take as much of the lane as you need to be visible to drivers and to feel safe. “If it seems too hard to cross traffic to make a left turn, just pull over to the right and walk your bike across the street like a pedestrian,” advises Amy Harcourt, owner of Bikes Make Life Better, a San Francisco company that helps large companies implement employee commute programs.
BIKING BARRIER: “I’m short on time.”
IN-THE-SADDLE SOLUTION: Cycling can actually help with that, because you’ll spend less time sitting in traffic, looking for parking, going to the gym and trying to de-stress in other ways. “I started commuting because I was a single parent and couldn’t exercise before or after work,” says Heidi Mylo of Venice Beach, Calif., who works 7 miles from home and pops her bike on a city bus for the final uphill mile to the office. Driving to work on the notoriously clogged Pacific Coast Highway takes her about 30 minutes; cycling on the adjacent bike path takes 25 to 40 minutes. “On my ride, I wave to people and feel connected to my community in a way that I didn’t when driving,” Mylo adds. “And when I get to work, I’m calm and relaxed.” Kenny says pedaling her son to kindergarten takes less time than driving him: “I don’t have to wait in the drop-off line. I just ride right up to the school, let him off and go.”
BIKING BARRIER: “I don’t want to get all sweaty en route to work.”
IN-THE-SADDLE SOLUTION: For most commuters, showering isn’t even necessary. Stiehl, who bikes 12 miles each way to work, carries deodorant, makeup, wipes, a towel and a fresh outfit in her backpack. “I’m an office manager of an accounting firm, so I wear dresses and heels, and it’s not a problem, even when I’ve commuted in 103-degree weather with 80 percent humidity,” Stiehl says. She rides in tops that wick away moisture, and on rainy days, she dries her clothes with a small heater below her desk. If you’re still concerned, consider showering at a gym if there’s one near your office (many offer locker room-only memberships!).