Tips for a Better CommuteCategory Jump
Commuting? Arrive at your destination feeling, looking, and smelling fresh. By Jennifer Sherry
Read these bike commuting tips and improve the aftermath of your ride.
To Your Job: Your commute is short enough that you can primp and prep before you leave, but you don't want to show up for the Monday-morning meeting smelling like a Subway sandwich.
Stay Cool: Leave early. Sunrise is generally the coolest time of day, and it's not uncommon for temperatures to rise 3 or more degrees per hour between 7 and 9 a.m. Plus, you'll be ahead of schedule, which means you can slow your pace.
On Errands: You plan to stop at the market after you hit the bank and the post office. Not only will a backpack full of groceries against your body boil you from the inside out, but your baking back will curdle your milk and wilt your lettuce.
Stay Cool: Strip yourself of unnecessary gear. Use a rear rack with panniers to transport everything--the paycheck you have to deposit, the package you have to mail and the perishable food items you need for tonight's barbecue.
To The Garden Party: Your friends are having a cocktail party a few miles from your house. It's the perfect opportunity to travel by bike, but you'd rather show up carrying a dry chardonnay than wearing a wet Fred Perry.
Stay Cool: Find the shadiest route. Ride through tree-lined neighborhoods and parks. If the cooler way is the longer way, remember, it's a party you're going to, not a final exam.
Bike to Work Book Explains Commuting
Do you have unanswered questions about commuting by bike? The "Bike to Work Book" by Carlton Reid and Tim Grahl is the definitive guide for commuting by bike. New commuters and seasoned veterans alike will be able to benefit from the tips, information, and resources shared in the book extracts available online as well as the hard copy book available in January 2009 from Amazon.com.
Safety when Riding in Traffic
Avoid bike-car collisions: Ride Smart: Here's how to avoid the five most common bike-car collisions. By Christine Mattheis
LEFT CROSS: A motorist fails to see a cyclist and makes a left turn--it accounts for almost half of all bike-car crashes, according to the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC).
AVOID IT: If you see a car turning into your path, turn right into the lane with the vehicle."Don't creep into the intersection at red lights to get a head start," says Laura Sandt, program specialist for the PBIC.
RIGHT HOOK: A motorist passes a cyclist on the left and turns right into the bike's path.
AVOID IT: Passing stopped or slow-moving cars on the right places you in a driver's blind spot. Take the lane-it's your right in all 50 states. "If you're in the lane, the driver will slow down and stay behind you and wait to make the turn," says Preston Tyree, who runs the Community Mobility Institute, in Austin, Texas.
DOORED: A cyclist traveling next to parked cars lined up on the street strikes a car door opened by the driver.
AVOID IT: "Always be looking several cars ahead," Sandt says. Ride at least 3 feet from parked cars, taking the lane if necessary. Be prepared to stop suddenly. Keep your weight over your rear wheel and apply strong force to the front brake lever, with moderate force to the back.
PARKING LOTTED: A motorist exits a driveway or parking lot into the path of a bicyclist.
AVOID IT: No bike-handling tricks can overcome the danger of riding on a road with numerous parking-lot exits. Just take a less-direct route. If you don't change routes, follow the law and ride fully in the road. Most of all: Stay off the sidewalk-motorists aren't looking for you there, Sandt says.THE
OVERTAKING: A motorist hits a cyclist from behind.
AVOID IT: "Make yourself as visible as possible and ride predictably," Sandt says. Use reflectors and lights on your bike at night; when moving to the left, signal with your arm; and hold a straight line while checking traffic over your shoulder, because even the most diligent driver could hit a swerving bike.
Bicycle Commuting Tips
With the high cost of gas, it seems that more people than ever are bicycling to work. Whether you’re a first-time bike commuter or just looking for some additional ideas, use the following tips to help your commute be safe and enjoyable.
Start easy: Pick the day that will make it easiest to start bike commuting. Some people like to begin by choosing a “casual Friday” or a day with no morning meetings to worry about. If you feel like the distance to work is too far, consider driving to a certain point and biking the rest. Set a goal and get started.
Prep your bike: Be sure your bike is tuned and in good working order. You may consider adding tire liners or other flat prevention so you can worry less about having to change a tire on the way to work.
Choose your route: Many people avoid bike commuting because they can’t imagine biking on the roads they usually drive. In fact, that is often the worst route for cycling. Obtain a local bike map or check in with your local bike shop to plan a safe and enjoyable route to work. Test your route by riding it on the weekend to give you a good sense of the terrain and the amount of time you’ll need. Keep in mind that traffic patterns might be different on the weekends, and that multi-use paths may be pleasantly empty during the weekday commute.
Carrying your gear: Many people avoid the “how to carry it” question by bringing a change of clothes and other necessary items to work on the days before they bike to work. If you do bring it along, you have the choice of carrying it on your body (with a messenger bag or backpack) or on your bike (with a rack and panniers). There are advantages and disadvantages of each method, and you might want to experiment with each. Be sure that whatever method you use you feel comfortable on your bike and take time to adjust to the differences of your center of gravity, bike handling, checking for traffic, and so on.
Parking and security: Scout your workplace ahead of time for where to park your bike during the day. Some companies will allow you to bring your bike into the building, while others may have outdoor facilities. Wherever you park, invest in a good lock and get instructions on how to use it effectively. If no good parking exists, here’s your chance to do some bicycle advocacy work! There are a number of good resources to help employees make the case for better biking facilities at the workplace. Check with Bicycle Colorado for ideas.
Clothing and weather: Be sure to wear bright and/or reflective clothing. Plan ahead for Colorado’s afternoon thunderstorms and other weather changes by bringing raingear and/or layers. Some veteran commuters will post a checklist by their bike in order to be sure they have what they need each day (both for the ride and at work) and the types of gear they need for various weather conditions. You may want to have a small “cleanup kit” at work with washcloth, brush/comb, and deodorant to get ready for the day.
Be safe: Be sure to always wear your helmet. Be visible -- if your job schedule includes early morning or evening hours, be sure to have a headlight, taillight, and reflectors. Communicate with drivers, other cyclists, and pedestrians using eye contact, hand signals, your voice, and a bell.
Get others involved: Bike commuting creates a great opportunity to interact with coworkers and neighbors. If you are already a bike commuter, consider being a mentor or resource for others wanting try. Help them choose routes, or offer to ride with them on their first attempts. Some communities, such as Fort Collins, have started “Commuter Bicycle Coach” or similar programs to encourage more people to ride to work. Find out about your community’s support for bike commuting, such as “guaranteed ride home” programs, and work to publicize, strengthen, and expand them.
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Winter Cycling Tips
Fall is in the air which means winter must be lurking around the curve. While the sun's rays are fading, that doesn't mean your cycling involvement must follow. Below are a few tips for riding and staying involved with advocacy throughout the approaching season.
Sand and Ice: Start braking early to allow for the increased stopping distance on slick roads. Take this opportunity to practice your cornering technique by braking early and coasting through the turn - just don't practice this at stop signs.
Debris in the Bike Lane: This time of year bike lanes are particularly laden with debris plowed off the roadway. Try using additional protection against flats and consider riding in the lane of traffic where the bike lane is unsafe. Report such conditions to the local street maintenance department.
Be Visible: Motorists must deal with fogged windows, poor visibility, and glare. Make sure they see you by wearing bright, reflective clothing and even using lights on overcast days. Good headlights and flashing taillights are a must for night-time or early morning riding.
Temperature: As any seasoned commuter will tell you, dress in layers. Start with a layer next to your skin that wicks moisture away, then go with an insulating layer such as fleece or a heavier jersey. On the outside use a shell to block the wind. To keep your hands and feet warm, wear long finger gloves and shoe covers - keeping your arms and legs warm help too. One common problem is to sweat and then get cold, so shed layers as you warm up.
Drink Up: You may not feel thirsty, but when you see your breath, that's water leaving your body. When it's really chilly out, some riders even start with warm water in their bottles - never mind the plastic taste.
Pave the Way: The best way to ensure pleasant riding in the spring and summer is to get involved with decision-making this time of year. Since your rides in the winter may be shorter, use you extra time to help support bicycle advocacy efforts.
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