If you’re able, riding your bike to work can be one of the most beneficial things you can do in your day. There are many benefits to riding your bike to work, from keeping your body and your pocketbook healthy to saving the environment and promoting safe-cycling community infrastructure. It also can be fun, simplify life and provide a sense of freedom.
The average bike commuter loses 13 pounds their first year, according to the League of American Bicyclists. And for women, a 30-minute daily commute can cut heart failure risks in half and lower the rate for breast cancer.
But despite the benefits, only 17 percent of Colorado residents ruse a bicycle for transportation, including riding it to and from work, for errands, to school or social and leisure activities.
Cyclists fare best when they act as though they are drivers of vehicles and, thus, are treated as such.
Many people are afraid to commute because they’re afraid to ride in the road. It’s important to look up a route that takes quiet streets or streets with bike lanes, even if it’s not the most direct route and take the plunge.
Legally, bicyclists must follow the same rules as motor vehicle drivers. When that does not happen, accidents do. Almost 40 percent of bike crashes involve a bicyclist who is riding against traffic and conflicting with cross-street vehicles.
For safety, bicyclists should:
- Use designated bike lanes, but when bike lanes are not available, or safe road conditions do not allow, take over the traffic lane and, use visible and audible directional signals.
- Wear bright clothing, use bike lights and do not weave through parked vehicles. Instead, maintain your lane position. Be predictable for others on the roadway. Be assertive and confident but also alert and cautious, as if driving behind the wheel of a vehicle.
Wear your helmet, it’s a no-brainer.
In addition to following the rules of the road, a helmet is another must for riders. Brain injury is the number one cause of death and long-term disabilities for cyclists. And when a brain injury is the result of a crash, the person is 20 times more likely to die. Helmets can reduce that risk of injury up to 88 percent — yet less than a third of riders wear one.
Bikes are for everyone!
There are many options in bikes — from a road or mountain bike to the cruisers that New Belgium’s Fat Tire made so popular. No matter which bike a rider chooses, it should be comfortable, functional and visible. A properly fitted bike is important for safety and health. A poor fit can cause injuries, as well as create dangerous issues caused by improper operation of the bicycle.
Changes can be made to brakes, handlebars and the seat, and many bike shops will help adjust these things to fit your physical frame.
Before you go checklist:
- Air: Are the tires properly inflated? Is there a portable bike pump and/or patch kit on board?
- Brakes: Do they work?
- Cranks, Chain, Cassette: Depending on the type of bike, make sure the “guts” are working properly and are well maintained.
On short rides, carry a helmet and bike lock. On longer rides, grab the patch and tool kit.
Get out there and ride, it’s so great for your health!
Tags: bike to work, exercise