Monday, September 15, 2008

Ride Your Bike, Save Fuel and Make the World Safer for Cyclists

My five readers are aware that I recently got into cycling. I did not get into it to be "more green"or to save gas money. I got into it for exercise and recreation. However, since I began riding more, I have taken to riding my old comfort bike to and from work and on little errands around town. While my "commute" to work can barely be called that as it is probably a mile round trip, taking my bike to meetings, the library, grocery store etc. has been good. I have saved some gas, made my carbon footprint a little bit smaller, and gotten more exercise in the process. (Unfortunately, my knee is not yet fully healed and thus my riding for exercise and recreation has been severely limited- but I won't whine about that now.)

Not too long ago I was talking to a friend who mentioned she was about 10 miles from work. I encouraged her to explore the option of biking. The cost of good commuter bike will be easily made up in gas savings in a short time, not to mention the health benefits. Obviously there can be obstacles to doing this. Not everyone has a shower facility available to them at their place of work. (Articles I've read suggest baby wipes. I tried this recently. I road my bike to a park for a cookout with friends. I freshened up in the park bathroom with baby wipes and it wasn't too bad.) Winter weather can be tough, but with proper attire, riding in 20 degree weather is do-able.

People occasionally ask me about riding on the road and specifically about the dangers of it. The recently deceased blog, Dave Moulton's Bike Blog, often covered this subject and covered it well. In general, I find that if I follow the rules of the road, ride predictably and communicate well with motorists (signaling turns, signaling braking, giving a "thank you" wave etc.) things generally go pretty smoothly. Still, you need to be aware at all times and take unaware motorists in stride. (I'm not always good at that.) There are many books and articles that can get you up to speed on the rights and responsibilities you have as a cyclist on the road. In a short time you can become confident on the road. (Confidence should not be confused with carelessness.)

Here's the thing though...the more people that ride the safer it becomes. Check out this article that Brad Boydston linked to on his blog, "Bike Accidents Decline as Ridership Rises." Here's a quote: The researchers say studies in several countries have shown the incidence of motorists colliding with cyclists or pedestrians actually declines as more people ride or walk. The reason, they say, is simple -- the more cyclists motorists see, the more aware they are of cyclists in general and more safely they drive. Rising cycling rates mean motorists are more likely to be cyclists, and therefore be more conscious of, and sympathetic towards, cyclists.

If you have ever thought about commuting on a bike, whether to work or just for errands around town, I'd encourage you to go for it. You'll make your carbon footprint smaller, save some gas and become a little healthier in the process.


Blogger Tony Myles said...

I wish I had the guts to ride a motorcycle. I think I'm at the moped stage, but have to work my way up from there.

4:16 PM  

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