|Helen McConnell- see her profile|
(Every picture is of a real life bike commuter, just click the link below the picture for some great advice frm people who live the life.)
Biking is a reliable, safe, fun, and cheap way to get around—and it happens to be good exercise, too. Still, myths about bicycle commuting persist. Here are six I’ve noticed over the years; feel free to add your own in the comments section.
1. It’s too dangerous. Yes, there’s real risk associated with bicycling. Bikers do crash and get hit by cars. But how dangerous is biking in comparison with other forms of transportation and with our perception of the risk? A lot less than you might think.
|see Kat's cafree profile|
Still, that may seem a little hard to believe, and, as someone who spends a lot of time looking at statistics, I know how easily number crunchers can accidentally overestimate or underestimate a health risk. (This website, created by bicycle advocate Ken Kifer, has a detailed look at the incomplete and uncertain nature of bicycle safety statistics. And this blogger, posting on Grist, a website that features environmental news and commentary, offers another perspective on the Exponent stats).
|see Mia's carfree profile|
That said, there’s still more that we bikers can do to take responsibility for our safety. A disturbing 24 percent of fatal bike accidents involve an intoxicated rider, according to the National Center for Statistics and Analysis. And fatalities aside, research shows that bikers get into many minor accidents that could be prevented. Numerous studies have shown that the failure to wear lights at night or a helmet significantly increases a biker’s risk. And, until more bike infrastructure is built (and it should be as it improves biker safety, too) bikers have to behave like cars when we’re in heavy traffic—which means that, like cars, we can’t ignore the rules of the road. Finally, newer riders have to be especially careful about drivers opening doors (you’ll get clipped) and making turns (they can’t always see you), and about riding on the sidewalks (you’ll get hit by cars exiting or entering driveways).
|see Tammy's carfree profile|
2. It’s too far. The ride might take too long or take too much out of you if you live more than, say, 10 miles from work. But consider ways to expand your potential range. Many commuters, for example, use folding bikes so they can go partway on a commuter train (Swissbike uses technology originally designed for paratroopers to make the Hummer of folding bikes). Within city limits, many municipalities are now allowing bikes on buses or subway cars, too.
|see Clarence's carfree profile|
If you’re just starting out, you may want to look for a functional, commuter bike that has fenders to protect your clothes, a kickstand, and a comfortable seat. And, if you’re really looking for a relaxed ride, take a look at the new class of “coasting” bikes that are designed to reconnect people with carefree memories of biking as a kid. They feature pedal brakes—called coaster brakes—instead of hand brakes and an automatic shifter, and while they’re not designed for speed, they’re a great way to get reacquainted with the saddle, says Doyne.
|see Darren's carfree profile|
5. There’s nowhere to shower. Jeff Peel of the League of American Bicyclists says that many people do worry about this, but that there are numerous alternatives beyond simply showing up at the office smelly and sweaty. First, check to make sure that your building doesn’t have a shower somewhere. Mine does. If it doesn’t, check nearby gyms or fitness clubs. Many offer shower-only memberships for bike or running commuters. If you’re still striking out, Peel says, it’s amazing how far you can get with a sponge bath in a regular bathroom. Baby wipes work like a charm.
|Andy Cline-Carfree profile|
What are your thoughts? What myths are you aware of?
If you like this you may like:
Bike Commuting 101-The Bare Necessities at EcoVelo