That's right, May is National Bike to Work Month and that tomorrow is Bike to Work Day. What a great concept and it need not stop there. I recently met David from Bellingham and he is taking the Bike to Work Day concept to his church and is promoting Bike to Worship Day. I propose we have National Bike to Wherever Month!
Since the weather's looking mighty fine, get out there and ride! Dust off that bike, pump up the tires, put on your best fluorescent shirt and pedal yourself to work, worship, or wherever! Your body needs it. Your mental health needs it. The planet needs it!
Now I know some of you are saying, but I'm nervous about biking. I don't know what to do on the road, it's unsafe! Well, a little education can cure you of that. The Seattle Times has a great article in today's paper with lots of juicy information on how to safely bike to work. One of my favorite resources are bike maps. And because I'm a big fan of bike safety, I'm going to borrow from one of their resources, Pedal Power Tips and give you a few pointers on how to ride in traffic.
- See and Be Seen - use a headlight, wear bright clothes, and always keep your eye out for bad drivers.
- Don't get Doored - ride far enough to the left of parked cars so you won't get surprised by a sudden door in your face.
- Shun Sidewalks (I love riding on sidewalks when the street is narrow, oh well) - though riding on sidewalks is generally legal, cars won't see that you're about to enter traffic at an intersection and may turn right in front of you (ouch). If you insist on using the sidewalk, be sure to walk your bike across intersections.
- Keep Your Lane - swerving bicyclists are unpredictable and could result in car-bike collisions...be predictable and consistent.
- Watch for the right hook - cars often turn right without looking for a bicyclist coming up behind them (sadly, I've done this - I'm sorry Mr. Biker!). Make eye contact with the driver next to you at intersections or stop behind cars in line, don't ride up to the front using the bike lane.
- Use Care Passing - If you're forced to ride in the traffic lane because there's no room on the side of the road, be bold and assert your right to be there so that cars don't squeeze you out and cause you to lose control or, and this is my personal favorite, find a calmer street (but beware of people not expecting bikes on quiet back roads and zoning out at free-for-all intersections).
Lastly, let me just say that at least in Seattle, there are perks to biking to work beyond the physical and planetary health benefits. Throughout King and Snohomish Counties, vendors have set up stations for bike commuters to pick up t-shirts, water bottles, snacks, maps, and so much more. I'm planning to make a few stops myself. See you on the street!
DISCLAIMER: These pictures were taken in Munich, Germany on vacation last summer. I am not wearing a helmet because the bike rental place didn't have any. Please do not take this blog as a prescription for biking without a helmet. Quite the opposite, always wear a helmet when biking!