May 23rd, 2008
We hear a lot these days about the price of gas, energy efficiency, and the like. But, in the United States, outside of a few progressive cities, there aren’t a lot of people that are using the ultimate zero-emissions transportation technology: bicycles.
That’s really too bad, because bicycles are a lot cheaper to operate than cars even before you consider gas prices. They also are great exercise and are probably faster, safer, and more convenient than you think.
I live about 10 miles (16 km) from work, which includes several miles on sand roads. I haven’t bicycled in about 6 years. Last week, I got my bicycle out, touched it up a bit, and started riding. Sunday I rode in to work and back as a test. As soon as I get a bit of gear (hopefully by the middle of next week), I plan to start riding bike to work at least 3 days a week.
I’ve picked up some tips along the way. Let’s talk about a few of them.
Many people think bicycling is dangerous. In fact, bicycling is about as safe as driving an SUV. Not only that, but only 10% of bicycling accidents occur when you are hit from behind (and 90% of those produce only minor injuries). It turns out that the vast majority of bicycling accidents occur because people are not riding on the road with traffic, or are acting unpredictably. Following some basic safety advice can make you safer in a bicycle than an SUV. Oh, and don’t drink and ride; 24% of fatal bicycle accidents involve an intoxicated rider.
Think it’s too far? Think again. It’s fairly easy for an untrained, unfit person to ride a bicycle up to 10 miles without working hard at it. That can probably be done in about an hour. As you get more fit and used to the bike, you may be able to go that distance in half that time. Also, get pannier bags for your bicycle. They attach in back and let you carry work clothes, laptops, etc. without having to use a backpack.
I’m excited about it, and will be sure to post more here on how it goes.