Whether itís tough economic times, the urge to go green, or the desire of more Americans to lead healthier lifestyles, bicycling to work is exploding nationwide. With spring in the air, you too may be thinking about dusting off your bike and giving it a try. Whether youíre a novice or a serious biker, with a little planning, biking to and from work can be both fun and safe.
According to a 2009 study by the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of Americans biking to work increased 43 percent between 2000 and 2008. Itís a trend that bicycle manufacturers and designers of bike clothing, believe will continue to grow.
ďMore workplaces are doing more to accommodate employees who bike to work, such as adding showers and bike racks,Ē said Cache Mundy, Pearl Izumiís VP of marketing, ďand, more cities are budgeting for dedicated bike trails and lanes to accommodate the dramatic growth in bike riders.Ē
While biking to work can be fun, help reduce your commuting costs (gas and parking) and lead to a healthier lifestyle there are some precautions that bicyclists, even serious riders, need to take when mixing it up with traffic. With the growing number of Americans riding to work, the number of collisions with motor vehicles has increased, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), but statistically bicycling to work is actually becoming safer as car drivers become more aware and accustomed to sharing the road with bicyclists. In fact, many of those new bikers are motor vehicle drivers themselves.
When crashes occur, often itís because of common errors in judgment on the part of both cyclists and motor vehicle drivers. Regardless of who is at fault in a collision between a motor vehicle driver and bicyclist, itís the biker who often suffers the injury. Thatís why it pays to take extra precautions to reduce your risk of collision. Even serious riders who are familiar with riding alongside cars would do well to carefully plan their trips to and from work. Here are eight tips offered by Pearl Izumi on how you can have more confidence and stay safe while biking to and from work in an urban setting:
1. Plan your route. Map out the safest and most enjoyable bike route from your home to work. Your route should avoid cars, is well traveled by other bikers or runners, and offer easy access to gas stations, bike shops and public transportation (trains or buses) in the event your bike breaks down or you encounter bad weather. Carefully observe your bike route to determine the high risk spots, such as intersections with heavy traffic or streets with lots of parked cars, and road hazards, such as grates, potholes, and spots with sand and loose debris. Talk to your local bike shop for bike route tips, buy a local map that shows designated bike routes and trails, and check out Google.com/Maps to map out a bike-friendly route.
2. Drive Your Bike, Be Seen, and Be Safe. Serious bikers know to drive-their-bike as if they were behind the wheel of a car and how critical it is to wear a bike helmet to prevent head injuries. Equally important is to be seen and that means wearing bright colored jackets, jerseys or shorts, such as a screaming yellow P.R.O. Barrier lite jacket --- especially in low light conditions such as early morning or dusk. Itís vital to equip your bike with front and rear lights and reflectors, and always carry identification on you when you bike and put a card in your wallet with emergency phone numbers should you be injured while biking and are unable to call for help.
3. Bring clothes to work. If you work in a more casual work setting, it may not matter as much, but if your workplace is slightly more formal, you may need to bring in a change of clothes when you drive into work or commute by train or bus. Talk to your local bike store about getting a waterproof backpack or pannier to carry clothes and shoes to work wrinkle free.
4. Gear up. Itís important to be comfortable when you ride to work. Arriving to work cold, wet or with a sore behind will take the fun out of biking to work really fast. Start by investing in a pair of high quality bike shorts or pants that include anatomic 4D chamois technology to make the ride on your behind more comfortable. In-R-Cool fabric technology by Pearl Izumi can help reduce perspiration to keep bikers dryer. Be prepared for unexpected weather changes by packing a water-resistant jacket, arm and leg warmers, and sunglasses.
5. Bike for the streets. Many bike manufacturers now make bikes specifically designed for urban commuting. Serious riders who commute all year round, even in snow, change their tires to match road conditions. Equip your bike with an extra tube for your tire, air pump and an easy-to-access tool set in the event you experience bike trouble.
6. Have a bail-out plan. Expect drivers to act without seeing you. If you see backup lights, expect them to back into your path; if you see drivers parked, expect them to open their doors into your path. Always try to make eye contact with a driver Ė especially at intersections. Wave to a driver if you donít think they see you. If they donít look at you, theyíre probably not seeing you. If they are texting, or gabbing on their cell phones, they wonít see you.
7. Road rage. If you bike frequently enough, eventually youíll encounter an angry driver. All sorts of factors, ranging from bad news at work or home to being late for an appointment can generate road rage. In any road rage situation, the person on the bike is exposed and extremely vulnerable. Do not challenge or confront enraged drivers, or drivers who are drunk, or high on drugs. Apologize, go meekly away, and live to ride another day.
For more information about biking, visit http://www.pearlizumi.com.
Article Published: 04-25-2012