(CBS SF) — What’s keeping you from riding your bike to work or school? With Bike To Work Day coming up on May 14, it’s a fine time to reevaluate concerns about transitioning to a two-wheel commute.
Over 62,000 Bay Area residents use a bicycle as a primary mean of getting to work every day, according to the 2013 American Community Survey. On Bike to Work Day, tens of thousands of people are expected to bike to work in the Bay Area with many being first-time biker commuters.
Bike To Work Resources:
If you’re totally new to bike commuting, check out these tips to get you rolling. If you’re still on the fence, then let us deflate the top 9 excuses that prevent you from jumping on the saddle.
1. It’s not safe to ride in traffic.
With 726 deaths per year, there certainly are risks associated with riding a bicycle. Bicycle fatalities represent less than two percent of all traffic fatalities while bicycle trips account for only one percent of all trips in the United States.
Groups like the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition are working to improve the most dangerous streets. About 70 percent of severe and fatal accidents happen on 12 percent of total streets in the city.
But more designated bike lanes with barriers are popping up around San Francisco and the Bay Area. Whether or not these exist yet where you live, you should pick smart routes intended for bicycles. Here are some more tips for staying safe while riding in traffic.
2. I’d have to ride in the dark.
From blinking lights on your helmet, bike or clothes, there are plenty of ways to catch the wandering eyes of distracted motorists.
At a minimum, a white headlight and reflectors are required by law in California when it’s dark.
3. It’s rainy or cold.
California is in a major drought, so you can pretty much assume your commute will be a dry one. And sure, mornings can get chilly, but as any self-respecting Bay Area resident knows: layers, layers, layers.
If you still feel like those balmy 55 degree mornings are too much to bear, you can combine public transportation with your bike ride. You could also drive halfway to work, park and then hop on your bike.
4. There’s no where safe to secure my bike.
Most BART stations have bike lockers and bike stations with — wait for it — free valet. Many schools and offices also offer a safe spot to park your bike inside. But if that’s not an option and you’re left with an outside bike rack, heavy-duty U-locks are your best bet. Just don’t forget to lock-up those quick release tires, too.
5. I have to dress nice for work.
Bring a change of clothes and shower at work if that’s available and you’re concerned about getting sweaty or ruining nice clothes. But overwhelmingly most commuters ride comfortably in work clothes.
And helmet hair? There are ways to deal with it, like this $470 collar helmet from Hovding, which only inflates on impact. But you can also keep a stash of products at your office or plan to hit the gym after the commute but before going into work.
6. I can’t afford a nice commuting bike.
You can find a decent used bike for under $250 on places like Craigslist or at local bike shops. Or, you can sign-up for Bay Area Bike Share for $88 a year and rent one of the 700 bike at 70 stations across 5 different cities.
7. I’m out of shape.
Biking is a gentle work out that like any physical activity, gets easier the more you do it. Start by biking one day a week and build up. And if you’re worried about those steep San Francisco hills, then use Google Maps to find a less treacherous route.
8. I’d have to get up early to ride my bike to work.
In many cases, biking to work is faster than driving or taking public transportation, especially during rush hour.
9. I have too many things to carry.
There’re saddle bags and baskets that will be happy to help you with your load. And backpacks are always a good idea for balancing the weight.