Consider the Bike

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If you live within a few miles of your place of work, consider biking to work instead of driving. If work’s too far away, consider biking around your town to run errands, or just go out for a leisurely ride around your neighborhood.

Why bike?

Health 

  • Physical:
    • According to a study published in the British Medical Journal, “Cycle commuting was associated with a lower risk of CVD, cancer, and all cause mortality.” (https://www.bmj.com/content/357/bmj.j1456)
    • According to a 2017 Washington Post article, “A 2016 study published in Preventive Medicine suggests that in all but the most polluted parts of the world, the health benefits of biking far outweigh the adverse affects of injuries and of breathing in tiny particulate matter (from car exhausts, among other sources) that lodge deep in the lungs and increase the risk of respiratory diseases and even lung cancer.” Good news! It’s recommended to take smaller roads with less traffic to be exposed to less pollution.
    • Biking is easier on the joints, making it a better exercise option for a lot of people.
  • Mental:
    • Starting your day off with a bike ride to work, almost always ensures that you’re arriving more alert and in a better mood.
    • In general any exercise is shown to improve mood and lower chances of depression.

Environment

  • Bikes are powered by people, not gas, and therefore don’t pollute the environment like most cars. Your morning bike ride will help improve air quality.
  • Cycling decreases noise pollution since a bike is much quieter than a car.
  • Finally, you can connect with your community and the environment around you in a different way while biking. Your perspective is quite different, allowing you to notice things in a way you hadn’t before.

Savings

  • Money:
    • Once you have a bike and a helmet, your transportation is essentially free. There’s no gas to put in the bike, and bike tune-ups are by far cheaper than car maintenance.
    • A bike is a free gym. Depending on the length of your commute, your bike ride could become your workout time.
    • No more finding a spot to park your car! This might be one of the biggest advantages for me. I HATE finding parking, and then paying for it. Bike parking is free and plentiful.
  • Time:
    • In many parts of the country, especially in larger cities, biking can reduce your travel time. There’s nothing like zooming by cars sitting in traffic during rush hour.

And let’s not forget the all important feeling of accomplishment!

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Biking Tips & Safety

Rules of the Road: http://www.sfbike.org/resources/bicycle-law/rules-of-the-road/

Theft and Locking: http://www.sfbike.org/resources/theft-locking/

Sharing the Road: http://www.santacruzhealth.org/Portals/7/Pdfs/CTSC/str_trks_buses.pdf

Get Started in Your Area

There are loads of bike advocacy organizations around the country, especially in larger cities. Santa Cruz has Ecology Action, Bike Santa Cruz County, and The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission to name a few. Look for a similar organization in your area to learn more about local bike routes, tips and safety, group rides to get you started, and potentially borrowing bikes to test out.

Nothing in your area? Want a bike lane? Want support from local officials? Organize and contact them!

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Basic Gear

  • Bike (duh): test out different types and learn more about them here
  • Helmet: may not be required for adults in your area, but it’s highly recommended to where one especially when on the road with cars.

Extras that you can get later on in your biking career (or may never need depending on the biking you do).

  • Bike pump
  • Front and rear lights (if you will be riding at night, get these right away!)
  • Clip-in shoes
  • Wind breaker and/or waterproof jacket
  • Rain pants, shoes covers, helmet cover (if you commute in the rain like me)
  • Splash guard
  • Bell
  • Saddle bags or basket for carrying things
  • Water bottle holder

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