By Matt Walthour
MAYbe you should ride?
It’s that time of year to celebrate the power of the bicycle, the freedoms, the opportunities to see things you may have never seen, to get healthier, and well, just to plain old ride your bicycle. The reason you may ask? It is because May is considered National Bike Month. Officially, Bike-to-Work Week 2012 is from May 14-18 and Bike-to-Work Day is on Friday, May 18. There is also a Bike to School day for the kids and well, even the adults. That day is May 9.
Not only is commuting to work great for the environment, it also has great health benefits, one of which is it will keep you much more awake and aware at work and school!! If you are thinking it’s much too difficult to bike to work, sorry, but I covered a lot of your possible excuses or fears below:
The roads aren’t safe
• Obey traffic signs, ride on the right, signal turns, and stop at lights.
• Wear bright clothing.
• You are at no greater risk than driving a car.
• Wear a helmet every time you ride.
• Ride on the sidewalks, it’s allowed on Marco Island, and in many other cities, but be sure you alert pedestrians you are approaching them.
I have to run errands
• Bolt a rack to the back of your bike or a basket to the front to add carrying capacity.
• Make sure that you have a lock to secure your bike while you are in a building.
• Allow extra time to get to scheduled appointments and find parking.
I’m out of shape
• Ride at an easy pace; in a few months you will be in a lot better shape.
• Ride your route on a weekend to find the easiest way to work.
• You will improve your fitness level when you become a regular bike commuter.
It takes too long
• The average commuter travels at 10 mph; the more you ride, the faster you will become.
• Trips of less than three miles will be quicker by bike.
• Trips of five to seven miles in urban areas may take the same time or less as by car.
It’s too far
• Try riding to work and taking mass transit home or having a friend pick you up, then alternating the next day.
• Ride to a coworker’s house and carpool to work.
No bike parking
• Look around for a storage area in your building or office.
• Stash your bike in a covered, secure place such as a closet or even your office.
• Formally request that your employer provide bike parking or lock it up outside.
My bike is beat up
• Go to your local bike shop and let them know that you are commuting and have them tune up your bike.
• Make sure that your bike is reliable and in good working order before you ride.
• Most commuters don’t shower at work; ride at an easy pace to stay cool and dry.
• Ride home at a fast pace if you want a workout; shower when you get there.
I have to dress up
• Keep multiple sets of clothing at work; rotate them on days you drive.
• Have work clothes cleaned at nearby laundromats or dry cleaners.
• Pack clothes with you and change at work.
• Fenders for your bike and raingear for your body will keep you dry.
• If you are at work, take transit or carpool to get home; ride home the next day.
• Take transit or drive if you don’t have the gear to ride comfortably in the rain.
As in the last 10 years, Wednesday, May 16th is the National Ride of Silence. To remember and show respect for people who have been killed or injured while cycling. This year, as last year, they will leave from Centennial Park under the bridge in Fort Myers at 7 PM. This ride will be eight miles and will take approximately one hour to complete. HELMETS ARE REQUIRED. Slow speed and silence of riders is requested as a demonstration of respect.
Now you have a good starting to point to get ready to ride the month of May. Who knows, if you already don’t, you may continue throughout the year. Pedal on!!!
Matt Walthour, a Marco Island resident since 1985 is a graduate from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, and is the owner of Island Bike Shop and Scootertown on Marco Island and Naples. He is also a member of the Marco Island bike path ad-hoc committee.