Why you should bike to work and how to stay safe while you do

Commuting to work can try anyone’s patience, especially with all of the road problems Atlanta has been facing lately. Atlanta traffic can be really awful at the best of times, and that traffic can be costly in terms of gas and car repairs. But we’ve got a solution to this problem that will help you be healthier and save money.

You can ride your bike to work.

The benefits of biking to work:

There are lots of reasons that biking to work is a good idea. Sometimes being on two wheels is just better than being on four. It’s not a bad idea to consider digging your bike out of the garage or storage room and dusting off your old helmet. Here are 4 reasons that you might want to bike to work.

1. Biking to work can save you money.

It’s true. Biking to work is more economical than driving. When you take your car to work, you face gas expenses (which go up the longer you have to sit in Atlanta traffic.) You burn through a lot of fuel when you’re crawling along.

You can also save money on parking costs. It’s hard to find parking in the city. And when you finally find that coveted parking spot, you might be dismayed at how much you have to pay for it. You might need to rent a space in a parking deck downtown, which gets extremely pricey. Even public parking lot costs add up after a while. Save yourself the trouble of trying to find a parking spot. And the trouble of having to pay for it.

You’ll also save money on car repairs and maintenance. If you give your car a much-needed rest, you’ll put less wear and tear on it.

2. Biking is better for the environment.

Have you ever been driving to work and noticed the haze of smog hanging over Atlanta? Air pollution is a huge problem, and cars are a major pollutant. Atlanta’s really in love with cars, meaning that tons of gross emissions and gasses are being pumped into the air. These emissions lead to smog, and smog makes it hard to breathe. Bikes are emission-free, and if you bike you’ll contribute to cleaner, safer air.

3. Biking is great for physical fitness.

It’s nice to get a workout in without having to go to the gym. Most of the US population lives within a five-mile radius of where they work, which by bike isn’t really that far. To do some quick math: if you bike at 10-12mph, you’ll get there in about half an hour. Not bad, considering that you get to exercise for close to the same amount of time that you’d be stuck in traffic. Biking is nice and healthy for your body, and you can set your own pace. There’s no need to be an Olympic cyclist on your way to work.

Stay safe while you’re biking to work.

If we’ve convinced you to try biking to work, it’s important that you stay safe. We’ve put together some safety tips to help you have a smooth ride to work.

1. Wear a helmet.

Seriously. Helmets are cool. Here are some things to keep in mind about your head gear:

  • The Consumer Product Safety Commission even took the time to create standards to regulate helmet safety—that’s how important helmets are. So make sure your helmet has a fancy CPSC sticker or proof of approval from the CPSC. Your helmet should cover your forehead and you should always buckle up your straps.
  • To improve the effectiveness and life of your helmet, have a place to store your helmet. Don’t toss it around when it’s not on your head.
  • You can also make yourself more visible to drivers by putting reflective stickers on your helmet.
  • If you’re in a crash or if you have a fall, you may need to replace your helmet. It might have been damaged, so if you were to have another accident it might not do its job and protect you.

2. Try to stick to bike paths/routes as much as possible.

Map out a route that allows you to stay on bike paths. This will keep you safer than if you have to share your space with drivers.

3. Practice your path ahead of time.

Once you know the route you want to take, give it a try, preferably on the weekend. It’s best to be familiar with your route.

4. Learn the laws of the land.

You’re subject to the same rules of the road that drivers are. Follow the rules so that you lower your risk of a crash.

5. Brush up on your hand signals.

It’s important that motorists know what you’re planning to do. Know how to signal a turn or a stop, and get into the habit of using these signals.

6. Dress to impress.

First, wear bright colored clothing. Drivers can see you more easily if you’re wearing bright or reflective clothing. You can always bring a change of clothes to work.

Second, wear sneakers when you bike. Bring along your work shoes and stash your sneakers under your desk.

Third, don’t wear loose clothing or let the straps of your backpack fly around. You don’t want anything to get caught on your bike, as this could cause you to fall or spiral out of control.

7. Be aware of your surroundings.

That means keeping an eye on the cars around you. Make eye contact with drivers to make sure that they know what you’re planning. If you come to a busy intersection, hop off and walk your bike through it instead of riding. 

Also, look at the road ahead of you. Make sure that the road’s clear. It wouldn’t be fun to hit a bump or pothole. You could end up airborne. Not good.

8. Don’t try any stunts.

Keep your hands on the handlebars.  Make sure that you keep control of your bike. Steering is important.

9. Bring H20.

Make sure to stay hydrated by bringing water with you for your ride, especially if the temperature is going to be hot or humid—does that sound like a city you know?

Biking to work can save you money, help the environment, and help you stay fit. Even if you don’t bike to work every single day, planning to bike a few times a week is good for you. But remember—safety first.

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