As you’ll soon see, bike commuting is for everybody. If you’re an experienced cyclist, bike commuting is a way to sneak in hundreds, if not thousands, of training miles. But if you haven’t ridden a bike since you got a set of car keys, bike commuting can be a wonderful way to get reacquainted with your youthful, exuberant self. By following some basic traffic-safety tips and riding advice, you can get to work safely, quickly, and best of all, happily because it’s FUN.
Watch the video below of Dr. Michael Cropp, President and CEO of Independent Health, about why he bicycles to work.
First thing is to get your bicycle tuned up and ready to ride.
Our community workshop located at 98 Colvin Avenue (near the corner of Linden Ave., in the former police precinct building just North of Delaware Park) is open every Tuesday and Thursday evening from 7:30pm – 10pm and Sunday from 1pm – 5pm.
You can stop by the shop during any of our regularly scheduled hours and work with our professional mechanics to learn how to fix and repair bicycles. Put some time in with us and you have access to our tools to put your newly found skills to the test. Not to worry, we will help you out along the way.
There is an assortment of accessories such as fenders and racks that could be equipped for your commuting needs.
We also have bicycles for sale. You can speak to one of the mechanics on duty the night you stop in. There is always an assortment of bicycles recycled and ready to ride.
You can also visit your local bike shop for a tune up, tools, and tips. Employees will make sure your bike fits well, works properly and that you have the knowledge and accessories you need to ride regularly.
The one essential accessory is a bike helmet. These come in many styles and colors. Chances are you’ll never need it, but you’ll be eternally grateful you had it on if you do. Today’s helmets are light, airy, and comfortable. Most important, they reduce risk of head injury by 85%.
Bicycle Benefits is a year-round community wide program designed to reward cyclists with incentives offered by local businesses. The way it works is simple, businesses sign-up to offer the incentive and a list of the incentives is generated at the website. A sticker identifies the business as a participating member and cyclists can get the discount with a purchase of a sticker that is placed on their bicycle helmet. Helmet stickers must be shown in order to receive the incentive, just another reason to use your helmet. Click here to find businesses particpating in Buffalo!
Both shops are regular supporters of GO Bike Buffalo and you can often find their mechanics at our workshop helping after hours.
Selecting Your Route
This has recently just got a lot easier with Google adding “By Bicycle” as part of the options for directions. The Google biking directions will make it that much easier for you to bicycle to work. The feature includes: step-by-step bicycling directions, bike trails outlined directly on the map, and a new ”Bicycling” layer that indicates bike trails, bicycle lanes and bike-friendly roads.
The directions feature provides step-by-step bike specific routing suggestions. Simply enter a start point and destination and select “Bicycling” from the drop down menu. You will receive a route that is optimized for cycling taking advantage of bike trails, bike lanes and bicycle-friendly streets and avoiding hilly terrain whenever possible – not that we have that to worry about here in Buffalo.
As a rule of thumb, commuting to work will take about twice as long as driving, though a study by New York City’s Transportation Alternatives shows that trips less than 3 miles are often faster by bike, and those 5 to 7 miles long take about the same time.
Can’t commit to a long commute? Cut it in half. The first day, drive to work with your bike, and then ride home that night. Ride to work the next morning, then drive home, and so on. Or drive halfway to a mall or other safe place, park your car, and ride the rest of the way.
You can also tie in transit. The metro rail allows bicycles on the trains and many busses are now equipped with bicycle racks – although more could be done here, you can visit NFTA for more information.
There are a number of ways you can carry the items you’d normally bring to work. One of the most popular is a simple backpack which is spacious enough to hold the essentials without bogging you down. You also can buy specific bike messenger bags. If you have a rear rack, you can bungee strap a bag on the back of your bike. Some commuters prefer to use panniers, bags that attach to your frame. A bike shop can show you your options.
Along with your basic necessities, such as tools, change of clothes, and personal-hygiene items, you might consider carrying a cell phone and some spare cash in the case of emergency. If you have too much to carry, simply drive to work once or twice a week, carrying a few days’ worth of clothes and essentials, so you carry less when you ride.
Bicycle Rules of the Road
Bicyclists are required to follow the same road rules as cars. This is important for your personal safety. A major concern many bike commuters have is the potential dangers of riding in traffic. Cyclists who learn and obey the rules of the road have 80% fewer collisions than those who do not. Here are essential safety tips.
• Ride on the right. Riding against traffic is a major cause of bicycle accidents.
• Be predictable. Avoid sudden swerves and stops.
• Be visible. Wear bright, reflective clothing. Use lights and reflectors in low-light conditions.
• Follow and obey signs, signals, and pavement markings.
• Signal when you are turning or stopping. Look over your left shoulder for traffic before you make a move. This also signals motorists.
• Yield to pedestrians.
• Watch for road hazards such as broken glass, gravel, and potholes.
• Position yourself appropriately. On wide roads, ride 3-4 feet to the right of cars in the traffic lane; on narrow roads, stay just inside the traffic lane so vehicles must partly cross the middle line to pass. (This removes the temptation to squeeze by you.)
• For turns, work your way into the proper lane 150 feet early; if you can’t get in by 40 to 50 feet before the turn, go straight and double back. Stay at least a foot away from the curbs, where debris accumulates. Always allow enough room for a car door to open when passing parked vehicles, and never weave in and out of traffic between parked cars
• Ride defensively and respectfully. Watch for people who may not be looking for you, and be courteous to other users of the road.
A complete list of New York State Vehicle and Traffic Laws as it pertains to bicyclists can be found by visiting the Governor Traffic Safety Committee’s website.
Bike with Your Fellow Employees
There are likely other people at your workplace who love to or used to ride regularly, but have never considered cycling to work. Ask around or post a memo and gather names to form a “Bike Buddy” club. Compare routes, and plan to catch up with each other along the way. Pair veteran cyclists with new riders to further encourage interested newcomers to pick up the cycling habit.
Enlist Your Employer
Your boss and business can reap countless rewards by encouraging bike commuting. Regular exercisers have fewer sick days, cheaper health claims, and more productivity than sedentary employees. Fewer cars in the parking lot means less congestion. And by encouraging employees to leave their cars at home, even once a week, your business is being a good corporate citizen and community member by easing traffic volume and local air and noise pollution. Some companies give gift certificates or health points to those biking or walking to work. Talk to your employee transportation coordinator or human resources manager about bike-to-work initiatives that may be available. Also, inquire about creating bike parking, clothing storage, shower facilities, and other workplace amenities that would make bike commuting more attractive to employees.
As an additional benefit to an employer for encouraging bicycle commuting is the qualified bicycle commuting reimbursement, which was added to the list of qualified transportation fringe benefits covered in section 132 (f) of the Internal Revenue Service Code on January 1, 2009. The intent of the provision is to provide a simple, equitable solution to put cyclists on the same footing as people who receive qualified transportation benefits (QTFs) for taking transit or driving (or parking, actually) their cars to and from work. It was intended that the bike commuting benefit would be treated the same as the other QTF’s.
To find out more, the League of American Bicyclists has provided a Frequently Asked Questions page to help you identify how companies are implementing this benefit, what costs are covered, who is eligible, etc. For more information visit the League of American Cyclists.
For more information or to speak with us directly:
640 Ellicott Street Suite 447 • Buffalo, NY 14203