Around 90% of Americans commute to work alone in their cars. This is a staggering number, and is responsible for massive amounts of greenhouse gasses released into the atmosphere and other environmental issues. But, you may ask, what other choice do we have? In truth, there are many solutions. You could take buses, or carpool, both of those reduce emissions. However, even better for those who live near their office, is to bike to work.
There are many advantages to biking to work. First of all, its eco-friendly. The only thing giving out CO2 in this system is you. In addition, in cities with substantial traffic bike riding will typically get you to your destination faster than cars or subways. Also, it's inexpensive as any bike in proper working condition will do. A top of the line bike may be nice to have but you do not need it in order to commute.
Some of the things you do need however are reflective clothing. Even if it is just a vest, it dramatically improves how well drivers can see you during low light, which can save your life. A helmet is also necessary, and can save you from serious injury or worse. If you bike at night then lights are a good thing to have, both on the front and rear of the bike. They allow drivers to see you even better than the reflective clothes, as well as improving your vision.
Biking has many stigmas, and many people consider it a recreational activity not a mode of transportation. Let's talk a little bit about some of the myths that surround biking.
- It's too dangerous! It's true that biking can be a dangerous activity; however anything can be dangerous if done improperly. If you look at the statistics, you will realize that biking carries less risk than other commonly used methods of transportation. When compared to driving to work, biking has around half the fatalities per million hours that driving has, and around 35 times less than motorcycling. When measured in deaths per billions of kilometers, walking is three times more dangerous than biking.
- I will stink! Much of this depends on the season, and where you live/work and how aggressively you ride. If it is summer in Texas, then yes, you will likely smell when you arrive at work. However, check with your office to see if there is a gym with a shower nearby, or even one somewhere in the office. Even if there is no shower, a wet towel in a bathroom can do a lot of good if you bring some spare clothes in your backpack.
- It will make me impotent. As crazy as it sounds, there are links with biking and erectile dysfunction. However, this is primarily a concern for people who put in serious hours per week riding and/or for people who bike competitively on an ill-fitting seat. For your daily commute, biking may actually improve performance, as you will get in better shape. If you are still nervous, there are special seats that will prevent pressure from being applied to sensitive areas.
- It is too far to ride. Even if the distance seems too far try riding it on the weekend to see what it's like, you might find it's not too bad after all. And, if it really is too far to bike, some buses have bike racks which you can attach your bikes to, or you can even buy bikes which can fold up so you can go partway to work on the bus.
As long as you adhere to the standard traffic laws, and do nothing unpredictable, biking is a safe, quick, easy, and fun way to conserve our Earth's resources, and cut down on carbon emissions. So what are you waiting for? Take your car off the road, and get to biking!