On average, more than two million people bike to work daily across the nation. Although bike enthusiasts have chosen this route for many years, even those less thrilled about combining their workout and commute started choosing two-wheel transportation in 2007 -- particularly when gas prices spiked, public transportation cut services to accommodate its deficit, and the recession started.
Between 2007 and 2008, New York City saw a 35 percent jump in its number of cycling commuters. But the growth is not only an urban trend -- every city that tracks cyclist commutes has seen double-digit growth in the last several years, said Garry, communications director of transportation alternatives in New York City.
We're lucky enough to be able to store our bikes in our bike room, and there's a shower available for those of us who'd like to wash up after our commute. Although not all companies have the same spaces, we encourage you to ask your employer to install a bike rack near your office entrance to make commuting easier. If that's not possible, just ask for permission to keep your bike in your cube. After all, research shows that healthy, fit employees are more productive.
Ready to take off for your first bike commute? Follow our five tips to get there quickly and safely.
1. Outline your route. The route with the quickest driving time doesn't always equate to the one with the safest bike route. Use neighborhood streets like the ones your kids use to walk to school as often as possible. Mapmyride.com is a great way to determine the safest course. Google maps also has an option for bike riders.
2. Use all the space you need. Bicycles have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicles. You can use a whole car lane, especially if you're with a friend. You don't want to be caught in the four inches of space between a parked car and traffic.
3. Wear a helmet. They're not required in many states, but they're always recommended. Get a helmet that fits properly, too. It won't help you if it falls off when you crash.
4. Find cool accessories for your bike. You'll need a loud bell to warn people that you're coming, as well as front and rear reflectors or lights to make you visible to motorists. Those who carry briefcases or backpacks should consider getting a basket for the front or one for each side of his or her bike. If you avoid carrying a backpack, you'll lessen the stress on your back and have an easier time riding.
5. Lose the sky-high heels. Wear close-toed shoes while you ride to protect your feet. You'll also be safer wearing comfortable, tighter clothing. Loose fitting skirts and pants can get caught in bike chains.