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Bike to Work and Try Something New!

If you feel bored with your commute to work, it may be time to switch things up. A bike ride can be a delightful way…

on May 5, 2022
Cyclist couple riding together in a park

Cyclist couple riding together in a park

If you feel bored with your commute to work, it may be time to switch things up. A bike ride can be a delightful way to travel. And since Friday is Bike to Work Day, now is a great time to try something new and plan for a pleasant bike ride to work! 

Why ride your bike to work?

Biking is affordable.

Biking can be a very affordable way to get around. In recent months, gas prices have been very high. Public transportation can also be expensive, especially for people who use it twice a day. There are not many costs to bike except for standard maintenance. 

Biking improves health.

A bike ride is an excellent way to complete your exercise for the day. Riding a bike at a moderate pace can burn hundreds of calories and build leg muscles. Bike riding can also lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Bike riding helps the environment.

Cars are harmful to the environment. Pollution and greenhouse gases increase climate change. Fewer cars on the road will help slow down climate change. Bikes are a very sustainable way to travel.

If you have decided to ride your bike to work on Friday, that is great! But before you leave, though, make sure you know how to stay safe and protect yourself from common hazards when bike riding in a city.

How to ride your bike safely

Wear a helmet

A helmet is the most important purchase you need to make to ride your bike. Helmets are the best defense you have to protect your head from catastrophic injury if you fall off your bike. People under the age of 18 in Montgomery County are required to wear a helmet and state law requires children under 16 to wear a helmet. But helmets are a good idea for anyone of any age!

Helmets are affordable, and you can buy one in any sporting goods store. You may also be able to find them in secondhand stores. If you cannot purchase one right now, ask a family member or a neighbor to borrow theirs.

Learn more about bike helmets and bike safety.

Use the bike lane

Bike lanes are the best way to stay safe on your bike ride. Bike lanes are lanes designated for people who are on a bike. You can find bike lanes between the street and sidewalk. Riders can quickly identify them by street markings.

You can find bike lanes all over Montgomery County. Prince George’s County also offers some bike lanes, though many bikers in the community believe that more work should be done to improve lanes in the county.

Bike lanes are a safe way to ride your bike but remember that it is essential to always be cautious. Accidents still happen in bike lanes. So keep your attention on who is around you and where you are going!

If you live in a city that does not use bike lanes, you will likely need to share the road with motorists. It may seem a little scary to ride your bike next to cars, but you can protect yourself and others through a few safe practices.

Come to a complete stop at red lights and stop signs

Everyone can be a little impatient sometimes. Since we are on a bike, we may believe that we do not need to stop at stop signs or wait for red lights to change. But that can be very dangerous. If we skip red lights and stop signs, we increase the chance that a car may hit us. So it is a good idea to always wait until it is our turn to go.

Let drivers know what you plan to do

Bicycles do not often have turn signals, and you cannot assume that drivers will know what you plan to do. When you want to turn left or right, you need to let the cars around you know by pointing your arm in the direction you intend to go. Drivers will slow down and give you the space you need once they see where you plan to turn.

Bike riding on the sidewalk

Bike riding on the sidewalk is legal in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. Still, it is not generally a safe way to bike. Pedestrians can be very unpredictable. In addition, they often use their phones or listen to music as they walk, which decreases the likelihood they will notice bike riders around them.

If you need to ride on the sidewalk, you need to be extra cautious. You can keep yourself and pedestrians safe by announcing yourself when you want to pass. When you are ready to pass someone, yell out, “on your left!” to let them know you will be passing on the left. Your announcement alerts people in front of you and gives them time to move out of your way.

Wear bright clothes

If you arrive to work early in the morning or leave late in the evening, it is good to wear bright clothes to help you stand out to drivers and pedestrians.

Walk your bike when you need to

There may be times when you enter a four-way intersection or a road that is especially busy with cars. It is always OK to get off your bike and briefly walk it where you need to go. Always remember that safety needs to come first!

Be defensive

Yield to cars whenever you have to. Stop even if it is your turn to go. If you see an aggressive driver, move out of the way. When you ride your bike with defense, you protect yourself and others around you. 

What if you do not have access to a bike?

If you do not own a bike and cannot borrow one but still want to change your commute, there are other ways to get to work that allow you to save money, promote good health, and help the environment.

Walk

If you can move around with little problem and your work is not too far from your home, walking is the best alternative to biking. Walking is very good for both our physical and mental health. It is also free, which is always nice! A good walk may be what you need to change things up in your commute.

Ride the bus

Buses are not the perfect transportation method. They create air pollution, and they still cost money to ride. But they are a great option. Buses decrease the number of cars on the road, which is better for the planet. And though the bus is not free, it costs much less to ride the bus than to drive a car!

Carpool

If you have a co-worker near you, you may want to ask them to join you in a carpool. A carpool can be a much more affordable option since you and your co-worker will share the cost of gas. It can also be a great way to make a friend outside of work and get to know your co-workers personally.

It is always fun to do something new once in a while. A bike ride may be what you need to energize your commute. If you cannot bike ride, you can try another option. But no matter what you do, you should feel proud that you are willing to step outside of your comfort zone!


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