Posted by: Dr. Tyrone A. Holmes | July 28, 2008

Cycle Your Way to Health: Part 3

In Parts 1 and 2 of this series on bicycle commuting, I described 4 important steps you need to take to make your commutes safer and more enjoyable: (1) determine your current level of fitness, (2) get your bike ready, (3) get your gear ready, and (4) learn the rules of the road.  Here are my final 3 suggestions:

1.  Identify a safe route.  Your number one priority is safety so try to identify a route that has relatively little traffic (avoid busy thoroughfares), provides bike paths or trails for part of the ride and has good street conditions (e.g., relatively good pavement, few parked cars).   Visit MapMyRide.com and Bikely.com to develop your own route or review existing routes.  You must also make sure you are comfortable riding in traffic since it is unlikely you will find a bike path to take you all the way to your destination.  If you are relatively new to cycling, practice riding in light traffic until you gain a level of comfort riding with motor vehicles, pausing at stoplights and making left hand turns at 4-way intersections.

2.  Take a Test Ride.  Once you have identified a safe route, ride it at least once on a quiet weekend prior to starting your daily bike commute to work or school.  This serves two purposes.  First, it will help you get comfortable with the route when there is relatively little traffic.  Second, you will get a good idea of how long the trip will take, which will help you get to work on time – a very important consideration!

3.  Consider riding with someone else.  At its best, cycling is a social activity.  See if there is anyone in your workplace who lives near you and might want to ride together.  This provides several benefits.  First, it will increase your motivation to ride knowing that someone is depending on you and is there to support you.  Second, it can be safer riding as a pair since you will be more visible on the road and can help each other in an emergency.  Finally, it’s a lot more fun!

NEXT POST: July 31, 2008

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