Since 1956, May has been called National Bike Month. The advocacy group, League of American Bicyclists, carries on the tradition by working to celebrate and showcase the many benefits gained from incorporating a bicycle into daily life, beyond the goals of fitness and recreation. It’s a hard sell to non-cyclists who imagine commuting by bicycle in the same way as their commute by car: it’s already terrible, so why make it worse by adding morning friction and complexity to an already stressful day?
No Better Time
Commuting by bicycle can be very different, in positive ways, from commuting to work by automobile. You take different roads, you are among like-minded people, and more of your time is spent actively experiencing and engaging with the world around you. The increasing frequency of supportive municipal infrastructure, legislative changes that benefit cyclists, and a wide choice of dependable machines and new technologies, all join to make this the best time to make bicycling part of your work life.
Charting Your Course
Naturally, every region has a unique set of circumstances to consider. Many trails available to bikes bisect large areas and allow a ride with no traffic and no stopping. Combine that with public transit and you can find very efficient and direct routes that will join your home to your desk chair. Use one of the many mobile apps designed to do just this, or, at the very least, Google Maps, which will give you a solid start to navigating your route. Select “Bike” as your mode of travel. As expected from an algorithmic navigation, there may be some quirks, but it’s an excellent beginning to plotting your course.
Once you have a general idea of the distances and specifics of your commute, the next consideration would be the type of bicycle you’ll ride. How far will you be going? Unrealistic distances can doom long-term compliance due to the short recovery time available to a regularly commuting cyclist. Start slowly and work your way into commuting every day or consider an e-bike or public transit to cover large distances.
This past year, legislative protections afforded to e-bikes in California now allow certain types to be used on all bike paths and trails. Although their speed is capped at 20mph, the ability to carry cargo and maintain a higher average speed makes them a compelling option in SoCal. Additionally, e-bikes have come down in price with the distance range on a single charge numbering in the triple digits. Further, combined with the extensive SoCal infrastructure developed by municipalities that continues to expand every year, the e-bike has the potential to replace the second vehicle in a two-vehicle household.
Perform Better at Life
Some initial complexities will need to be worked out, but the long-term benefits of bicycling to work are well worth it. Those benefits aren’t just the individual health, environmental or social benefits. After adopting a consistent routine of commuting by bicycle, you’ll look, feel and perform *better* at life. Productivity at work will increase or you’ll be inspired to make a change. Your sleep will improve and be more restful. And you’ll spend less time trapped in your car, isolated from the natural world. We’re living at a time when “rush-hour” isn’t a specific time, but a state of being for most southland freeways and a state of mind for many commuters. And it’s not getting better. Why not make the most of the short time we have on this cosmic ride and spend it experiencing the richness of the world around you?