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Bicycle Commuting FAQ's

What right does a cyclist have to the road? A cyclist has all the same rights, as well as the same responsibilities, as operators of other vehicles.

Isn't bicycling on busy roads dangerous? No. A knowledgable cyclist faces no greater risk of serious injury than a car driver.

How can I be safe in heavy traffic? By operating your bicycle as a vehicle, learning "Effective Cycling" technique, and obeying the traffic laws.

How do I learn this "Effective Cycling"? The book "Effective Cycling" by John Forester, ISBN 0-262-56070-4 can be purchased for around $20. "Effective Cycling" courses are offered by the League of American Bicyclists; unfortunately there are none currently available in the Columbia area.

Are the reflectors that came with my bike adequate for night riding? No! In fact, they are not even legal. The law requires a headlamp for night riding. If you plan to ride after dark, make yourself as visible as possible with front and rear lights, lots of reflective tape, and light colored or reflective clothing.

How do I get in shape to bike to work? You don't need to. Being in excellent cardiovascular condition is a result of biking to work, not a requirement.

What kind of a bike do I need? Any bike that fits you properly and is in good mechanical condition can be a commuter bike. Some commuters actually prefer "junker" bikes as they are less prone to theft.

How do I carry all my stuff? There are many options. For many a backpack works fine. For longer distances or heavier loads, a rack and panniers is more comfortable. A cheaper solution is to tie-wrap a basket to a rack, and bungee your backpack to that.

What about appearances? How do I prevent my clothes from wrinkling? An easy solution is to leave one or more sets of "business attire" at work on a day that you drive in. When carrying your clothes, rolling rather than folding them can reduce wrinkling. For advanced bike commuters, there are cycling garment bags available.

What about personal hygiene? Many commuters find that simply taking a few minutes to freshen up in the restroom at work is sufficient. You may also be able to use showers and lockers at your work, or at a nearby gym—look around. During non-summer months or if your commute is short, you may find that you don't even break a sweat on your ride.

What about the weather? It may rain! Normally just wearing a waterproof shell is sufficient. It is more important to keep your change of clothes dry! Slip them into a plastic bag before putting them in the backpack.

What if I live far from work? A distance of 15 or more miles can make bike commuting difficult. Consider driving part way, then riding the rest. Ride from your home to a carpool location (could be a friends house). Instead of biking to work, try biking instead of driving on your shorter trips, like going to the corner store to pick up a quart of milk.

What if I need my car to run errands during lunch? Drive to work with your bike (and a change of clothes!). Ride home that night, then ride to work the next morning. Your car & clothes will be waiting for you.


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