Chapter 2 NO EXCUSES, BIKE TO WORK
go. Ask in your neighbourhood bike shop. Local knowledge is essential. Unless you’re one of the lucky ones who have a traffic-free bike path from your house to your workplace, you’re going to have to mix with motorised traffic at some point. In city centers during rush hour, cars and lorries can oftentimes chug along at a snail’s pace because they’re gummed up in jams. It’s a joy to pass stationary traffic as you speed into work. When cars are not stationary, they go very fast to the next stop sign or red light. Never lose concentration, look out for poor drivers (ie most of them). Assume you’re invisible (except when you’re doing something you shouldn’t, then you stick out like a sore thumb all of a sudden). Don’t be timid when riding city streets, don’t be squeezed into the gutter, claim your road space, you’ve as much right to be there as cars, lorries and buses (they are there under licence, you’re there by right). If you’ve not biked in traffic ever, or not for some time, get yourself on an adult cycle proficiency course, or get a confident city cyclist to show you the ropes. Cycle advocacy and campaign groups often have members who help out in this respect. In the UK, the Company of Cyclists of York runs ‘Get Cycling to Work’ schemes for companies. In Austin, Texas, the Austin Cycling Association offers a ‘Street Cycling Class’ for beginners. Some Austin bike shops sell a ‘start bike comuting’ package that includes sending a Street Cycling-certified employee to your home to ride with you the first time you make the commute. There are also companies which can hook you up with confident city cyclists (these online services tend also to be car-pool hook-ups). In the UK, sign up with www.bikebudi.com, in the US, www.ridespring.com. So-called ‘smog masks’ – which filter out precious little city gunk, despite proud claims – are as necessary for motoring as they are for cycling. In fact, more so. Research shows that motorists are sitting targets: they breathe in two to three times more pollution than cyclists, who sit high above the fumes. Automobile air-conditioning systems do not remove PM10s, the sooty particulates produced by diesel engines. Cyclists who are breathing hard are rapidly clearing their lungs out as they exercise. Motorists don’t.
“Bikes don’t have air-con, I don’t want to breathe in city fumes”
50 pages of bicycling to work goodness, presented by Momentum Magazine.