There are so many reasons to ride a bicycle. First, it is much cheaper than driving your car to work, to the store, or when you are just heading out. Second, it is great exercise. Third, it is affordable, once you procure a bicycle. Bicycle commuting has taken off in recent years, perhaps due to higher gasoline prices. The number of round trips made by bicycles in the U.S. has increased from 1.7 billion in 2001, to over 4 billion in 2009.
BFC stands for Bicycle Friendly Communities, of which there are many. Moving here to the Fresno/Clovis area, I see much more bicycle paths and bicycle lanes on the roads than in the SF Bay Area. Many BFC’s across the country have seen their bicycle commuter rates more than double since 2000. California is in the top ten for bicycle friendly states, as you might expect. We also have 55 BFCs, and 13 bicycle friendly universities, led by U.C. Davis.
For me, the two most important pieces of bicycle safety equipment are a properly fitted helmet, and brakes that work on demand. I also wear bright colors, either neon green or bright orange. I generally never ride at night, unless in a large group. So, if you do ride at night, please have both front and rear lights.
One of the most frequent complaints from automobile drivers is the cyclists conformity to the rules of the road. In both cases, drivers and cyclists, I think things have gotten better. Many drivers give extra room to cyclists when they can. Cyclists need to follow the same rules as a motor vehicle. My best suggestion for both is the be predictable! Do not make sudden stops or turns.
Changing gears, so to speak, I really enjoy the bike sharing programs prevalent in many communities. I first tried one in Washington, DC. And most recently, I used Velib in Paris, though it is not much fun to ride a bicycle in Paris traffic. I even saw a bike sharing program in Quito, Ecuador two years ago!
There are many places a bicycle is not going to work. One would be Venice, Italy with its waterways and cobblestone streets. Another would be Anchorage, Alaska in the middle of winter. But I take my bicycle whenever I take a car trip. It works well in places like the Bay Area, Los Angeles, San Diego, the central coast, Las Vegas, Scottsdale, and Sacramento.
This was the 21st Bike to Work Day in the SF Bay Area. One of the most enjoyable parts of Bike to Work Day are the energizer stations, staffed by volunteers. They hand out snacks, small bicycle related gifts, road safety brochures, and water. More than one million people live within 5 miles of their workplace! The work commute is only 23% of all trips, so going to the store, visiting friends, and other social events might be growth areas for bicycle rides. In the Bay Area, 62,000 people bicycle commuted to work in 2013.
Many people, including myself, will tell you how much cycling has changed their life in a positive manner. First, the exercise is highly cardio, and relieves much of the stress on joints caused by running and tennis. Second, cycling enables you to see a wider perimeter of the areas that you live and work. And three, I have made many new friends through cycling, and cycling groups.