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The Green Life: How Not to Bike to Work

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May 16, 2014

How Not to Bike to Work

National Bike to Work DayHappy Bike to Work Day! If you’re already a cycling commuter, pat yourself on the back. If you’re new to the game, you may be concerned about doing it wrong. Here are 6 bike-to-work mistakes to avoid:

1. Don’t ride like Alec Baldwin.

2. Leave your Pinarello Dogma at home. A commuter bike should be sturdy, serviceable, and not too expensive. (Despite one’s best efforts, theft happens.) There’s no reason to go out and buy something new just to commute on--unless, of course, you really need a cool new ride.

3. No more spandex than necessary. Really, it’s not necessary to go the full Tour de France route just to ride 4 miles to the office. Besides, many would-be cyclists actually have a fear of spandex, and seeing lots of folks riding in street clothes puts them at ease.  (On top of that, Invista, the maker of Lycra, is owned by the Koch brothers.)

4. Mind the high heels--it’s very difficult to pull off. (However, it can be done.)

5. Don’t be a jerk. Even though you are addressing climate disruption, creating a more livable city, and adding years to your life, you are still (technically, at least) subject to the vehicle code, not to mention the laws of physics. Blowing through stop lights, besides being really stupid, only serves to aggravate drivers and turn off would-be cycling commuters. Remember, for cyclists there is safety in numbers: the more people who ride, the safer it is for everyone.

6. Your virtue does not illuminate you. It’s less of an issue in sunny May, but if your commute has you travelling in the early morning or later evening hours, lights fore and aft are a necessity. Without them you are invisible to many motorists, and even if you think you can avoid them they will find a way to ruin your ride. 

--image coutesy of iStock/annie-claude

PAUL RAUBER is a senior editor at Sierra. He is the author, with Carl Pope, of the happily outdated Strategic Ignorance: Why the Bush Administration Is Recklessly Destroying a Century of Environmental ProgressOtherwise he is a cyclist, cook, and dad. Follow him on Twitter @paulrauber

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