Imagine if biking to work was safe and easy for everyone. Friday May 21st was National Bike to Work Day, and I spent a beautiful morning sipping bike-blended smoothies with the Whole Living team at their bike commuter pit-stop on the Hudson River Greenway. Hundreds of thousands of Americans gave biking to work a try for the first time on Bike to Work Day too.
On a normal day, roughly 2 million Americans ride bicycles as transportation (about 1% of all the trips being made daily across the country). I have been to cities where bike riding is more common—even popular--and it is amazing! In places like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, 35% and 20% of all trips are made by bicycle.
Bicycles Are Beautiful
At the Whole Living pit-stop a lot of people cited New York City’s new bike lanes as the reason they had started riding to work in the past year. But I have to admit, I was fixated on an entirely different new development: the bicycles themselves were beautiful.
A Bike You Can Ride in Heels
The hottest trend in cycling right now are “commuter bicycles.” They are practical and comfortable and are becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. Bonus: they tend to look stylish too!
Above all, commuter bikes are:
• Made to withstand the rough-and-tumble of the daily commute (potholes, inclement weather).
• Mechanically simple (not too many gears or gizmos to take care of).
• Built for comfortable-paced riding (so you don’t show up to work all sweaty!).
• Affordable! There are great models out there from $250-$500.
Commuter bikes allow you to ride in an upright position and therefore work well with your usual work clothes, including heels! There is no reason for bike commuting to be a race!
The single-best decision I’ve made in the last year besides switching to this style bicycle was adding a basket to my bike. My basket has turned errands and daily trips into a joy, rather than extra weight on my back. Mark my words.
When you are at the bike shop buying your bike, don’t forget the 3 F’s:
• Fit. Your seat should come up to your hip when standing.
• Foothold. Your toes should touch the ground when you’re seated.
• Fashion. Your bicycle should look good, just like you.
So, here’s a question now that we’ve figured out a great daily bike: What will it take for your first bike to work day to become your routine? Post your comments and let’s get rolling!
Want more tips? I recently appeared on The Martha Stewart Show and talked about bike safety.
Caroline Samponaro is the Director of Bicycle Advocacy at Transportation Alternatives, an 8,000-member pro-bicycling non-profit founded in 1973. Caroline is one of the nation’s foremost advocates for cycling and has spearheaded New York City’s rapid transformation into a bicycle-friendly city. She lives in Brooklyn. Visit her at www.transalt.org and www.bikingrules.org.