Published on October 21st, 2007 | by Stephanie Evans4
Cycling, The Ultimate in Green Energy Transport
There’s no easier and effective way to make your daily commute green than to swap your car or bus ride for a bicycle. Riding a bike to work and to complete your errands not only improves the health of the environment on a daily basis, it saves money and improves physical fitness as well.
And the best part . . . it’s also fun!
It’s important to know that cyclists have the same rights to the road as motor vehicles. If you haven’t ridden a bike since grade school, ask a more experienced cyclist to join you on your initial rides, or sign up for a bike education course through your local bicycle coalition, city college, or local bike shop. Multiple cyclists are more visible to motorists. An easy way to make your commute safer, as well as more social, is to make “bike buddies” or form “bike-pools” with other cyclists going your way. Depending on your fitness level and motivation, you can use a bike for all of your transportation needs, or combine bicycling with public transit—many city buses have bike racks, subways often accommodate bikes, and many train stations and transit centers have bike lockers.
Joining the bike commuting ranks doesn’t mean that you have to buy a whole new wardrobe. It’s possible to ride comfortably and safely in street clothes with a few small modifications . . . .
For the most eco-friendly bike possible, look to the low-impact and surprisingly sturdy bikes constructed from bamboo—there are even bamboo racing bikes. A standard steel frame made by a quality brand is the next best thing in the green bike realm, as steel frames can last you a lifetime. Aluminum may be cheaper, but won’t last as long, while carbon fiber bikes are lighter, but don’t boast an environmentally healthy manufacturing process (nor will they withstand an accident).
Practice recycling while you save your bank account by shopping for a high-quality used bicycle online, or at a shop that sells new and used bikes—check your area to see if there’s an annual bike swap. Several manufacturers make foldable bicycles designed specifically for commuters. It’s easy to take foldable models on trains and store them once you get to the office.
A helmet and bike lighting system provides insurance against accidents, while bells, portable tool kits, and reflective tape for your helmet and clothing are further investments in your safety.
Dressing the Part
Joining the bike commuting ranks doesn’t mean that you have to buy a whole new wardrobe. It’s possible to ride comfortably and safely in street clothes with a few small modifications to pants legs and dresses. Skirts make great bike-wear, and most shoes can accommodate a standard bike pedal. If you want to buy green bike clothing, shop for wool jerseys and organic cotton shorts and shirts from reputable companies that specialize in these products.
Greening Your Ride Further
In recent years, several vegan team sand bike clubs have formed. Likewise, the boom of energy bar manufacturers has revealed many who are committed to making their products from all-natural and organic ingredients.
Most cities have local bicycle coalitions which serve to provide resources, lobby on behalf of cyclists’ rights, install bike lanes, and improve street conditions. Join your local bike coalition and advocate for safer bicycle commuting. Become an environmental activist by volunteering during Bike to Work Day and at other bicycle advocacy events.
Bike Commuting and Trip Planning Tips
- Map your ride before you set out. Check to see which streets are the flattest or contain painted bike lanes. Many cities have designated bike routes which are usually laid out on wider and flatter streets.
- Bike halfway to your destination and either put your bike on a bus bike rack, park it at a subway, BART station locker or bike station, or place it on the ferry. Most trains, ferries and buses have either bike racks or areas for bike storage.
- Carry your work clothes, laptop and groceries in bike messenger bags, and/or install panniers on your ride. Several expert bike bag and pannier companies use recycled materials to construct their products.
- Keep a change of clothes, a towel, and toiletries at work.
- Carry organic energy bars and a supply of water to make sure you don’t run out of fuel for your ride
General Safety Tips
- Secure pants legs with ankle straps, or roll them up to keep them from getting caught in your chain.
- To avoid flashing your fellow cyclists and motorists while wearing a skirt, pin a piece of the skirt to your tights with a safety pin, or wear a pair of cycling shorts underneath.
- If you haven’t ridden a bike since grade school, ask a more experienced cyclist to take you riding in the city, or take a bike education course.
- Always wear a helmet.
- Install a front light and a flashing red rear light on your bike.
- Look for ankle straps with reflective tape.
Additional Bike Commuting Resources
A large and ever-growing community of bicycle commuters and bike-friendly businesses support this sustainable, non-polluting form of transportation:
Bike Coalition Resource Information: http://www.centrebikecoalition.org/resources.html
League of American Bicyclists: http://www.bikeleague.org/ – promotes cycling for fun, fitness and transportation, and works through advocacy and education for a more bicycle-friendly America
Bicycling Information: http://www.bicyclinginfo.org/ Information clearinghouse for cyclists and pedestrians
Bikes Belong: http://www.bikesbelong.org/ is the national coalition of bicycle suppliers and retailers working together to put more people on bicycles more often.
Bike Commuter Tips provided general information on commuting http://www.bikecommutetips.blogspot.com/
Bike to Work Day: http://www.bikemonth.com/
Green Bicycles and Green Bike Products
Green Bike Messenger Bags and Accessories:
Green Bike Panniers:
Organic Cotton and Wool Bike Clothing:
Organic/Vegan Bike Clubs:
Organic Energy Bars: