Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Taking the Lane: You have to sign up!

I want to put a plug in for the National Bike Challenge. If you are not familiar with the National Bike Challenge, it is a fun and friendly way to encourage you and others to bike – outside. Commute. Exercise. Make some vitamin D. However you want to do it, just do it. Log it. Spread the word. Get your coworkers to join you. Form a team. Rack up the miles. Lose a few pounds. Compete. Win. Win prizes. Win fame – well, your friends and coworkers might be so impressed by your many, many miles that it will feel like you’re famous. Close enough. Battle against your rival work place. Battle against your rival city. Battle against your spouse. Battle against yourself.
The challenge starts May 1st and ends the end of September. It’s the best time of year to bike. Being a slightly competitive person, there is nothing like a little competition amongst friends and strangers to motivate you. You will be amazed at how many miles some people bike.

Nationa Bike Challenge. It’s where all the cool commuters will be.

The challenge starts very, very soon.  So sign up now. then invite your friends and coworkers. You can sign in with your Endomondo account,  MapMyRide, or FaceBook account.

Now for a personal message and facts about my commuting.  My commute to work is about 21 miles round trip.  That’s the quickest/flatest route.  So for any of you who think you live too far away to commute to work, remember that I bike over 10 miles each way, so if you only have 5 you are soooo lucky, and I’m a bit jealous. And those of you who commute further are super human. However, because my bike to work is a bit further than quite a few others are willing to bike, I will tell you it allows me to stop for guilt free ice cream every week on my ride home.  I save $4.65 every day I commute by bike that I’m not paying out in gas, so I could eat a DQ Blizzard every day I commute. Not only can I justify paying for it, but I can justify the calories.

Of course, I am a fair weather commuter. I don’t bike in rain, or when morning temps are below 50°F. Mostly because I don't want to buy more bike gear.  We already have 10 bikes in our garage, and multi-sport cycling equipment that I have to draw the line on buying more stuff somewhere.  And there is no shame in being a fair weather bike commuter. I also commute to work only when I can fit the extra time into my schedule. With kids at home, it is a little hard to find the extra time to commute by bike that distance every day, but last summer I could pull it off twice a week.  This summer I plan to shoot for three days a week.  I plan to keep basic supplies at work (baby wipes, hair supplies, antiperspirant, and mascara) and carry my work clothes with me as I get rather sweaty. A quick change post-work back into my cycling clothes and I’m headed home…or to the nearest ice cream parlor.

And remember, in all 50 states, people on bikes are required to follow the same laws as other drivers.

Everyone on the road is entitled to the lane width they need. This includes the space behind, to each side and the space in front. If you want to use someone else’s space you must yield to whoever is using it.

In the United States, everyone must drive on the right-hand side of the roadway.

Bikes can share the same lane with other drivers. If a lane is wide enough to share with another vehicle (about 14 feet), ride three feet to the right of traffic. If the lane is not wide enough to share, “take the lane” by riding in the middle.

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