FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. --
Remember summers before you were able to drive? When getting to the other side of town meant throwing on your best cargo shorts and jumping on your bike? As part of National Bike Month, Bike to Work Week 2014 will be held May 12 to 16, and it's the perfect time to put some air in your tires and break out the 'ol cruiser.
In addition to instant nostalgia, the benefits of biking to work are everywhere.
Biking to work has many health benefits. Getting your body moving also helps wake you up so you arrive at work feeling alert. On days when it's difficult to find time for the gym, kill two birds with one stone by incorporating exercise into your commute. For each hour of bicycling, you burn approximately 500 calories.
For short distances, biking often takes less time than driving. Spend less time in traffic and save time looking for parking as you cruise by the reserved spots on your way to the swanky bike rack in front of your building.
Cycling will also help lower your fuel expenses, as well as general vehicle costs. In 2013, AAA calculated the average per-mile cost to operate the average sedan to be $0.52 per mile, while the average four-wheel drive sport utility vehicle cost $1 per mile. Modern fuel-efficient vehicles are improving every year, but they are still coming up short against the benchmark of infinity miles per gallon set by the bicycle, a record that may never be broken...until Chuck Norris begins biking to work.
Bicycling reduces polluting emissions. If one out of 10 commuters switched to walking or biking, we'd save two billion gallons of gas a year. A four-mile round trip by bicycle keeps approximately 15 pounds of pollutants out of the air we breathe.
If you're interested in biking to work, but you have some concerns, here are some tips to help get you started:
- Try your commute for the first time when you aren't under time constraints. This will allow you to figure out a safe and easy route, and determine how long it will take you to get to work.
- Dress appropriately for the weather. If you don't want to wear your uniform while you bike, many squadrons have lockers and showers available for you to use.
- When riding on base, make sure to wear a helmet and have front and rear reflectors mounted on your bike. You can add a taillight and headlight for increased visibility.
- Become familiar with the rules of the road. Always ride in the same direction as traffic and indicate your turns with hand signals.
- If you live far from work, but you're still interested in biking, you can split the difference by driving to a spot between home and work and biking from there. Another alternative is to bring your bike to work in your car or truck. At the end of the day, bike home, then bike back to work in the morning.
For those of you interested in commuting from downtown, there will be a group ride departing the parking lot at the Fish Lake trailhead, next to the intersection of W Sunset Blvd and S Govt. Way at 6:30 a.m. on May 16. All abilities are encouraged to join. The group will make their way to Fairchild AFB via S Govt. Way, Deno Rd, Craig Rd and U.S. 2.
Fairchild AFB has a growing number of bicycle commuters and I hope to see you rolling by on two wheels soon! Visit www.spokanebikes.net for more information about this year's bike to work week. If you have any questions or comments contact me by email at Lukas.Huebener@us.af.mil
or (207) 318-4689.