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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Commuting by bicycle may be an idea whose time has come

Commuting by bicycle may be an idea whose time has come
By:  Michael Lander

Commuting on a bicycle is a viable and inexpensive alternative
for some, especially when people can combine it with mass
transit.  The Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) buses
are equipped with bike racks, which allow cyclists greater
travel flexibility.

Commuting isn’t something that many of us really enjoy doing nowadays, but there may be options available to us that might change how we look at it.

The
University of Sussex/London School of Economics recently conducted a study and found that, at least among those in the British public, commuting is viewed as being one of the absolute worst things that Brits regularly experience in their day-to-day lives.

Regrettably, the same may very well be the said for many of us on this side of the Atlantic.

Even though we have been told about how Americans have always had a love affair with the automobile and how we’ve always loved the convenience and freedom of getting out and hitting the road in our cars,  there doesn’t seem to be as much to love for it as there once was.

With the congested roadways, traffic jams, the bad, reckless, distracted, or impaired drivers, the difficulty in sometimes finding a place to park, and the cost of car notes, maintenance, insurance, and gas, it can make the driving experience in
Memphis, and elsewhere, much less appealing. 

For those who are interested in finding an alternative way of commuting, or just getting around town, however, a bicycle may be one of the better options that people can and should consider.

Bicycle rides have many
benefits, which include being far more economical, more environmentally-friendly, and they are a healthier way (for both the mind and body) than driving a car is.  The U.S. Department of Transportation government also offers a modest reimbursement of $20 per month when a non-motorized bicycle is used for a significant portion of travel to and from work.

Cyclists can find routes on their commute, which can take
them on city streets, bike and pedestrian trails, and
through scenic areas to include our local area
parks.  This can make for a quicker commute than for
those who are in cars and are stuck in traffic.

For those willing to give commuting by bicycle a try, there are a handful of things that one should think about before doing it.

For starters, you should plan out your route to work, and come up with some alternative routes that you can take, if necessary, giving yourself plenty of time in order to get there.  You can also try planning out your route on
MapMyRide, Google Maps, and bikemap.net and you can click here for the most bicycle-friendly routes in Memphis.

One of the next things that you should do is to find something that will enable you to transport things to and from work or on any errands that you make.  For smaller items, a
satchel or saddle bag or cargo rack might do and, for larger items, you might want to go with a basket, a tote or double panniers, a back pack, a rucksack, or even, possibly, a cargo trailer.    

Among the items that you’ll probably want to have with you is a cell phone (with an extra battery or a charging device like a
Mophie), a tire repair kit, a bike maintenance tool set, a spare inner tube, a spare headlamp and tail light (with batteries), and plastic bags to protect anything from getting wet.

In addition to what you carry on your bike, it is also important what you have on you for clothing.  You should always wear clothing that will ensure that you are visible to others and appropriate for the weather conditions, (be it the
rain, the cold of winter, or the extreme, excruciating summer heat that we have in Memphis).

Those who commute, or who run errands, on a bicycle have a
number of options for carrying things to include baskets, bike
racks, and they can wear back packs, satchel or saddle bags.

In order to protect your bike so that it’s there when you go back to it, it’s always a good idea to put a
u-lock and/or a cable lock on it.  You should find a bike rack, or any immovable object and secure your bike frame and wheels to it. 

If it is at all possible, you should always try to bring your bike indoors and store it where it will not be out in the weather.  Always leaving a bike outside in the elements will unnecessarily accelerate the need for maintenance.  Some buildings have storage places and, sometimes, a good place to put them can be up underneath a stairwell. 

It may take longer to commute on a bicycle, but with all things considered, it will pay off in ways that it won’t for you in a car.

The automobile has long been a big part of many of our lives and many of us are nostalgic about them, despite the fact that the magic that they may have held over us has begun to slowly tarnish and fade away.

Today, many of us spend countless hours of our lives riding in cars and it’s time now that we consider breaking out of these cages that separate us from the rest of the world and from each other.

Bicycles give us the chance to break free from the confines of our cars and to reap the benefits that only a bike ride can give us.

The time has now come that we begin to think outside the box and to start commuting on bicycles.

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