Photo: tejvanphotos/Creative Commons
by Blythe Copeland, Great Neck, New York
Trading your car for a bike can make a huge difference to your carbon footprint -- and to your wallet, as gas gets increasingly expensive. But even when you know how beneficial the swap would be, it's easier to come up with reasons to stick to your current commute than to branch out onto a bike.
If any of these six excuses are holding you back from bike commuting, it's time to get over it.
1. You're carrying too much stuff.
If you're feeling weighed down with files, your laptop, your brown-bag lunch, and that change of clothes, hauling all your loot on a bike can seem overwhelming.
But a chic messenger bag, a high-tech pannier, or just a classic basket can help you carry everything in style, and even leave room for you to stop on the way home and pick up those last-minute groceries.
And if dropping the kids off at daycare is part of your daily routine, then bring them along on the bike: Invest in a carrier, and then unhook it and leave it at the daycare provider until you're back to pick them up in the afternoon. They'll be happy to skip the rush-hour traffic, too.
2. It's raining (or hot, or humid).
We know you don't want to show up at work looking all bedraggled from a commute in wet weather, or from biking through humid city streets on the steamiest summer mornings.
But this problem is easily fixed with a few simple adjustments: First, you need the right gear. Look for breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics that won't leave you soaked (or smelly), and durable, waterproof jackets that will keep most of the water away (like Runshade shirts from Patagonia and the Lightbeam hoodie from Nau).
It's also a good idea to stash a change of clothes at your desk (or in your gym locker, if that's nearby) for days when you didn't check the weather before leaving the house -- and toss in an extra stick of deodorant and a hairbrush for everyday use.
3. It's snowing.
While winter cycling brings up some of the same issues as wet- or hot-weather riding (like wearing something that you can change out of when you get to work so you don't end up in those ice-crusted pants at your 9 a.m. meeting), it also offers challenges that are all its own.
You need riding gear that's warm but still breathable -- check your local fitness store for cold-weather workout options -- and a bike that can take on salty, icy, snowy streets (a mountain bike is often better than a road bike in these situations).
If you live in an area where you expect plenty of rough weather, then studded tires are a good safety investment, and you'll want to have an extra inner tube and a patch kit on hand, too, since the harsher terrain makes you more likely to pop a tire.
Keep your bike clean so that the dirt and debris on the road don't jam it up, and remember to keep your battery lights fresh (since you'll be spending more time on the road in the dark, you'll use them more).
... read more story at TreeHugger.com