This Bike About Town column, written by SF Bicycle Coalition member Ben Russo, shares the beautiful benefits of biking to work and shares some of the cool new things that are happening thanks to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition this Bike to Work Day.
Bike to Work Day: Experience biking’s benefits
by Ben Russo
In years past, my awareness of Bike to Work Day was limited to the day it was taking place. Bicycling downtown, I would notice the increase in the number of people riding bikes and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Energizer Stations were along my route with cheerful volunteers offering coffee, tips and encouragement, and my morning mind would slowly realize what was going on.
My awareness of the event has increased over the years, but this year has special meaning for me: Next Thursday’s (May 13) Bike to Work Day will (hopefully) mark my return to biking to work after two months of not being able to ride a bicycle and having to commute via public transit.
Like so many love songs expressing the “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone” conundrum, the past couple of months have added insult to injury, boasting beautiful, bike-to-work weather for weeks at a time while I trudged toward the nearest Muni stop, prepared to wedge myself in between other commuters for a trip that could range from 30 to 60 minutes. This made me realize just how easy, fun and fast biking to work actually is — and how much I missed it.
Why ride to work?
There are several benefits to riding your bike to work, but for me, they almost always boil down to time:
More time to sleep in: From the Upper Haight to downtown, my bike ride takes about 20 minutes door-to-door. With an average of 45 minutes commute time on Muni, I’ve earned myself 25 more minutes in bed in the morning. I’ve also lived in the Inner Richmond, the Mission and the Western Addition, and I’ve always noticed the shorter commute times associated with biking to work.
Less time in the gym: With 20 minutes in the morning and 30 to 35 minutes in the evening (going uphill), I don’t have to spend as much time at the gym waiting in lines for cardio machines. This makes getting in and out of the gym (or not going to gym at all) much easier.
More “me” time: Combining exercise and my commute frees up more time in the day for whatever I want. Whether it’s more time to relax at home or getting to the bars before the crowds, biking to work gives me more time to connect with friends and make better use of the daylight hours.
Less desperate coffee time: The morning ride leaves me feeling energized and wide awake, whereas public transportation extends my sleepy stupor and leaves me desperately seeking caffeine.
More time to enjoy the outdoors: It’s impossible to measure the improvement in mood I experience just being able to ride around the city with the wind and sun in my face. I feel more fit and energetic.
Free bike service and more
The Bicycle Coalition arranges for free, basic bicycle maintenance from local bike shops, leads commuter convoy groups from various neighborhoods on mornings the week of Bike to Work Day, sets up Energizer Stations across the city to fuel up on coffee and snacks, and hosts secure bike valet parking at Market and Battery streets.
You can map your trip to work and back online using the SFBikeMapper ( www.sfbikemapper.org), which gives turn-by-turn directions and connects you with the flattest and most bike-friendly route, or the recent addition of bicycling directions on Google Maps (maps.google.com).
See you on the road.
Bike Away From Work Party & Fashion Show includes models showing off the latest in bicycling style, a raffle and more. 6 p.m. next Thurs., May 13. Free-$10. The Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St., S.F. www.sfbike.org/btwd.
Bike About Town is presented by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, an 11,000-member nonprofit dedicated to creating safer streets and more livable communities by promoting the bicycle for everyday transportation. For more biking resources, go to www.sfbike.org.