Leah Beckett is the Marketing Coordinator at MassRIDES. She lives car-lite in Cambridge. Leah started biking to work in 2013 when she lived in Connecticut and became a full-time bike commuter when she moved to the Boston-area in 2015.
Friday, May 18th, is the official date of the annual Bike to Work Day and, as a result, the streets of Massachusetts cities and towns are about to be flooded with commuters biking to work! In honor of this event, let’s dispel a few myths surrounding biking:
Myth 1: I need to buy a bunch of extra gear
You don’t have to have to gear up like it’s the Tour de France. Many non-cyclists assume that stretchy/spandex-type clothes are necessary, but based on my personal experience and the experiences of my fellow bike commuters, bicycle-specific outfits are usually unnecessary. Just throw on your favorite light jacket, buckle your helmet and you’re off. Luckily, May is the perfect time to experiment with bike commuting since the moderate temperatures mean you don’t have to throw on extra layers for your trip.
Myth 2: Cyclists break more traffic laws than drivers
A study done by the Florida Department of Transportation with research help from the University of South Florida’s Center for Urban Transportation Research found that cyclists are more compliant than drivers when it comes to obeying traffic laws.
Myth 3: I live too far away
The average commute in Massachusetts is about 20 miles long. While biking that far might not be practical every day, you may be able to bike a portion of the trip to a nearby bus stop or train station. However, if you want to push yourself and test out how the entire commute feels via bike, Bike to Work Day on May 18th is the perfect opportunity for this challenge. Consider pairing up with a buddy at work who is willing to drive you and your bike home that evening.
Myth 4: I need a new bike
My clunky, hybrid bike sat dormant in my parents’ garage for many years. Because it had been out of commission for such a long time, I decided to take it for a test spin. Happily, I discovered that it was fine and still fit for duty. Your bike will probably also be good to go, but if you’re concerned, consider getting it checked out at a local bike shop first.
If you don’t have an old bike to pull out of storage, there are plenty of used bikes in good condition that can be found in bike shops or through classified ads.
Myth 5: I can’t carry all I need
Some people have baskets or panniers – bags that attach to the racks of bikes – but when I first started biking the nine miles from Arlington to Boston, I just filled a backpack with my lunch, a book, and sometimes even my laptop. Eventually, I added a rear bike basket, but if you are simply trying out the ride, it isn’t necessary to upgrade.
Do you have questions about biking to work? Many of our staff make their way to work on two wheels and would be happy to help. Reach out to email@example.com with any questions and we will get back to you promptly.