Getting fit on the way to work and saving gas is increasingly
Monday morning alarm snaps 41-year-old San Clemente sales manager Mike
Morrill out of bed before daylight at 5:30 to begin the morning routine of
showering and shaving. Once dressed, he’s out the door at 6:30 to start
his 22-mile commute to the office, a commute he’s been doing for 10 years.
Unlike most of his work colleagues, however, Morrill doesn’t start his
commute by cranking a car ignition switch. Instead, he pulls on his
backpack and hops on a converted cyclo-cross bike with fenders and lights,
and pedals north toward Irvine.
province of kids, BMXers, road racers and mountain bikers, bicycles have
become a viable commuting option for many Orange County professionals.
commuting is an excellent way to get exercise and to think,” Morrill
explains. “It’s fun, it’s a challenge, and it allows me to train for
racing while not using all my family time.”
does his 45-mile round trip bike commute 4-5 days a week, depending on his
work and travel schedule. “I generally ride with a backpack that is
designed for cycling,” he says. “I can carry two days worth of clothes
company, Shimano, a bicycle components company, provides a bike cage to
park bikes inside and locker room facilities for changing. Shimano also
offers a program that provides financial incentives for those who take
public transportation, ride-share or bicycle commute.
Oil industry analyst saves on gas
Bergman of Rossmoor has been bicycle commuting since he was 16 and working
at a bike shop. Currently, the 46-year-old works as a volumetric analyst
for British Petroleum, where he accounts for pipeline flow in and out of
tanks and ships.
Morrill, Bergman uses his 12-mile commute time from Rossmoor to Long Beach
to supplement his bike-race training. “I bicycle commute mostly to help
get in the necessary practice time on the bicycle for racing,” Bergman
says. “I also do it to get away from traffic, which I hate with a passion.
It also helps keep down my costs of commuting to work.”
seem to be more people riding to work now then ever before. Morrill says
that he used to see 1-2 people per day on his ride to work. He now sees
5-10. Although the number of bike riders is increasing, it’s still a very
small percentage of American commuters. Estimates suggest that more than
half of all Americans live less than five miles from where they work but,
according to Bicycling Magazine, only 1.67% of Americans commute to work
would like to increase this percentage. Head of the nonprofit California
Bicycle Coalition, his aim is to promote the bicycle as an everyday means
of transportation and recreation. His tools are education and programs
such as the California Bicycle Commute week in May. During the week,
special activities will be organized by ride-share agencies, cities,
counties, employers, bicycle advocacy groups, bike shops and others who
support bicycle transportation including a Bicycle To Work Day.
also works to educate California employers about the benefits of
supporting their employees who bicycle commute. Not only is it a
heart-healthy exercise for workers, but he also cites such statistics as
the fact that 12 bicycles can be parked in the space required for one
automobile. Traffic jams in the 29 largest U.S. cities cost commuters an
estimated $24.3 billion each year. Driving consumes 43% of all oil
consumed daily in the United States and produces 60% of California’s smog.
Fifty-two-year-old Anaheim Hills resident Jeff Rich, a program analyst for
Boeing in Anaheim, doesn’t have to be convinced about the benefits bike
commuting. “It’s a HUGE stress relief as well as getting daily cardiac
exercise,” Rich says. “Because I put less than 5,000 miles a year on my
car, my car insurance has dropped. Gasoline price hikes have no impact on
me.” He’s been bicycling the six miles to work and back for 13 years, and
puts more miles on his bicycle than he does on his car.
Equipped to commute
suitable for commuting are varied and many, but experts recommend they be
sturdy and be equipped with fenders and lights, especially during the
winter months. Rich rides a Lemond Zurich, a sturdy, steel-framed road
bike designed by Greg Lemond. Bergman built his commuting bike from the
frame up, starting with a Fetish Cycles frame and fork. Morrill’s winter
commuter bike is the converted Cyclo Cross bike. “It’s heavier than a
traditional road bike and extremely durable,” he says.
commuters reluctantly drive to work when the weather turns wet. Morrill,
however, just rides to work like it’s not raining. “It’s really not as bad
as you would think,” he says. “The fenders keep most of the water off you,
and if you have decent gear it’s just an annoyance.” However, you do need
to be more careful as the roads get very slippery, and be sure to use your
lights so cars can see you.
wears standard bike clothing and layers for warmth. “Sometimes it is very
hard to get motivated when it’s cold and dark,” he says. “I find that once
you’re on the bike it’s easy just getting out the door is the
only one pitfall about bicycling to work, according to Jeff Rich. Cars.
have to be extremely aware of your surroundings,” he says. “I have a
mirror that attaches to my eyeglasses. I want to be aware of who’s coming
up behind me at all times. Be it a car or another bicyclist.”
clothing aids bike commuting safety. Drivers will notice you if you have a
headlight on the front of the bike and a large red flashing tail light on
the rear. Reflectors that strap to your ankle or reflective tape on your
backpack is another plus.
California Bike Commute recommends choosing roads that have wide outside
lanes or paved shoulders and driving the route during your normal
commuting time to determine potential traffic problems. Also, make sure
your bicycle is in proper working order. Not only should all the
mechanical parts be in good repair (e.g. brakes, tire, gears) but the
bicycle should also be adjusted properly for seat height, handlebars, etc.
If you will be riding at night, you must have a light. If you do not have
a helmet, borrow one or buy one.
by bike is fun, says Morrill. “I ride my bike because I enjoy it and I am
lucky that I can ride to work every day,” he says. “It’s a great sense of
accomplishment, it’s economical and it’s much easier than you think”