May is National Bike month. More than half of the U.S. population lives within five miles of their workplace, and the number of people cycling to work is growing (see infographic).
One of them is Ross Guberman, Great Forest’s senior sustainability analyst, who bikes 30 miles a day and incorporates ways to minimize his impact in his everyday life. Today’s post is from Ross:
Over the years, my commute to work has gone from swerving in and out of rush hour traffic and narrowly avoiding taxies to a relaxed, more or less calm bicycle ride, all thanks to the constant improvement in the road infrastructure in New York City.
I bike 15 miles to work, from Brooklyn to Harlem, every day. Instead of spending my time underground in the subway, I am outside, getting exercise, interacting with the environment, seeing the progression of the city as I cycle. I arrive at work each day recharged.
I am lucky that my place of work allows me to bring my bike inside and has shower facilities. I know that not all offices are like this. While some buildings have bike racks and others do make concessions to cyclists, many are just not set up to accommodate workers who might like to bike to work. Cycling is still seen as something recreational in the United States and not as a viable means of transportation.
I would like to encourage all employers and building owners to think about encouraging cycling to work as part of their official or unofficial operations plan. If you have a bike access plan in place, publicize it so that your employees or tenants know they have the option to park their bikes inside the building. If you don’t, see if you can install bike racks (which can earn you LEED credits), or offer resources to make biking easier. For example, arrange for access to showers at a nearby gym, or help your employees/tenants find secure parking nearby.
Streets today are safer than they have ever been for cyclists because of organizations around the country like Transportation Alternatives, the leading advocacy group in NYC for bicycling (and also for walking and public transportation). I am an active member of the organization, which fights for lowing the speed limit, for red light cameras, for street diets, for protected bike lanes, for improvements that make every road user safer.
I choose to ride my bike to work each day because I get exercise, I see and interact with the environment, I hear the birds, the cars, the life of New York, I smell the buds in Central Park, I get wet in the rain and cold in the winter, I sweat in the summer and bask in the ebbs of autumn. Unlike most people, I look forward going to work each day, all because I bike.
Here are some useful resources for employers and individuals:
- Bike to Work: Information for Riders: Everything you want to know about biking, from information about tax incentives to safety tips and a bicycle checklist.
- Bike to work: Information for Employers
- Resources from the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center
- More about the federal law tax incentive to cycle to work
- See infographic of the economic benefits of biking, state by state, and more from the National Bike League
- The Bike Access to Office Buildings Law in NYC gives employees who work in buildings with a freight elevator a formal process to request bicycle access in their workplace. In addition, most new or renovated commercial buildings are required to install one bike parking space per 7,500 t0 10,000 sq. feet. Parking garages with a capacity of more than 100 cars are obligated to provide at least one bike parking spot for every ten car parking spots for a total of up to 20 parking spots for bikes. Garages with bike parking must also provide a bike rack and lock for customers to secure their bicycles.
- Locate bike racks and bicycle parking in NYC.