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New Century Transportation

Colorado is a premiere bicycling state, and the Roaring Fork Valley has exceptional biking opportunities. To celebrate bicycling for transportation, fun and health, Colorado has designated June as Bike Month. At the same time, Colorado joins a nationwide effort to encourage cycling novices and enthusiasts to experience the fun and freedom of safely riding a bike to work, school, errands and recreation.The Colorado Department of Transportation Bike and Pedestrian program and Bike Colorado have a few helpful tips in getting started with commuting by bike.Start easy: Pick the day that will make it easiest to start bike commuting. Some people like to begin by choosing a “casual Friday” or a day with no morning meetings to worry about. If you feel like the distance to work is too far, consider driving to a certain point and biking the rest. Set a goal and get started.Choose your route: Many people avoid bike commuting because they can’t imagine biking on the roads they usually drive. In fact, that is often the worst route for cycling. Obtain a local bike map or check with your local bike shop to plan a safe and enjoyable route to work. Test your route by riding it on the weekend to give you a good sense of the terrain and the amount of time you’ll need. Carrying the gear: Many people avoid the “how to carry it” question by bringing a change of clothes and other necessary items to work on the days before they bike to work. If you do bring it along, you have the choice of carrying it on your body (with a messenger bag or backpack) or on your bike (with a rack and panniers). There are advantages and disadvantages of each method, and you might want to experiment with each. Be sure that whatever method you use, you feel comfortable on your bike and take time to adjust to the differences of your center of gravity, bike handling, checking for traffic and so on.Clothing and weather: Be sure to wear bright and/or reflective clothing. Plan ahead for Colorado’s afternoon thunderstorms and other weather changes by bringing raingear and/or layers. Some veteran commuters will post a checklist by their bike in order to be sure they have what they need each day (both for the ride and at work) and the types of gear they need for various weather conditions. You may want to have a small “cleanup kit” at work with washcloth, brush/comb, and deodorant to get ready for the day.Be safe: Be sure to always wear your helmet. Be visible – if your job schedule includes early morning or evening hours; be sure to have a headlight, taillight, and reflectors. Communicate with drivers, other cyclists and pedestrians using eye contact, hand signals, your voice and a bell.Get others involved: Bike commuting creates a great opportunity to interact with co-workers and neighbors. If you are already a bike commuter, consider being a mentor or resource for others wanting to try. Help them choose routes, or offer to ride with them on their first attempts. Representatives from Bike Colorado and the Colorado Department of Transportation Bike and Pedestrian program will be assisting Glenwood Springs, Carbondale, Basalt and Aspen task teams this fall during the Safe Routes to School neighborhood and school site audits. Cathy Tuttle is with the New Century Transportation Foundation. For additional information please e-mail ctuttle@newcenturytrans.org.


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