Friday, December 19, 2014

When is the best time to start riding your bike to work and why is it the Christmas season?

If you ever wanted to try riding your bike to work but were still hesitating - don't. Now it's the best time of the year to try it! You may think it's crazy - why start now, in winter when weather is cold and days are short? Wouldn't summer be a better time? Don't get fooled. There are several good reasons why Christmas season is the best time of the year to try your new bike commute. Here is why:
  1. It's a slow season. Many companies close between December 24th and January 2nd and kids have no school. This means that road traffic is significantly lighter and that's important for those of us who have to share roads with cars on the way to work for at least a part of our commute (which means most of Americans).
  2. It's a busy season. The last week before Christmas the road traffic may be actually quite the opposite - heavy to the point of standstill. Roads get loaded with cars because everyone rushes to malls for holiday shopping. I absolutely hate visiting malls this time of the year but if I have to do it, I do it by bike. This way I don't have to circle 10 times around the parking lot hunting for space. And a very heavy and slow road traffic makes it much easier to ride a bike too - when cars get stuck, you are still moving.
  3. Good weather. This will sound crazy but weather in December in Boston is actually nice. It's pretty mild, around 32F (0C) and it rarely snows. At least in our area January to March is very cold with lots of snow, April to June is warmer but often very rainy, July and August are way too hot and humid, September and October are the best but traffic gets heavy as the school starts and November is rainy. So there you go - the dry, mild winter of December looks actually quite attractive for bike commuting.
  4. Cars slow down. If snowfall happens, drivers become more careful and slow down significantly. If you're afraid to ride on some roads in the summer because you feel like all drivers are speeding, try cycling there in winter, after a fresh snowfall. Suddenly, all drivers become very polite, observant and cautious.
  5. Your own bike lane. If a heavy snowfall happens, the huge snow banks on the side of the road block often a good chunk of the rightmost lane making it too narrow for cars, but perfect for bikes. Suddenly that scary 4-lane road becomes a slow 2-lane one with dedicated bike lanes in both directions!
  6. Grab the bull by its horns. If you try bike commuting now, you will be ready for the worst - low temperatures, darkness, poor traction. You will have a chance to figure out what lights work best on your bike, how to ride on snow and what to wear. After that, there will be no situations that would surprise you.

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