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Get out and ride to work
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ince May 14-20 is designated as “Bicycle to Work Week” it seems fitting that I share my passion for this fun activity in my column space. Although it is estimated that less than 1 percent of adult Americans commute to work by bicycle, roughly 41 percent of work commutes are shorter than 5 miles. In my case, my husband John and I log seven miles a day which includes two round trips to our respective offices. Unless it is below 20 degrees or icy underfoot, you are likely to see us in our hi-vis green jackets pedaling along on our tandem bike.
I am not sure why we decided to bicycle commute three years ago, but I can tell you we would miss it if we stopped now. Bicycle commuting is a great way to squeeze regular exercise into a busy schedule. Commuting time can be used to stay in shape instead of sitting frustrated in traffic. Statistics also show that bicycle commuters are happier and more productive at work.
We are noticing more cyclists taking to the streets and with school dismissing for the summer break, there will be even more bicycles to share the road with. Please read the following bicycle safety tips whether you are an occasional or everyday rider.
• Consider a helmet a necessity, rather than an extra. Without a helmet, riders who sustain an injury are 14 times more likely to become a fatality. Choose one that meets or exceeds safety standards established by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Make sure the helmet fits, rather than one a child will grow into. Replace the helmet if an accident occurs or if the helmet is badly jarred or cracked.
• Ride with the traffic, rather than facing the traffic. Consider adding a rear view mirror to your bicycle gear. I have one that attaches to my helmet so I can constantly monitor the traffic behind us.
• Obey traffic signals. Use hand signals to let others know your intentions.
• Stay alert and keep your mind on your riding. This should be the same advice for many people in cars. Too many times we have been in close calls with drivers who are on cell phones or just inattentive to the traffic around them.
Many parents ask at what age a child is old enough to ride in the street rather than on the sidewalk. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all age. A child’s maturity level is the main factor. Other factors are: the size of the community, traffic patterns and congestion, and whether it is a residential area or a business district. A smaller community can seem peaceful and safe, but may have periods when safety is compromised – for example, after a ball game, during a community festival, or at harvest time.
 Now go out and enjoy this beautiful spring weather with a family bike ride!
Donna Krug is the Family and Consumer Science Agent with K-State Research and Extension – Barton County. You may reach her at (620)793-1910 or