Friday is National Bike to Work Day, and members of Be Well Barton County task force say the day is a reminder that kicking off your workday with a ride is a quick, easy way to start building physical fitness into your daily routine.
The day is a cornerstone of National Bike Month in May, and K-State Extension agent Donna Krug, who is a member of the task force, hopes the day reminds people of the importance of daily physical activity.
Though people may have concerns about obstacles with riding their bike to work each day, building the habit into a work day is much easier people might think.
“Just build it into your normal (daily) schedule, then it is not an (extra) burden,” Krug said.
According to the League of American Bicyclists, 40% of all trips in the U.S. are less than two miles. For people who both live and work in Great Bend, Krug said the relatively short distances between destinations makes a short two-wheel commute easy to build into that routine.
It is an especially good way to add exercise to a hectic schedule if a person finds it difficult to carve out time for 30 minutes to an hour of exercise. She added the energy gained from riding to work though can actually make for a more productive work day, as well.
The first hurdle to overcome is finding a safe route from home to work, which she said can be more challenging for novice cyclists, but becomes routine over time. Krug and her husband John, for example, have been riding their tandem bike to work together for approximately ten years. In particular, cyclists should be aware of anywhere they will be crossing or riding on busy streets.
Weather is another common concern people often cite as reasons for not riding to work. People or often be turned off by hot, cold or potentially stormy weather conditions.
The best way to combat this, Krug said, is simply to be prepared. Take time each day to know what expected weather conditions for the day are, and whether or not those conditions will be conducive to riding. If weather conditions are not expected to be favorable for riding, it is important to have a backup plan.
If people are going to ride their bikes to work, or anywhere else this summer, Krug said it is important to do so safely.
As part an effort to promote safe riding, members of the Be Well Barton County task force including Donna, John, Katelyn Sigler, Vicki Richardson, and Rhonda Knudson recently produced YouTube videos discussing bicycle safety rules. The videos were produced and sent to schools in lieu of in-person visits the groups normally make to area schools each year to teach students about bicycle safety.
In one roughly six-minute long video, Donna and John discuss a wide variety of bike safety topics, including bike maintenance suggestions, recommendations for proper cycling attire, suggestions for safety and awareness while riding and rules of the cycling road.
The YouTube video can be viewed on the Central Kansas Partnership’s YouTube channel at https://youtu.be/vdaRPTky1SE.
One major bike safety issue Krug hopes to stress is the importance of wearing helmets while cycling. Bicycle mishaps are common, she said, and helmets are the best way to protect yourself from serious head injuries.
Because cyclists share the road with motorized traffic, she said it is crucial cyclists not be distracted in any way while riding. She strongly recommends not earbuds while riding, or any other device that can detract from a cyclist’s awareness of what is going on around them.
As part of the safety effort, Krug credited City Street Superintendent James Giles and the city’s street department for helping promote traffic and bicycle cooperation on the roadways through the use of “sharrows”, arrows painted along popular bicycle thoroughfares which remind both motorists and cyclist to be aware and courteous of one another while sharing the road.