Not everyone can dismiss the gasoline-powered vehicle from their workday, but for the majority Gainesville residents who live only a few miles from their work place, bicycling to work offers a chance to save money, reduce pollution, and improve their physical and mental health. Gainesville’s relatively small footprint and grid layout means that most destinations are accessible by multiple routes. The effective bicyclist chooses the most lightly-traveled streets to circumvent the crowded thoroughfares.
Most riders find an 8-12MPH pace easy to maintain–commuting 5 miles at this rate takes 25-40 minutes. Imagine pedalling your way to work: Your blood flows to all of your extremities, waking up every cell, nerve, and synapse. You arrive alert and energized, and ready for a productive work day. At the end of the day, you pedal home, spinning out the stress of the workday onto an asphalt plain that absorbs all your grievances without question or limit. You arrive home refreshed and decompressed, and ready to spend some jovial time with family and friends. As a bonus, your doctor compliments you on your new daily excercise regimen. Soon, a feeling of self-empowerment and accomplishment settles in as you see how easily you motivate yourself around town for little-to-no cost. You realize that your new mode of travel not only helps yourself, but that each time you leave your car in the driveway, you reduce the demand for pollutive fossil-fuels.
As we wander into the New Year, consider resolving to make this change in your life. Figure a route and try it on your day off to determine how much time you will need to afford yourself. Keep in mind that Gainesville teems with secondary roads, offering reprieve from the clutter of traffic. If you hesitate to fully commit, start by bicycling one or two days per week. Gradually increase the number of days, and before long, you may find that your car stays comfortably in your driveway more often than not! In the summer months, or if your job requires professional dress, you may need to backpack a change of clothes and allow a little extra time to upon your arrival and before your departure for home. If a backpack isn’t your style, add an inexpensive rack and a set of panniers to improve your cargo capacity.
Gainesville’s terrain, while relatively flat, contains a few features. At first, these “hills” may prove arduous, but this condition will evaporate with time and repetition. As your cardiovascular health and muscular strength improves, you’ll find yourself using fewer of the low gears on your commute.
Should you choose the sidewalk or bike lane? This question depends entirely on your experience and comfort level. On the sidewalk, you ride further away from traffic. In the bike lane, your visibility (especially through intersections) may improve. Always ride within your comfort level, and always wear a helmet. Make sure your bicycle always complies with Florida and Gainesville bicycling laws/codes. Follow all traffic laws, and wear high-visibility clothing.