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Inside the Ride

Bicycling Reality Trip: Reasons to Ride & How to Ride Right


As Valley Bike Month comes to a close, we wanted to take a closer look at what makes the bicycling community tick. Some biking benefits are obvious – it’s healthy, it saves money, it helps save the planet by reducing car emissions. But after spending some quality time with a few dedicated bike-riders, we were introduced to a whole new reality that will intrigue even the most skeptical rider.

Quinn and the stolen car

Quinn Pic Meet Quinn Whissen. She’s an independent marketing consultant and downtown Phoenix advocate. Her journey to daily bicycling began when her car was stolen. Instead of forking over a wad of cash to buy and maintain a new one, she opted to take up bicycling instead. Today, she uses her bike to ride everywhere and connects to light rail for longer trips.

“Bicycling is about enjoying your city, moving at a slower pace and spending time with friends,” Quinn says. “There is a growing bicycle culture in the Valley as more bike-friendly events and group rides become available.”

She also noted that bike-riding helped her break bad habits.

“When you have a car, you can just hop in and go,” she adds. “When you ride a bike, your life becomes very intentional and you have to plan for each moment of the day. This helps keep me focused and I’m not as prone to those spur-of-the-moment shopping sprees, which saves me money.”

Ashlee

Ashlee and the long ride

Introducing Ashlee Rudolph, a project manager for the Bureau of Reclamation. On some days she bikes 25 miles to work – each way. We won’t do the full-trip math because it’s intimidating and we don’t want to set the bar quite so high. Plus, she’s been at it awhile. Ashlee started bicycling when she got to college after her parents gave her a mountain bike to get around campus. The bike went with her when she studied abroad in New Zealand and she hasn’t looked through a windshield since.

“Bicycling is magical. It’s fun, healthy, good for the environment and I never have to hunt for a parking space,” Ashlee says. “Plus, I save money on gas and it makes me feel good physically and mentally.”

Ashlee credits bike-friendly canal paths with easing her long commute.

“Phoenix has an awesome canal system with bike paths that are removed from traffic,” she adds.

Ashlee also bikes recreationally and participates in many social rides around town.

The challenges of biking and what to do about them

Valley Metro has been promoting bike rides all month long at various Valley Bike Month events, and we wanted to see what it would take to get a bicycling novice – like most Valley residents – to consider riding to work once a week. We surveyed our Facebook fans and here are the top responses:

  1. More bike racks on buses and light rail
  2. Better bike lanes, paths and shaded areas
  3. More driver awareness
  4. Better transit and connection schedules

We wish there were simple solutions to these challenges, but they will take time, money and a vocal community of advocates. The good news is that progress is being made. Cities across the Valley are including bicycling in their transportation master plans. Bike-share programs in Phoenix and Tempe will begin in late 2014, giving bicyclists more options and flexibility. Valley Metro and its city transit partners work continuously to improve scheduling and connectivity. A bike-friendly community is beginning to take shape. Since we have a ways to go before we are truly a bike community, here are a few things you can do to help ensure a smoother ride.

Bike Rack

  1. Utilize bike racks and lockers at park-and-rides, transit center and light rail platforms. Bike rack space on buses and light rail is limited. Plan ahead and allow plenty of time.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the rules of the road as a bicyclist.
  3. Push yourself. Give up a little bit of convenience for the greater good – your health, your pocketbook, the environment.
  4. Be an advocate. Support local bicycle organizations or share your ideas with your city officials.

Why not give it a shot?

What if you could do it? What if you tried – just for one day a week – to dust off the old bike and give it a ride? Quinn and Ashlee have some good advice to get you started.

“Start out slow and keep trying until you feel comfortable,” Quinn suggests. “Make yourself known on the road. Wave or make eye contact and slow down near driveways and around corners. You need to share the road with cars and find a way to communicate.”

“Don’t focus on being fit – just go for an easy ride to someplace fun,” Ashlee adds. “And get your friends involved. It’s way more fun to ride with people.”

Comments and Feedback

This is a very helpful article. Thanks for sharing!

By Larry Jones on Apr 25, 2014 01:15 pm

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