Last year I participated in Bike to Work Day for the first time, and despite getting stung by a bee before I got off my street, I made it to work and back. I enjoyed it so much that I started biking to work one day a week until I could no longer handle the heat. I had intended to start back up again in the fall, but, well, my bike needed a tuneup, and my hip hurt a little, and I’ve been busy, and…
And, no more excuses! Bike to Work Day is back, and I’m in again. I hope you’ll join me and hundreds of others across the Valley. Just maybe getting back out with the birds and breeze will spark another bike commuting habit, even if only a temporary one.
And this year, if exercise, reduced emissions and fresh air aren’t enticing enough to get you on your bike, how about free food and T-shirts?
Four stations will be set up around Scottsdale with free water, drinks, snacks, bike maps and two (!) free T-shirts (one from the City of Scottsdale and one from Valley Metro while supplies last) for Bike to Work Day participants. Stop by between 6:30 and 9 a.m.
(Photo: Me holding Scottsdale’s free T-shirt designed by Scottsdale Public Art Events Assistant Kayla Newnam)
Station will be set up on the bike path between Loop 101 and Via Linda. From the park entrance, head to the south end of the parking lot near the restrooms, playground and tennis courts and continue to the Indian Bend Wash Path.
One Civic Center (sponsored by the Scottsdale Transportation Department)
Station will be set up on the south side of First Avenue west of 75th Avenue.
ASU SkySong (sponsored by Workiva, Inc.)
Station will be set up under the large shade sails near the intersection of SkySong Boulevard and Innovation Place.
If you can’t make it to one of the stops, you can email a bike selfie from your commute to Senior Transportation Planner Susan Conklu, and she’ll coordinate getting you a t-shirt. If you post your commute on social media, please tag it with #BikeScottsdale, #BikeToWorkDay, and #ShareTheRide.
If you’re new to bike commuting, below are some helpful tips and links:
Tips for Bike Commuter Newbies
- Use bike maps to plan your route ahead of time. You rarely take the same route you would in a car, and there’s often a quieter or more scenic option on paths or through neighborhoods. Scottsdale’s online interactive map of public amenities includes citywide bikeways, unpaved trails and path crossings like tunnels and bridges. To view these features, zoom into an area, and select the legend symbol at the left. Another good resource is the Maricopa Association of Government’s online MAG Bikeways Map . Along with types of lanes, paths and crossings, it also shows bike shops and intersections with public transportation across the Valley. Another tool is the bike icon in Google Maps, which allows you to view lane and path options.
- Try a practice run. Before you must bike on a schedule, try out your planned route. You’ll have a chance to fine tune any tricky parts without the pressure of having to get to work on time. It will also give you a better idea of how long the ride will take.
- Check out your bike a few days before you try the full commute. Most importantly, check your ABCs:
- Air: Make sure your tires aren’t losing air.
- Brakes: Make sure they’re working properly.
- Chain: Make sure your chain is moving and shifting smoothly. Before you ride, make sure that nothing is hanging off you, such as long shoe laces, that could get caught in your bike chain.
- Find out what, if any, support your office provides for bike commuters. Many offices have showers, for example. Some also have bike storage.
- Put together a biking essentials kit. At a minimum you should bring the following items: water, helmet, sunscreen, band aids, wet wipes and a bike lock. And, if there’s any chance you will be biking in the dark, you will also need a front light and a red rear reflector or light, which are required by law. Bike shops will have the most selection, but you can also pick up the minimum lights you need for less than $10 at hardware stores, discount department stores like Target or Walmart, and sporting goods stores.
You will probably also want to bring a toiletries kit to freshen up when you get to work, and if you can’t bike in your work clothes, you’ll also need to bring those. Consider bringing these items in earlier in the week so you have less to carry.
If, unlike me, you do know how to change a bike tire, bring an extra tube and a pump.
Finally, I highly recommend a snack if you don’t normally exercise this much, extra water and Benadryl (watch out for bees).
- Consider finding a bike buddy. Depending on the size of your office, you might be able to find a co-worker who bikes from the same part of town you’ll be coming from. I’ve met few people as willing to share their knowledge and completely rearrange their schedule to promote their cause as bike commuters. If you can’t find anyone at your office, you may be able to find a biking partner through Valley Metro’s Share the Ride Program.
- If you don’t ride with a buddy, let someone else know you’re biking. Make sure a friend or co-worker knows you’re commuting by bike and when they should expect to either see you or hear from you.
- Make sure your cellphone is charged and you have a backup plan. Just as you would with a car, make sure you have a backup plan in case of bike problems or an emergency. It’s a good idea to bring a bus card or money for a cab or have a ride service you can contact. Some companies also provide cab reimbursement for emergencies as part of a trip reduction program (required of Maricopa County employers with 50 or more employees at a site). Check with your employer to find out if they participate in the program and what they offer.
- Get out of the all-or-nothing mentality. If you don’t want to bike 20 miles or 15 miles or even 5 miles, you don’t have to. You can participate in Bike to Work Day anyway you want. Maybe that means driving to a Park and Ride and then biking to work from there. Combining your bike ride with public transportation is another option.
- Be a good partner on paths and roads. When you come up behind pedestrians on the multiuse paths, let them know you’re approaching about 50 feet out, and as you get closer let them know which side you’re passing them on. Be sure to speak loud enough to be heard over headphones, babies and barks. On the road, signal what moves you intend to make and bike within bike lanes wherever possible. Below are links with more helpful biking etiquette information.
- More Helpful Links:
Scottsdale Paths & Trails: Learn more about Bike to Work Day in Scottsdale, including where to get 20% off at Starbucks and how to get a free t-shirt.
MAG Bikeways map: As mentioned above, this is an online, detailed biking map for Maricopa County.
Valley Metro Bike Brochure: This is another good resource for beginning bike commuters.
Valley Metro Valley Bike Month: See all events happening around the Valley this month.
Valley Metro’s Bikes on Transit: Learn how to put your bike on the bus or light rail.
Arizona Department of Transportation Bicycle and Pedestrian Program: This page includes good information about biking etiquette and safety.