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5 things to know if you're a new bike commuter

Bicyclist rides along ASU Tempe campus

National Bike Month is a perfect time to start two-wheel commuting.

May 01, 2018

May is National Bike Month. Established in 1956, the monthlong observance aims to showcase the benefits of cycling and encourage noncyclists to give it a try. Trisalyn Nelson, director at the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning and an avid bike commuter, offered five pieces of advice for current and potential bike commuters in the Valley:

1. You don’t need any special gear. Think you can’t be a bike commuter unless you’re outfitted in colorful spandex? Think again. “You should feel totally comfortable in whatever you’re going to wear for the rest of the day,” said Nelson. “Lots of times there’s a perception that cycling requires spandex, but that’s not the case.”

2. You don’t need a fancy, expensive bike. “I don’t think you need to have a fancy bike but you might want to make friends with a bike technician,” said Nelson. “I think sometimes people get turned off because they either have the wrong bike or their bike is in disrepair; it can be worth investing a little bit to make sure your brakes work well and your tires are not going to get flat all the time.”

3. You need to stay hydrated. This should be a no-brainer to anyone who has lived through an Arizona summer. It gets hot and you need to carry lots of water to stay safely hydrated. Water also offers another great benefit, said Nelson: Natural air conditioning. “If it’s getting really hot, the No. 1 thing you can do to be happier is to wear a natural fiber shirt and put water on your back, by the time you get to where you’re going you’ll likely be dry.”

4. You can use apps to help you ride safely. BikeMaps is a helpful app and website that can help cyclists find a safe route. Founded by Nelson, the website and app work globally and allow people to map their crashes and near-misses. Strava is another app, often used by athletes, that can benefit city commuters. “Recently, Maricopa Association of Governments bought Strava data so that we could try and understand ridership in the city better. You can use these apps to monitor your own movement but you’re also contributing to a massive data source,” said Nelson.

5. You can gain lifelong benefits. “If people are concerned about biking and they can find a way to overcome their safety concerns, they’ll have lifelong health and financial benefits,” said Nelson.

Nelson also emphasized ASU’s continued role in supporting bike commuters traveling to campus. “If there are things ASU could be doing to support, let us know so we can start to accommodate those requests.”

Students or faculty that ride to Tempe campus can take advantage of free showers at the Sun Devil Fitness Complex or Wrigley Hall. Learn more about resources for biking at ASU.

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