Wednesday, March 27, 2013

How to Commute by Bike series

In anticipation of the warmer weather (and maybe to encourage its arrival), I'm going to be writing a series on how to commute by bike. May is also national Bike to Work month and just around the corner. Thought about trying, but just not sure where to start? Wondered how those who bike to work look fabulous (or, okay, not windblown and sweaty but normal just like everyone else)? I'll be addressing questions like:  to shower or not to shower; how to dress for success (on and off the bike); what kind of bike is best for commuting; how to determine an good bike route to work, etc.

You brought what with you on a bike?!?

This series will be good for commuters of all levels - beginner through experienced. We'll talk about what to wear, how to pack, regular and periodic bike maintenance, bike parking and riding etiquette.
Comments about what you'd like to hear, what you do and your questions are always welcomed. Look for upcoming posts soon.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Attempt #2

At a recent social get together, a friend invited me to join her in training for a local ride upcoming in April. After a few questions, she was all excited and we were talking about bikes. Smiling face, hands a-flying, laughter. She talked about how this would be her first time back on bike in at least 10 years. And her bike of choice to train for this 25 mile ride:  a much-in-need-of-some-TLC mountain bike. I knew the kind. I was an owner of a 21 speed black and teal huffy mountain bike and rode it around much to my heart's content.

I found myself hesitating at the invitation at first, despite my goal of group riding for 2013. Her excitement was contagious. After a phone-call follow up, she had me convinced. I was ready to ride. The next morning we were scheduled to make a drive to join the rest of the group in Greenville to train. However, I got an early morning email - after I was up and dressed to go - letting me know she had to cancel due to an illness.

Like you need to do in life, I seized the moment and headed out on my own. I road along city streets and country roads, taking in new sights and visiting some new places. A chance to clear my mind and get away from the stress of the week. Bike rides, runs, long walks - these are all ways that individuals can de-stress and exercise. Creating places that folks can do these activities are an important part of building healthy communities.

Riding for two hours gave me an opportunity to enjoy a morning on the cusp of spring. Though, again, not quite making it to a group ride, I was happy and pleased with myself. I said yes to an opportunity extended to me by a female friend. Though things didn't go as planned, I was satisfied with the result. With two rides down, here's hoping the third time is the charm.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Supporting State Advocacy Organizations

State advocacy organizations are an important part of the bicycle community chain. They do a lot of work on the behalf of all people who ride bikes:  weekend warriors, joyriders, commuters, young, old, mid-life, family, single. They are the grease on the bike chain that keeps things moving. Anyone who rides a bike could say thank you, raise a glass or offer support to these guys.

In South Carolina, the Palmetto Cycling Coalition is our state bike advocacy group. This is not the first time this organization has been mentioned on this blog. They review state polices and plans, work to implement real changes and guide the DOT, develop public safety campaigns, publish newsletters, host summits, support bicycle-friendly business development, sponsor conferences, developing an informed network of city leaders across the state  and lend support to local groups. They do a lot of work to make bike riding safer and better for you and your loved ones.

Why am I bringing attention to them? Because, without this group, there would be few bicycle rights, policies and plans. Located in Columbia, they are able to make the most of their location near state legislators and leaders. It's important to acknowledge, and financially support them. Joining the non-profit PCC is easy, and has a big bang for the buck:  they have little overhead, so support goes to causes. Memberships start at $35 for individuals ($15 for students!), and corporate memberships start at $100. Do your employees bike to work? Do you do work that enhances bicycle infrastructure? Perhaps your business should consider joining the PCC. If you sometimes drive and sometimes ride to work, commit to riding a majority of the time over the next 2 weeks, and support the PCC for the next year with the money saved.

The state non-profit bike advocate groups can do some amazing things for bicycle riders. Georgia Bikes! in Georgia has done some great programs and energized the state to take to the street by two wheels. In Wisconsin, the Bicycle Federation engages in bicycle planning, and has recently expanded from one office to two!

I'm advocating for the state's bike advocacy group because they are an important part of bicycle community chain. Please support their mission and become a member today!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Upcoming Opportunities for Involvement

It's always good to get involved, and with biking, their are a number of different ways to join the movement. (Pun unintended. Well, maybe it is!) Bike riding, sitting on a committee, taking public outreach surveys and attending conferences are just some of the ways to join in. Read on to learn more about participating in some upcoming bike-related opportunities.

Southern Mountain Bike Summit. Over the weekend of March 22 - 24, the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) and the Southern Off-Road Biking Association (SORBA) will be hosting a bike summit in Woodstock, GA. The summit will provide opportunities to ride, network and learn about many things, including trail engineering, fundraising and PR approaches to getting people off-road and on their bikes.

SC Multimodal State Plan. As you might recall, SCDOT is updating their statewide transportation plan. Updates include provisions for bikes and peds. A public opinion survey is open until March 12 (extended from its original date) for you to participate in. This plan will inform the state's transportation policies through the year 2040.Please consider taking a few minutes from your day to provide valuable input.

Winning Campaigns Training. There's an opportunity to attend a workshop put on by the national organization Alliance for Biking and Walking. In Athens, GA the Georiga state advocacy group Georgia Bikes will be hosting a training weekend from April 5-7. Back in 2011, I attend this training when it was hosted by the Palmetto Cycling Coalition. I found it to be a great opportunity to learn, engage and network. It was a very enriching and empowering time!

City of Clemson Bike Plan Update. On Monday, March 11 a Bike Plan update is on the agenda for the City of Clemson Planning Commission. The meeting is open to the public and will be a great opportunity to get a state of the bike plan. Hear first hand what's going on and what has yet to be done.

Check out these or other opportunities to get involved!