First Posted: 6/6/2013
Cycling – or walking – to work can provide a lot of benefits.
Improving physical fitness, saving money on gas, enjoying your commute more.
There is even that whole lowering your carbon footprint thing.
But, according to a recent study, the advantages of using a bike to get back and forth from work go well beyond the individual doing the riding.
Researchers at Penn State found that people who bicycle or walk to work are likely to influence co-workers or partners to do the same.
And that’s really good news, considering that other studies show how that more than 80 percent of American adults do not meet the guidelines for aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.
Riding or walking to work is something that the lead researcher of the study, assistant professor of kinesiology Melissa Bopp, calls “active commuting.”
And according to Bopp, active commuting (AC) is great way to help adults integrate the recommended activity into their daily routine.
And when your co-workers see you coming to work on your bike, they are more likely to bike or walk to work, too.
“Social influences are important, specifically interpersonal influences, such as spouses and co-workers,” Bopp said. “People who reported that their spouse (actively commute) are more likely to do it themselves.”
Bopp added that the strength of the relationship is also a factor.
“I was surprised at how much of an influence that one’s social life has,” Bopp said.
She added that having a spouse that actively commutes appears to be a very strong factor on whether someone will ride or walk to work.
(Maybe I should be concerned that my wife hasn’t developed my love for riding a bike to work.) According to Bopp, other factors are involved, too.
“Employees who were offered more support are more likely to be active commuters,” Bopp said.
And the community plays a part as well. Bopp said things like bike lanes and parking spots for bikes all make it more likely for people to leave the car at home when they go to work.
Bopp came to her conclusions by studying employees at large companies throughout the state. She also noted that men are more likely to actively commute than women, and people without children are more likely to do it than people with children.
Whatever other factors enter into a person’s decision to use a little healthier way to get to work, it’s nice to know that you can be helping them make that choice just by riding your bike.
Pump it up
I was reminded of an important lesson by Tom Jones of Around Town Bicycles earlier this month.
It’s something I knew but just ignored. I pass it along because I assume many cyclists are like me.
After suffering through several flat tires in a short amount of time last month, Jones asked me if I was pumping up my tires before every ride. Of course, I wasn’t.
Tires can lose 20 percent of their air volume overnight, Jones said. And not replacing that air can lead to flats while you are out on the road. So don’t forget to spend a few minutes with your floor pump before you head out for your next ride.