Switching Gears

Remember your first bike. Maybe it was shiny and pristine. Perhaps, your bike had streamers. You were a kid then, and though a number of efforts have been made to improve the culture of biking for adults in cities throughout America, the cons of biking to work exist. A reporter from The New York Times asks, “Will bicycling to work get you killed?”

Within the last three years, the City of Evansville has designated more than 20 new miles of on-street bikeways. The lanes include routes on Lincoln Avenue from the eastern county line to Downtown and on the West Side’s Franklin Street. Other bikeways exist; all have the same purpose to give cyclists more room and keep them safe.

For the novice ready for the benefits of commuting by bike (Healthy lifestyle! Environmentally friendly! Less gas!), the first step is to buy the right bike. In Evansville, forget about a mountain or racing bike if the two-wheeler’s main purpose is to commute. Eric Muffett, co-owner of Breck’s Bicycle Shop, recommends the Townie Euro 8i ($999.99). It exemplifies an all-around-town bike. Here’s why this commuter bike stands above the rest.

The bike’s low seat positions the pedals low to the ground, and that’s good news for bikers in heavy traffic areas. They need the balls of their feet to firmly touch the ground to stop quickly. (In the bike world, this is a big deal, says Muffett. The Townie has exclusive flat-foot technology.) Also, for commuters who ride rain or shine, Muffett says, the Townie’s roller hub brakes are special stoppers that shed water quickly to reduce dirt buildup.

The bicycle comes well-equipped with commuter essentials such as an alloy rear rack with a strap for cargo (such as a briefcase), a generator hub to power the headlight, a full-length chain guard to prevent pants from catching in the chain, and a battery-operated tail light. Additional accessories Muffett suggests for bike commuters are a bell and mirror to increase cyclist awareness. “Unless there is a designated bike lane,” he says, “people in this area aren’t programmed to recognize bicycles on the roads.” Before heading to work, Muffett suggests choosing routes that aren’t congested with traffic. “Depending on where you work, you may have to ride a little farther,” he says, “but ultimately, it’s all about safety.”

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