U.S. News and World Report lists riding your bike to work as one of the top “50 Ways to Improve Your Life” in 2009. I couldn’t agree more.
On a freezing november morning in Chicago, Megan Mason puts on leggings, several polyester tops and a fleece, a windbreaker, four pairs of gloves, and silk sock liners. She ties a bandana over her head, dons earmuffs, snaps on a helmet, safety-pins a scarf into a cocoon around her head, and gets on her bright green Schwinn for a 61/2-mile ride to work.
Surely anyone who braves Windy City cold must be a hardcore biker. But Mason, a 27-year-old curriculum analyst at the Northwestern University School of Law, is new to the ranks of cycle commuters—one of thousands of Americans who this year have switched to pedal power. It’s too soon for national numbers, but many cities and counties are reporting a surge. In Chicago, 3,500 people rode in a spring Bike to Work day, up from 2,800 last year. Bikestation, a nonprofit that has six indoor parking facilities for cyclists on the West Coast, mainly in downtown neighborhoods, has seen a 30 percent increase in usage in the past year.