Five Favorites: Reasons to Bike to Work

Photo courtesy of
’15th St bike lane in use’
courtesy of ‘nevermindtheend’

Bike to Work Day registration is now open, so mark your calendar for Friday, May 20!  This awesome event, sponsored by WABA, is a great way to get your feet wet riding your bike around the city. At last year’s event, when I had just started out commuting by bike, I won a raffle for a fantastic messenger bag, got all sorts of great bike gear, and enjoyed free food all before 10 AM– all things that made it a bit easier to integrate biking into my daily commute. And no matter where you live or work you’ll probably be close to one pit stop, where you can pick up your free t-shirt and other bike-related goodies.  And best of all, it’s free!

If you need more reasons to dust off that bike and ride it to work, I’ve got ’em.  The past year of riding my bike to work has been fantastic, so here are my five favorite reasons to bike to work:

5. It could be your fastest way to get there. It certainly is for me!  Every day on my bike I breeze by the bus I typically take, and I get to the office in about half the time it normally takes by public transit.  And with the great network of bike facilities in the city, there are several great bike routes to take through the city.  Still not sure what the best route to work could be?  Check out Ride the City, a fantastic site that gives you options (do you want to get there faster, or do you want to take only bike lanes and bike routes?) for charting the best way to get there.

Photo courtesy of
‘wrong-way bike’
courtesy of ‘philliefan99’

4. You don’t even need a bike of your own to participate. Now that we’ve got Capital Bikeshare stations all across the city, you don’t even need your own bike to bike to work.  Just grab a bike from a station, ride it to work, and drop it off.  The Capital Bikeshare bikes are great for commuting, as they’ve got a little basket area for your bag and you won’t flash half the city if you’re wearing a skirt.  And Capital Bikeshare is also great if you just want to just ride in to work in the morning and commute by another mode in the evening.

Photo courtesy of
‘Hot 99.5’
courtesy of ‘christopher.poole’

3. It’s fun! Biking to work is one of the highlights of my day.  You’re outside, you’re getting a workout, and you’re able to enjoy the trip.  I’d trade a Metro commute where I’m packed like a sardine in for a liberating, refreshing bike ride to work any day. I’m always in a better mood those days when I get to ride my bike to work. So act like a kid again and get on that bike.

Photo courtesy of
‘Biking Rock Creek Park’
courtesy of ‘InspirationDC’

2. It’s healthy and good for the environment. Here’s another time saver: you won’t need to schedule in an extra trip to the gym if you’re biking to work.  You’ll get your blood pumping first thing in the morning and arrive to the office ready to start the day.  And since you’re not taking up an extra seat on the Metro or bus, and not driving your own car, you’re reducing your environmental impact too.

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘volcanojw’

1. There’s safety in numbers. The more people that ride bikes in the city, the safer it it is to bike in the city.  When motorists see cyclists every day, they expect them more, and drive more carefully around them.  It’s a wonderful thing.  So by becoming a bike commuter, you’d be making it safer for me and every other cyclist out there.  And once cycling in the city is perceived to be safer, even more people will start to bike around the city, making it even more safe.

Choosing to start commuting by bike was one of the best decisions I made last year.   So sign up for Bike to Work Day this year and give it a shot– at the very least you’ll get a free t-shirt, and you may even discover your new favorite way to get around the city.

Shannon grew up in the greater DC area/Maryland suburbs, went to Virginia for college and grad school (go Hoos!), and settled in DC in 2006. She’s an urban planner who loves transit (why yes, that is her dressed as a Metro pylon for Halloween), cities, and all things DC. Email her at Shannon (at)!

10 thoughts on “Five Favorites: Reasons to Bike to Work

  1. Good post! Indeed, the more bikes around, the better.
    It’s great to see so many bikes out there and the more we do to promote commuter biking, the better. However, it needs to be said that DC bike users are still quite negligent when it comes to safety.

    I constantly witness bike users ignoring red lights and stops. And the worst part is that they’re usually very poorly visible, with many not even bothering with lights in the evening. I used to bike to work daily and used lights and a flesh vest, even during the day.
    If you ever driven a car, you know that it’s very very easy to miss a bike in a dead angle. Even if as a bike user, you are particularly aware of bike users’ safety.
    I would strongly recommend that on May 20th, instead of t-shirts, bike users get free flash jackets and lights.

  2. Of course it’s fast to bike to work — bikers don’t have to stop at red lights or stop signs, they go the wrong way on streets, and they can drive between cars when traffic is bad.

  3. Capital Bikeshare is not a great way to commute if you live in a neighborhood that has a lot of members, and I imagine it will get worse as weather gets nicer. At least at the stations near me, there are never any bikes available for pick-up in the morning, or any places to return them in the evening. I don’t think the system is really designed for commuting, anyway.

  4. A lot of cars don’t stop at red lights either. Or worse, they speed up on the yellow light and end up speeding through the red light. Or they turn into a crowded crosswalk and try to force pedestrians out of the crosswalk, even when the pedestrians have a WALK sign. I see this happen all the time.

  5. That’s right Ryan. You should join us. But first you’ll need to figure which bicycle behavior you complained about is actually perfectly legal in DC.

  6. I certainly agree with your 5 best reason why ride a bicycle instead of car. It is beneficial to our health, tot he environment and it get us in our work on time. I just hope many will also join of riding a bicycle going to work to avoid traffic.

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  7. It’s a common perception that all bike riders don’t stop at lights/stop signs, or go wrong way on streets. Some do, some don’t. It’s comical when these same critics don’t pay attention to ten times that number of car drivers that run lights/stop signs, speed more than 10 mph over the speed limit, and talk and text while driving, all of which are illegal in most of our jurisdictions. Some of these car drivers do this, some don’t. In the 10 minutes I watched my street corner a while back, 30 cars passed, 16 of them appeared to show a driver holding a phone, 24 of them were estimated going over the 25 mph speed limit, 10 of them went through a red light on the next block, 27 never came to a full stop at the stop sign, and 6 didn’t yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk. And that’s just approximately 10 minutes.
    The point is: lets talk about getting everyone using our roads to obey the law, and avoid the mentality that road are strictly meant for cars, or that only bike riders break the law. The road is meant to be shared by all legal users.

  8. Nothing better than my morning bike commute. It puts me in the best mood ever. It’s the antithesis to the car or metro. DO IT!

  9. I doubt anyone just blasts through a red light willy nilly. Kinda like Jay walking, you slow down and if it’s safe, you go through. Drivers are just jealous because they can’t do it.