Tips for Sharing the Road During Bike Awareness Month

Hello, Spring! There’s nothing like the days getting longer and the weather getting warmer to inspire even the most sedentary of us to go outside and enjoy the great outdoors. May is Bike Awareness Month, and you know what that means – an influx of two-wheeled vehicles on the road and cyclists out and about. Whether you’re a biker yourself or just happen to share a lane with one, here are our best tips for being courteous and sharing the road this season.

Tips-for-Sharing-the-Road-During-Bike-Awareness-Month

Tips for Sharing the Road During Bike Awareness Month

  • Be careful when opening your car doors. If you’re parked on the side of the street or getting out of the back of an Uber, always be sure to look behind you before opening your door. In cycling lingo, hitting a biker with your car door is called “dooring” someone; to a cyclist, it is one of the worst things someone can do. Imagine you’re a cyclist moving fast down the bike lane of a busy city street and then suddenly a car door opens in front of you – how do you react? Do you swerve into traffic and risk getting hit? Do you brake hard and pray that you don’t catapult over your handlebars? Or do you collide with the open door and risk badly injuring yourself and the person getting out of the vehicle? Any way you slice the scenario, it doesn’t end well for the cyclist. Always be courteous and respectful and be sure to look behind you for oncoming bikers before opening your car door
  • Always check for bikers before making a right-hand turn. If you’ve ever driven in the city, you know that the bike lane is almost always the farthest right lane on the road. It’s even farther over than the right turning lane for vehicles, which can be dangerous if the cyclist is going straight through the intersection and the vehicle is turning right – that’s an accident waiting to happen. Before a right-hand turn, look over your right shoulder to spot any bikers approaching the intersection from behind you. Be sure to yield to them if they are going straight through the intersection and prevent a tragedy from happening.
  • Give at least a 3-foot clearance when passing. Remember in driver’s ed, they taught you to give a cyclist at least a 3-foot clearance when passing them? No, just me? Okay, cool. So since I was the only person paying attention in driver’s ed, I’m here to tell you: this rule is true. It is also a law in some states. Giving less than a 3-foot clearance may cause you to accidentally sideswipe a cyclist, especially if they need to maneuver away from some roadside debris.
  • Never drive in the bike lane. This rule is just common courtesy! Bike lanes were added to many city streets to accommodate and encourage cyclists to ride safely with traffic. When you drive in the bike lane, you’re inhibiting bikers from traveling safely on busy city streets, potentially putting them in harm’s way.
  • Don’t assume. As with drivers, even the most skilled cyclists make mistakes sometimes. Always approach a cyclist with caution when driving, and don’t assume their actions will be predictable. If you’ve ever ridden a bike, you know how easy it is to suddenly lose balance on a tricky shoulder or have your foot slip from the pedal. Give all cyclists, regardless of skill level, enough space and clearance and always pass carefully. Be patient. As always, you should only pass a cyclist when it’s safe to do so, even if it means driving slowly behind them for a while.

Whether you’re a driver or a cyclist, be courteous to others and share the roads this Spring. We’re all in this together! If you’re biking to work this Spring and Summer and curious about how much you could save on your car insurance by switching to Metromile, click here to get a free quote!

Julianne Cronin is a Bay Area freelance writer, content creator, and founder/editor of the women’s lifestyle site, The Wink. You can find her working on her capsule wardrobe, collecting cacti, and trying out the latest beauty products on Instagram

National Bike Month: How to Participate

May is National Bike Month, so we’re exploring ways to make commuting by bike easier and safer. Whether you ride your bike for fun, to get fit, save the environment or get around town, we’ve got recommendations on how to make cycling better for everyone. One way you can celebrate this year is participating in National Bike to Work Day, on May 19th. If this will be your first time biking to work or you’re nervous about jumping back into the saddle, here are a few tips to get you started.

biking_to_work

Plan your route. Google Maps is a good way to find bike friendly streets by selecting the “bicycling” option. Keep in mind that your preferred route by car won’t always be the safest option while riding a bike. If you’ll be taking your bike with you on to public transit, make sure there aren’t any limitations on how many bikes can be accommodated.

Check your bike. If your bike hasn’t had much action lately, double check your tires and brakes. It’s also always a good idea to make sure your chain is well lubricated and free of debris. Take a short ride around the block just to make sure everything is in working order.

Safety first. Before leaving the house, put on your helmet and reflective clothing to help with visibility. Depending on where you live, there may also be legal requirements for a front and back light. Both are especially important when cycling at night. While riding, watch for opening car doors and follow regular traffic laws. Once you reach your destination, be sure to lock your bike securely.

Even if you won’t be able to bike to work this week, drivers can still help make the roads safer for cyclists. While driving, keep these quick tips in mind:

Pass with care. Give bicyclists a 3-foot buffer while passing, and on multi-lane roads, switch lanes to ensure there is plenty of room.

Exit safely. Always double-check for cyclists before opening your door.

Mind your speed. Increased speed can mean the difference between an injury and a fatality. Follow speed limits and use caution while driving near bicyclists.

If you find that you’re biking more often than driving, Metromile’s per-mile car insurance could help you save. Head over to www.metromile.com/insurance to learn more.

9 Alternative Commute Options

The following is a guest post from Neil Richardson, an advisor for The Zebra, the nation’s largest car insurance comparison marketplace.

For the working masses who commute on a daily basis, private cars (75%) or car pools (9%) are most often the transportation of choice. But for those who can’t or don’t want to travel by car every day, there are plenty of other options for getting where you need to go.

commute_options

Bikes

Bicycles are a green, healthy and affordable option, and cities are increasingly becoming more bike-friendly, adding new bike lanes and cracking down on dangerous driver behavior that threatens cyclists. (See the League of American Bicyclists’ state-by-state guide to bicycle laws and ranking of the most bicycle-friendly cities and states.)

Cost? You can find plenty of used bikes on Craigslist for under $100, or for new models, you can expect to pay anything from $200 to $5,000+. The Zebra likes:

1. Cyclotron bike ($1,100-$2,990): Modeled after the one in the movie Tron, this bike has no spokes or tires, is “smart” (connected to an app), and has cool LED wheels with extra storage space.

2. Gi FlyBike ($2,000): This bike was created for commuters. It folds in half for easy storage in seconds, and it can be ridden as a traditional bike or by activating its electric mode, which can give riders a rest for up to 40 miles. The Gi FlyBike also has smartphone charging and is expected to start shipping in March 2017. (more…)

Biking 101: The Commute

May is National Bike Month, and what better time to try your hand at a new commute? More than half of Americans live within five miles of their office, which is about a 30 minute bike ride. Biking to work offers many benefits: it saves time and money and is good for the environment. Plus, you’ll getting a workout in!

drive less

If you’re thinking about biking to work, but don’t know what you need or where to get started, we’ve gathered some best practices and good habits for your bike commute:

Bike to Work 101

Get your gear: You don’t need to have a full bicycle kit to ride to work. However, we do recommend wearing a sturdy helmet and finding a reliable bike lock. Many urban offices have a bike room you can store your bike in during the day, so be sure to utilize that if it’s an option.

Test ride: Google Maps offers routes for an optimized bike commute on streets with bike paths. Test your ride in off-commute hours or on a non-work day to get a hang of your route.

Follow the rules of the road: Always bike in the same direction of traffic, and keep a pulse on the cars, bikes and pedestrians around you. Read more bicycle safety tips here.

Good Habits

Keep the phone out of sight: You’ll want to keep your eyes on the road and your ears out for honking, approaching cars and ambulances.

Use clear hand signals: Using your left hand to signal while biking helps communicate your route clearly with the drivers around you.

Dress for the ride: Make sure the drivers around you are aware you are there, and on two wheels. Wear bright colors during the day and reflective gear at night.

National Bike to Work Week is May 16-20, 2016. Bike to Work Day is May 20, 2016.

Don’t have a bike? Many urban areas have bike share programs, which allow riders an allotted time for transportation for a small annual fee. If you find yourself on two wheels more often than four, pay-per-mile car insurance could be a great option for you. Find out more here.

Shift Gears on Bike to Work Day

If you’ve toyed with the idea of biking to work, now is the time to take off those (hypothetical) training wheels. Today, cities across the US are celebrating Bike to Work Day, an occasion that illuminates the benefits of biking to work. Even one day per week of biking to work can have a significant impact in reducing your carbon footprint. Did you know a 4-mile bike commute keeps 15lbs of pollution out of the air?

Here at Metromile, we joined in the fun by sprinkling bike seat covers across San Francisco and hosting a refreshment station outside of our office to refuel and reward bikers joining the cause. Per usual, our swag wheel was a hit!

Bike to Work

Although the name might suggest the contrary, Bike to Work Day isn’t just about biking on one single day. The ultimate purpose of the event is to show the community just how easy and sustainable it is to bike to work. Many of the cities participating in Bike to Work Day already have dedicated bike lanes, and chances are your office has some sort of bike parking available. If you are a Metromile per-mile insurance customer, biking to work can also save you money because the less you drive, the more you save. And if you aren’t a customer, now is the time to make the switch!

Go on a Low Carbon Diet by Driving Less

 

California governor Jerry Brown recently ordered the most aggressive carbon emission cut goal in the US. He is aiming to cut carbon emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, matching a target set by the EU. This should have a significant impact on the US’s overarching goal, which is to reduce emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025. Some higher level initiatives include deriving electricity from renewable sources and reducing petroleum usage in cars and trucks, but there is plenty you can personally do to make a difference, California resident or not. So what does a “low carbon diet” entail?

Reduce Carbon Emissions

More biking and public transit: Warmer weather is here, so ride your bike or walk in order to avoid carbon emissions completely. Carpooling and public transportation also drastically reduces your carbon footprint by spreading fuel usage across multiple riders. If you are a pay-per-mile insurance customer with Metromile, this will also save you tons of money!

Smarter driving: There are times when biking won’t cut it, like when you go on a weekend road trip or a big grocery run. Luckily there are a few hacks that will reduce your carbon footprint when you do have to drive. Keep a light foot on the gas pedal. Speeding wastes gas and money, and also increases your carbon footprint. In fact, take your foot off the pedal completely. Cruise control also helps reduce CO2 emissions while driving and makes the trip a little more enjoyable.

Less baggage: The heavier your car, the more fuel you burn and CO2 you emit. This is why we like to follow the “less is more” rule of thumb when packing. If you do need to carry bikes or snow gear, get a hitch mounted rack. Car top carriers not only cost more, but also increase aerodynamic drag and decrease fuel economy.

Optimized routes: Being stuck in traffic wastes gas and creates unnecessary CO2. It also likely doesn’t fit into your busy schedule. Check out our recent blog post about how to beat traffic. And when you are out and about, combine errands to reduce the number of trips you make.

A great side effect of the low carbon diet is saving money. With Metromile’s affordable car insurance, you only get charged for the miles you drive. The bottom line? Drive less and you can save money (and the environment). If you aren’t already a customer learn how much you could save!

Beat the Traffic: How Does Your City Rank?

 

Metromile app users in Los Angeles spend an average of six hours per week in their cars. And a new study from TomTom finds that coincidentally (or not coincidentally) LA is the most congested city in the US and the 10th most congested city in the world. So what does that mean for your commute? And more importantly, what can we do to reduce all of this congestion?

LA has a 40% increase in overall travel time compared to what TomTom classifies as “free flow”, which means driving without any congestion. Other major west coast cities are up there too: SF at 34%, Seattle at 31% and Portland at 26%. All of these cities have more traffic on local roads versus highways. Interestingly, all of these cities also have about a 15-25% increase from morning peak hours to night peak hours. Portland has a 35% increase in travel time in the morning but jumps up to a 61% increase in the evening. Meaning, your morning commute might not be that bad, but be prepared for some evening gridlock.

Beat Traffic

So what is the takeaway from all of this data? Do whatever you can to drive less. Nearly all of these cities have great public transit systems, and many are focusing on making their roads more bike friendly. A national Bike to Work Week (which happens to be next week!) is also helping to raise awareness. And if you do need a car to get to work, try to avoid commuting during peak evening hours.

Here at Metromile, we believe that pay-per-mile insurance incentivizes people to drive less, therefore removing cars from the road. While we are currently seeing that our LA app users spend six hours per week in their cars, our per-mile insurance customers are averaging four and a half hours. If you only get charged for the miles you drive, there’s more reason to find alternative transportation methods, like biking or taking the train. Fewer cars on the road results in less traffic, which means less commuting time for people that do have to drive!

Want to see how much you could save with per-mile insurance? Learn more here!