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, to save the environment, or just to get around town, we’ve got recommendations on how to make cycling better for everyone. One way you can celebrate this year is by participating in National Bike to Wherever Day, on May 20th (previously Bike to Work Day). If this will be your first time participating or you’re nervous about jumping back into the saddle, here are a few tips to get you started.
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 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 wherever 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.
For many of us, a commute is a reality of life, whether it’s to work or the local shops for our everyday necessities. Most of us don’t have the good fortune to live close to where we work and need to shop. If you can’t travel by car, here is a guide of alternative transportation methods, so you can get where you need to go.
Should I start riding a bike?
Bicycles are an eco-conscious, healthy, and affordable option for transportation. Once you buy the bike, you don’t need to worry about expensive fuel, maintenance, or car insurance. After all, you power the bike yourself.
Cities are increasingly becoming more bike-friendly, adding new bike lanes and cracking down on dangerous driver behavior threatening cyclists. Fortunately, these steps are making the streets safer for those of us who don’t ride a bike, too.
A common choice for cyclists is an electric bicycle. You can generally fold the bikes in half for easy storage in seconds and ride them as traditional bikes. For added convenience, some electric bikes charge your smartphone and come with companion apps to track your distance or even turn on built-in LED lights to ride in style.
If you’re nervous about purchasing a bicycle because of cost, especially when some bicycles can now cost thousands of dollars, look into whether your city has a network of public bikes you can rent. Cities big and small, including New York, Portland, Oregon, and San Francisco, have bicycle stands with bikes available for rent, and there are now apps that have “dockless” bikes. These bike-sharing apps can help you find a bicycle that’s closest to you and can be more convenient. Often, there are also monthly or annual pass options suited for more regular riders, which could cut down your commute cost as well. And with docking stations located throughout bustling business areas of downtown, they offer a convenient alternative to hunting down an open parking space.
Pros of commuting on a bicycle:
Many cities are limiting through traffic on some main streets and expanding their network of bike lanes to make cycling safer
Healthy for you and the environment
Can be more affordable: you can purchase your own bicycle cheaply or rent a shared bike to keep costs low
Cons of commuting on a bicycle:
Regular car traffic can be dangerous, especially in congested areas
Your office or home may not have space for you to store your bike securely
Some bicycles, including electric bikes, may be expensive to purchase or maintain over time
Should I buy a moped to commute?
Mopeds often bring to mind driving along some idyllic European coastline, but they can be a great way to get around here in the U.S., too. Like bicycles, mopeds can keep commute costs low, as they’re cheaper to purchase and maintain than cars.
If you’ve never driven a moped, companies now make it easy to start riding. In some cities, app-based moped rentals are becoming commonplace and usually cost just a few dollars. And there’s no need to own a helmet for the occasional ride — these companies often provide helmets in the cargo trunk, ready for riders!
Pros of commuting on a moped:
Can be more affordable: typically cost a few dollars to unlock and ride
Ready-to-ride with helmets often readily available
Faster than biking and less exerting on your body
Cons of commuting on a moped:
Congested streets can be dangerous or scary, especially for new moped drivers
Limited storage space for your bag, briefcase, or shopping bags
Is public transportation safe for commutes?
Public transportation, whether by bus, rail, or subway, can be a convenient way to get to work and around town. In many major cities and suburbs, it is the most common method of transportation. Generally, costing just a few dollars, it is also the most cost-effective. Plus, when taken instead of driving a car, public transport can be a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and reduce the effects of climate change on the environment.
Pros of commuting on public transportation:
Generally the most cost effective: fares can range from a few cents to a few dollars
You can be more productive while commuting: multi-tasking gives you the opportunity to read your emails or a book
Can be less stressful: you don’t need to worry about traffic because someone else is driving
Cons of commuting on public transportation:
Can be very crowded and uncomfortable during peak morning and early evening commute times
Wait times can be long because of COVID-19, as some agencies have cut frequencies of service
Limited personal space or social distancing when crowded
Cleanliness may be an issue in heavily frequented routes, stations, or stops
Should I continue commuting by driving?
While carpooling may be less common because of health concerns stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, many car owners are finding more value in their vehicles now more than ever. Driving with your family or people who you live with can help alleviate some cleanliness and hygiene concerns.
Pros of commuting by driving:
Convenience of getting on the road straight from your home
If you’re able to commute with a partner, friend or coworker, you can take advantage of the carpool lane for a potentially quicker ride
Could allow you to better maintain social distancing and personal space
Cons of commuting by driving:
Heavy traffic or accidents on the road can slow you down and stress you out
Driving is a significant contributor to climate change
Gas prices and car maintenance can be costly
Car insurance can be expensive and is another added cost to owning a car
If you find yourself driving your car less during the week or with a changed routine, Metromile’s pay-per-mile car insurance could be a great way to save money. When you drive less, you can save more because your bill is based on the miles you drive.
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
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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?
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!
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.
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!