Since it’s Bike to Work day, we asked Meagan, our Trip Design Manager, to tell us her thoughts on biking to work in the bike friendly town of Madison, WI.

How does 20 minutes each day improve my happiness level by 50%? I will tell you how: biking to work. Seriously, it takes me 10 extra minutes each direction to bike rather than drive to my office and I start and finish my days AT LEAST 50% happier than when I drive. There’s just something about it: it could be as simple as breathing in the fresh morning air, or the smiles I get along the way from other commuters. Or maybe it is that tiny bit of sweat that I get when I climb the little hill on my wayback to my house that makes me feel like I accomplished something and inspires me for my workout. I love the way biking to work makes me feel and now that I have my routine, it isn’t a huge commitment.

Trust me, I know what it is like to come up with excuses not to ride to work. Things like, “I have a meeting out of the office and I might need to drive there” or “what if something happens at home and I need to rush there in my car?” or “I hate helmet hair”. Well, the fact is that it just isn’t that big of a deal. Nine times out of ten, I can borrow a car in an emergency and I can almost always bike instead of ride to places in town (and it is much more enjoyable). My hair doesn’t get too messed up, I don’t need to wear dorky cycling clothes or worry about being super sweaty (we also have a shower at work when I really need it). I can also carry whatever I need in my backpack or panniers.There are just no good excuses in the summertime not to bike to work.

What’s really needed, you ask? I’d say only a few things:

  • A bike (duh. It can be any kind of bike–1 wheel, 2 wheels, heck, even 3 wheels).
  • A helmet (for your big brain)
  • Sunglasses (unless you like squinting or bugs in your eyes)
  • A positive attitude

That’s it. Pretty simple. I mean, you can get all fancy with a special commuter bike with fenders, panniers, lights, cup holders, baskets, bells…and there are tons of cute commuter clothes (check out some of the new Bontrager stuff for women). But really, if you have a reasonably short commute you don’t NEED much. It takes a bit of planning but once you get into it, it’s simple and fun.

Now’s the perfect time to give it a try because May is National Bike to Work Month. I’ll bet you love it!

Here are some tips to get you started from the League of American Cyclists:

  • Commit to riding one to two days a week and then build from there.
  • On a weekend day, do a practice ride. Map out your test route. See how long it takes you to pack up your bike and pedal to work. Then plan accordingly and know what time you’ll need to get up and not feel totally rushed.
  • Enlist an office mate to ride with you. Coordinate a meeting place and ride together. When you have someone counting on you, you’re more likely to ride. Once your other office mates see you riding, they might be enticed to join in, too.
  • Check if your city has a bicycle and pedestrian coordinator on staff. Then ask him/her for bicycle maps and best commuting routes for two wheels.

Pedal on…