The answer is yes, according to John R. Bennett of the Savannah Bicycle Campaign. Not only does it improve your commuting well-being, bicycling improves your performance and productivity, makes you more pleasant to be around — and saves you money on parking and gas.
Bennett moved to Savannah in 1993, where he lived downtown and walked everywhere. When he moved south of Victory Drive, he realized the distance he was driving just didn’t make sense.
“I like to equate it to using a steamroller to iron a shirt — there’s just no point,” He quipped.
Finding a $25 bike on Craigslist, he fixed it up and started commuting to his Downtown office location. Prior to his decision the bike rack at his office was empty and the parking lot was overflowing. What did he notice after sticking to his decision to commute by bike?
“By normalizing the bicycle commuting experience for everyone else, I started to see more and more people using the racks,” He answered. “And after 6 months, they had to install another bike rack.”
He started a blog in 2005 to document his commuting experience, which led him to friendships with local bicyclists and eventually led to the creation of the Savannah Bicycle Campaign, a community organization that helps make Savannah better through bicycling. They focus on the 5 Es of bicycling (Education, Engineering, Evaluation/Planning, Encouragement and Enforcement) and have helped the city gain recognition as a Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly Community. Savannah was also just recognized as being 4th in the Southeast for Bicycle Commuting.
But what are the benefits of bicycling for a business or city? What about the benefit for a coworking space?
Would you rather have a collaborative, creative environment or a bunch of desk jockeys? Not only does bicycling promote creativity, increase productivity and make your employees more pleasant to be around, but studies show it reduces healthcare costs and bicyclists tend to have fewer sick days. Increasing bicycle traffic also improves retail sales and economies. While a bicyclists may spend less per trip, they continue to visit more throughout the month (particularly at grocery stores) and actually end up spending more overall. Bicycling can be a social and creative activity that fits in perfectly within the coworking environment.
Did his presentation get you more interested in being a bicycle commuter or getting back out on the road or trails? Looking to purchase your new bike?
Go local! Buy a bike from one of our local bicycle shops — like Bicycle Link, Perry Rubber Bike Shop, Star Bike or Quality Bike Shop — as they can help your properly fit your new ride. Over the past few years more commuting style bikes and utilitarian bikes have become popular, allowing for more affordable styles. For preventing bike theft, Bennett recommends using both a cable lock and u-lock.
Worried about a bulky helmet cramping your sense of fashion? Helmet design is changing, featuring more unique designs that appeal to a variety of styles. And remember to buy a front and rear light! Bike lights now come in USB rechargeable varieties, meaning you can charge them at your desk while you work and be ready to go come sundown.
Finally, remember your road rules! Ride with traffic and on the road, as riding against traffic increases your risk of getting into an accident by 400-500%. And for drivers, remember the 3 Feet to Pass Law, which requires drivers to stay at least three feet away from bicycles when overtaking.
Complete streets are part of our legacy as Savannahians. We have many great streets that are safe for all users, but if we keep building automobile dependent societies it has horrible consequences for people who don’t rely on cars. Both bicyclists and car drivers find buffered or protected bike lanes appealing — it doesn’t make sense that we don’t have more!
If you’re interested in making bicycling a part of your daily life, please take time to contact your elected officials and make them aware of your support for these services.
Thanks for joining our Lunch’N’Thinc! Here’s to a happier, healthier and more productive week.
Want to get more involved with the Savannah Bicycle Campaign? Register today for the Midnight Garden Ride, happening this Saturday, October 11! This family-friendly, 10 mile, police escorted ride takes place right near our offices in Ellis Square and is a fantastic way to explore the city by night. Visit their website for more information.