US News and World Report’s #1 way to improve your life in 2009

Ride your bike to work.

It was a bit striking opening up my parent’s copy of US News and World Report and seeing a full page on how “biking to work” should be the first thing to do in 2009 to improve your life. If this isn’t a sign of bicycle commuting becoming mainstream, then I don’t know what is. Let’s not miss this boat, Pittsburgh. If it’s not made it safe and convenient, people won’t do it.

Ride Your Bike to Work
You can save money on gas and get some extra exercise
By Marc Silver
Posted December 18, 2008
On a freezing november morning in Chicago, Megan Mason puts on leggings, several polyester tops and a fleece, a windbreaker, four pairs of gloves, and silk sock liners. She ties a bandana over her head, dons earmuffs, snaps on a helmet, safety-pins a scarf into a cocoon around her head, and gets on her bright green Schwinn for a 6½-mile ride to work.

Surely anyone who braves Windy City cold must be a hardcore biker. But Mason, a 27-year-old curriculum analyst at the Northwestern University School of Law, is new to the ranks of cycle commuters—one of thousands of Americans who this year have switched to pedal power. It’s too soon for national numbers, but many cities and counties are reporting a surge. In Chicago, 3,500 people rode in a spring Bike to Work day, up from 2,800 last year. Bikestation, a nonprofit that has six indoor parking facilities for cyclists on the West Coast, mainly in downtown neighborhoods, has seen a 30 percent increase in usage in the past year.

The price of gas is a factor, but not the only one. Rookie riders love the exercise and they enjoy the ride. “I explore areas I don’t usually see,” says Mason, who stays within bike lanes for much of her commute. “I hop off and do errands.”

The thought of urban cycling can pose a minicrisis for a newcomer….
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