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Bicycle commuting for beginners

When Tim McDermott looks at rising traffic congestion, increased environmental awareness and soaring gas prices, he sees a perfect storm in favour of bicycle commuting.

As the product manager of bicycling at Mountain Equipment Co-op in Toronto, McDermott often travels by bike to work and social events.

"I just do it because it's convenient. If I go to a hockey game, I just ride my bike. I'd rather spend $10 drinking beers downtown than pay $10 to park my car. I just think it's really, really a convenient way to get around, and I think once people see that, it'll get more people into riding," he says.

Keith Hallgren became a full-time bicycle commuter in May 2007. The Edmonton resident, who is a mechanic and shop facilitator for the Edmonton Bicycle Commuters' Society Shop, BikeWorks, has plenty of good things to say about bicycle commuting.

"When I arrive at work, I tend to be energized and refreshed, and even after a long day in the shop, I find that the ride home re-energizes me and puts me in a much better mood than if I had been battling rush hour traffic in my car," he says. Besides being in the best shape of his life and feeling good about having a reduced environmental impact, Hallgren replaced 16,000 km of car mileage with biking last year -- a huge savings in gas and maintenance costs.

Whether for health, environmental, convenience or financial reasons, here's some good advice about how to become a bicycle commuter.

Find the right bike style
"Any bicycle will work, but it has to be comfortable for you so that you will enjoy the daily experience," says Michael Kalmanovitch, president of the Edmonton Bicycle Commuters' Society and a year-round commuter.

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-- Posted: August 22, 2008
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