It's National Bike to Work Week, but Roswell's own Bill Hamilton doesn't need a special week to ride - he does it every day.
Hamilton commutes the 9.5 miles from his Roswell home to the LexisNexis office in Alpharetta on his bike nearly every day. There are plenty of cycling benefits that appeal to Hamilton - who saves about $180 on gasoline per month - but one especially sticks out.
"The main benefit for me is the way it makes you feel; you feel better. Your body is working well," he said.
Hamilton may be onto something. The metro Atlanta area has some of the worst traffic in the country, leading to more time spent in a car by commuters each year. A recent study by Washington University in St. Louis found that longer commutes can cause all kinds of health problems, according to this Prevention Magazine article, which also lists cycling as a way to fight a bad commute.
In the four years since Hamilton began his alternative commute to work, he has also found a way to increase the benefits by becoming a part of The Clean Air Campaign Commuter Reward program. Logging in each morning helps him track his mileage and qualify to earn prizes, something that is open to anyone who chooses a clean commute like cycling, carpooling, teleworking or taking transit.
But the decision to begin cycling began more as a challenge to himself than because he was a health or environmental crusader.
"I just wanted to see if I could do it," he told Roswell Patch.
Hamilton's ultimate goal is to go completely car-free, though he's not quite there yet, he says. He encourages other commuters to try bicycling, believing that they too will become hooked on its benefits.
"The thing about dealing with traffic and weather is that it's a lot more daunting when you think about it than you actually do it," Hamilton said.
Here are his tips for beginning your own bike to work quest:
- Pretty much any bike will work, if it's road worthy - You don’t have to buy something fancy.
- Get acclimated - Most people will need to get their legs ready for the cardiovascular workout cycling provides.
- Choose your route - Do trial run on weekend, both Saturday and Sunday, to see how long it takes you to get there and the best ways to go.
- Practice situational awareness