Looking to start the new year on a roll?
Commuting to work on a bicycle can save you money on gas, improve your cardiovascular health, keep you out of traffic jams and make your lifestyle more eco-friendly. It can even make you more productive: In 2010, a Dutch think tank found that commuters who biked to work were less likely to call in sick.
So why doesn't everyone do it? Maybe it's because there are a few pitfalls that can be discouraging to the neophyte cyclist. The good news is they're easy to avoid with a few simple hacks.
If you are the forgetful type who can remember the last time you lost your keys, having to carry around a key to your bike lock may seem like another thing to keep track off. But starting in late January, you will be able to unlock your bike with your smartphone thanks to BitLock. Taking this concept one step further, Lock8 is equipped with GPS and sensors that send out alerts whenever a thief is attempting to steal your bike.
Worried about the potential dangers of riding a bike in city traffic? Next-generation bike helmets are taking inspiration from automobile airbags to make cycling safer. Hövding is a new European-designed helmet that you wear around your neck, almost like a life preserver. In the event of a collision, sensors detect the sudden change in motion and inflate the "helmet" in an instant. The air-filled shell disperses the force of impact more effectively than a plastic one, and because it stays concealed unless there is a crash, it won't impair your view while biking across town -- or ruin your look with "helmet hair."
For those living in major cities, owning a bicycle is not even a prerequisite for biking to work. In the last few years, smartphone-enabled bike-sharing programs akin to ZipCar have become available at an affordable monthly subscription fee. New York City has Citi Bike, Washington D.C. has Capital BikeShare, while San Francisco bicyclists rely on Bay Area Bike Share.