I wish the wind had been sweeping down the plain. Unfortunately, the wind was roaring up the plain and directly into my face Tuesday as I labored through a 10-mile commute on my bicycle. But I felt a sense of accomplishment upon arrival, and the workout provided me with an extra energy boost for the rest of the day. As one of my bosses pointed out, I saved only about a half-gallon of gas. But that would grow to a full gallon by the time I rode home, which could add up to some significant savings over the course of days and weeks. It's enough of a savings to boost bike sales, said Hal McKnight, who runs the Wheeler Dealer bike shop in northwest Oklahoma City. "Big-time. Definitely,” McKnight said. "Through last year, we're seeing a lot of people getting into bikes. Originally it's to get healthier, then because of gasoline prices.” This is Bike to Work Week, and Friday is the fourth annual Central Oklahoma Bike to Work Day. Oklahoma City, Edmond, Guthrie, Moore, Norman and Yukon will mark the event with special rides. For more information, go to acogok.org. McKnight, chairman of Oklahoma City's Trail Advisory Committee, said increases in the area's cycling community combined with growth of the city's network of bike trails will make the metro a more cycling-friendly place. My experience with local motorists has been nearly always positive. One driver even stopped Tuesday morning to let me claim a lane as I approached a stop light at Memorial Road and Sante Fe Avenue. McKnight said his experiences in sharing the road with cars and trucks have been similar. "We're Oklahoma City; not New York City,” he said. Sure, riding a bike can be inconvenient. I carried my work clothes in my backpack, and my commute was about four times longer than it takes by car. But it's an interesting and healthy experience. Meanwhile, my colleague Jim Stafford, who rode the bus to work on Tuesday, arrived at the office about an hour after I had showered, dressed and sat down at my desk. One tip for aspiring two-wheeled commuters: Don't ride into gale-force winds the day after donating blood.
Biking to work•Always wear a helmet. •Wear appropriate shoes and comfortable clothes in bright colors that enhance your visibility. •Before riding, inspect your bike for safety and mechanical concerns. •Plan and know your route by walking or driving it first. Select a route that uses less-traveled streets and avoid busy roads and intersections. •Obey all traffic laws — stop signs, traffic lights, and other posted signs, signal turns, lane changes and stops. •Continuously scan for traffic, look for road hazards, and ride in a predictable manner with the flow of traffic. •Ride with the flow of traffic as far to the right as practical unless passing or turning. •Be aware of turning automobiles, buses making frequent stops, passengers exiting parked vehicles, vehicles exiting driveways and pedestrians. •Carry drinking water, emergency maintenance tools and a mobile phone. Source: Association of Central Oklahoma Governments