These gadgets, some hardware and some software, help to break down the psychological barriers that may make some people averse to bicycling as a means of travel. Small upgrades can help you switch from fossil fuel guzzling motor vehicles to human powered transportation, making you healthier all the while.
Biking can be a great way to exercise while traveling around town for work, school, or errands. The Mayo Clinic encourages bicycling as an aerobic workout that can reduce your risk of several diseases including type-2 diabetes and heart disease. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, every 10 miles you put on your bike that you otherwise would have traveled by car reduces your carbon footprint by approximately 9.1 pounds of CO2.
If you want your health and environmental benefits to really add up, start riding more! Luckily, there are a plethora of gadgets to help you do just that.
1. Odometer - Called bike computers, these little computers have about a one-inch screen that mounts to your handlebars. Most models track your speed and miles traveled, have a trip meter, and more. Prices range from between $15-50, depending on the model and if it has GPS capabilities. If the thought of calibrating it yourself doesn't strike your fancy, Mello Velo Bicycle Shop on Westcott St. carries them, and they won't charge an installation fee. Mello Velo Cafe is just a step through a door from the bike workshop area, so you can sip a macchiato while you let the mechanics turn your bike into a robot.
2. Your Smartphone - There are two U.S. based bicycling apps and both of them have free versions. As their names imply, "MapMyRide GPS Cycling" and "Strava Cycling GPS Riding" track your progress with the GPS feature in your phone. These apps give your bike riding a whole new dimension by bringing friendly competition and camaraderie to what is usually a solo endeavor. The data from your trips is published into a map route, which you can post to social media sites if you want to brag even more.
3. Bicycle cargo rack - Adding cargo capacity to your bike can expand the number of trips you can make with it. After all, how many errands do you run with the car that are only a few miles from home with just yourself and less than 20 pounds of stuff? USA Today estimates that half of all motor vehicle trips are for shopping or errands. Adding the capacity to carry a cubic foot or more of cargo can increase the amount of tasks you can accomplish by bicycle. There are many types of bicycle cargo rack options. They range in size and price from $15 foot-long alligator clamps that mount over your back wheel to $100 mini trailers that you tow behind you. Unless you plan to do some major hauling, a mini trailer may not be for you. However, most cyclists can benefit greatly from milk-crate-sized rack storage.
There are so many bicycle doo-dads flooding the market to choose from. Instead of encumbering yourself with all sorts of gadgets, try to find the ones that actually help you use your bicycle more -- whether you need the social support of an online bicycling community through an app or the ability to haul your grocery shopping home with pure pedal power.