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Commuter cycling: Getting exercise on the way to work

Cycling is an excellent way to get exercise into your busy workday. You work several miles from home in New Haven, but you'll save on gas and don't necessarily need to have a vehicle at home. As an avid cyclist, you know that it can be dangerous to be on the roads. Sometimes drivers don't see you, because they admittedly believe you should only ever be in a bike lane. Still, you have a right to be in the main lanes and to pass through the lane without a door opening in your path.

Fortunately, Connecticut is becoming a cyclist's destination. In 2006, a woman pushed the Connecticut Department of Transportation to install bike racks on its buses in the Hartford area, much like New Haven and Stamford already had. They obliged, and she now bikes regularly part of the way to work.

As of 2015, she was still not riding with much company. The U.S. Census Bureau has shown data that indicated only .3 percent of Connecticut commuters bike regularly. The national average is .6 percent, while Hartford is at .94 percent and New Haven is at 2.7 percent.

One solution to getting more people to ride could be what the woman above calls, "multi-modalism." This technique is where a person uses multiple forms of transportation to get to work. For instance, she takes the bus part of the way to work and home, but she also bikes a significant portion of the way. This not only helps new cyclists learn their routes and build up stamina, but also gives people choices if the weather is inclement or if there is a reason cycling isn't safe that day.

Sometimes, making the streets safer for cyclists is seen as a kind of recreational job. The truth is that cycling can be a legitimate form of transportation to work, just like taking a bus, driving a car or using a taxi. Many more people can travel at one time on bicycles or by walking than can be transported in a bus or car, too, which could help cities that struggle with congestion.

The goal of any cycling community needs to be education. As more people begin to ride, drivers need to be aware of cyclists and rules of the road where they are. Biking doesn't stop in the winter, and cyclists shouldn't feel they need to ride on sidewalks, which is not legal, just to stay safe. They have a right to be on the roads, just like any other vehicle in Connecticut.

For those who are injured because of dangerous or negligent drivers, there are laws protecting them. They can seek out compensation and get the treatment they need.

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