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Get fit and go green during 'Bike to Work Week'

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While Florida cities are not known to be cycling meccas like Portland, OR and Seattle, WA, there are more than 50,000 people, statewide, who bike to work on a regular basis. Currently about 0.5 percent of commuters in Bay County, FL bike to work as their primary means of transportation. The rate is a bit higher, at 0.7 percent, in Panama City itself, according to data from the Census Bureau.

Those proportions are likely to grow during National Bike to Work Week (May 14-18), particularly on Bike to Work Day (May 18). The event celebrates the "unique power of the bicycle" as a means of transportation. For example, by relying on person-power instead of petroleum, cycling saves money and fuel.

In addition to benefitting the environment, biking to work is an excellent way to boost overall fitness. According to data from Livestrong, cycling burns approximately 30-60 calories per mile, depending on the speed and weight of the cyclist. A 10 mile commute would burn 300-600 calories. Making that 10 mile commute one day per week would burn 15,000-30,000 calories in a year - the equivalent of 4-8 pounds of body weight.

If you are not a regular bike commuter and would like to participate in Bike to Work Week, you may want a refresher on cycling rules and safety suggestions. Fortunately there are several resources available.

The State of Florida offers a complete list of bicycle safety laws on their website. The Florida Bicycle Association provides a more user-friendly summary of those laws. Bicyclesafe.com offers practical tips for avoiding a collision with another vehicle.

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