Let’s be honest. We all know active transportation is a good way to reduce the number of cars on the road, get healthier and save money, but the thought of walking, biking or accessing transit in the Tucson summer is not exactly appealing. Not only are temperatures well over 100 degrees, but the unpredictable nature of the monsoon can provide a big challenge when much of your commute is outside.
Now that fall is upon us, it could be the right time for you to consider adding active transportation to part of your commuting strategy.
October in Tucson may not be “cool” to some folks, but temperatures are now under 100 and by Halloween the weather will be downright pleasant.
According to the National Weather Service, the average high temperature in Tucson in October is 87 degrees and drops to 75 degrees by November, making cycling, walking or waiting for the bus far more manageable than in the summer months.
For those who must commute early in the morning or after the sun sets, it may be time to take some weather precautions. Full winter gear is rarely needed in our region, but ems.com, the online blog for outdoor retailer Eastern Mountain Sports, suggests taking precautions for cooler temperatures but not overdoing it.
“The temperature is 40°F and your first thought as you head out is to bundle up. Don’t do it,” said ems.com. “After 10 minutes of hard riding, your body will start generating heat like a blast furnace.”
Consider wearing a light jacket or sweatshirt instead, and even swap your shorts for sweatpants.
“The rule of thumb is to keep the knees covered at 50°F or lower,” the website added.
The lack of precipitation from the monsoons also makes fall a good time to start. Our monsoon officially concluded on Sept. 30, meaning those unpredictable late afternoon showers won’t rear their heads again until June according to the National Weather Service.
With school back in session, more kids are part of the traffic mix. If you live or work near a school, now might be the time to reroute your commute or keep the car parked. Between kids walking and biking to school, school buses making their rounds, teen drivers going to high school or the influx of traffic around the University of Arizona, active transportation may make a lot of sense right now.
“Whenever possible, avoid driving through school zones before school begins or right after it finishes, because there will be much more traffic than usual,” notes drivingschoollv.com.
Instead of leaving a little earlier or a little later to avoid the rush, just avoid the car altogether.
The holidays are looming
Halloween will be here before we know it and that candy-laden celebration kicks off the high-calorie holiday season. This year, instead of waiting for your New Year’s resolutions, get out in front of your health goals by adding active transportation. Doing so now can help you lose weight and keep it off when you start dipping into those holiday goodies.
According to fitactiveliving.com, a half hour of cycling can burn between 260 to 372 calories. Even burning 500 calories a day can help someone lose one pound a week.
The holidays are also a time of high stress, but active transportation is shown to have benefits in reducing stress. Not only does physical activity help reduce stress and improve mental well-being, but just avoiding the stress of being behind the wheel in traffic can bring added peace of mind.
“Exercise like walking and biking lowers the levels of your body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, relieving tension,” writes Karen Hallisey for UCLA’s on-campus transportation newsletter. “Walking and biking release those feel-good hormones known as endorphins. These hormones stimulate relaxation and happiness.”
Learn more about active transportation and incorporating it into your daily commute.