Even after just a few attempts with biking to work I realized there were better ways of doing it. All in all my first attempt at commuting by bike was a roaring success. Everything went surprisingly smooth but there were things I could do better.
This post is assuming you already have a bike that fits you. If you remember from Michael’s Guest Post series about cycling, your best bet for a bike is a road bike or hybrid. Remember: lighter is better!
Remember some basics too: wear reflective clothing, have safety lights on your bike, wear a helmet and use your hand signals!
Commuting to work by bike has so many benefits. You get your workout in without having to go to the gym, or spend hours after work. It fills up your evenings. It’s better for the environment. You don’t have to sit in traffic and seethe with road rage. You can enjoy nature, see new things, and explore parts of your city you’d normally not see. The list goes on and on!
Here is a list I’ve compiled of advice and tips (and things I’d do differently):
1. Do a practice run on the route you will take to work ahead of time. I didn’t do this but it worked out okay for me. I did, however, scout out the best route to get out of downtown Portland.
2. If you can’t test out the route ahead of time, try using Google Maps directions for cycling. That’s what I did since I couldn’t do the route ahead of time. I entered my starting point and destination and it said it would take me 39 minutes on the bike. It took me way less than that, but at least I had an estimate.
3. Bring a change of clothes for once you get to work. You’ll most likely be sweaty. If you have access to showers at work (I do), take one. If not, clean up in the bathroom as much as you can. Keep some sort of hygiene kit at your office (deodorant, soap, baby wipes, perfume etc).
4. Hang up your sweaty clothes to dry out before you have to ride home! I made that mistake on my first ride. I didn’t even think about it and my clothes were a tad…damp…when I changed to drive home. Yuck. I was sure to remedy that on my second attempt!
5. Make sure you have a safe place to lock up/store your bike while at work. Make it very difficult for thieves to steal your stuff! I am lucky because there’s a locked storage space at my office where I can put my bike. I could also fit my bike in my cubicle if I needed to.
6. Layer for winter/cold weather cycling. When I rode in last week, it was about 40 degrees in the morning. I wore a cycling t-shirt, a cycling jacket and another jacket over that. In the afternoon it was 70 degrees so I just wore my bike shorts and t-shirt (no jackets).
7. If you can plan ahead, bring a change of clothes (including shoes) to your office the day before. It’s less you have to pack in a backpack or saddle bag.
8. Have a spare tube and mini pump just in case. I don’t have that on my bike, but Michael does so when we ride together I’m okay. I need to take care of that if I’m going to be commuting a lot, though.
9. Wear brightly colored clothes for safety. If you plan on doing any night riding, make sure you have a light (it’s required by law in Oregon).
10. Roll your clothes, don’t stuff them in your bag. It will take up less space and won’t wrinkle as much.
11. Don’t forget the water! I did the first time…the second time I remembered!
12. Pace yourself. Give yourself enough time so you aren’t rushed and careless on the bike. And be respectful of all the other bikers/pedestrians sharing the road.
13. ALWAYS assume cars don’t see you and be safe! Be preemptive and overly cautious when it comes to things like “right of way.” Scan the road ahead of you for potential dangers.
14. Make your backpack as light as possible. The night before I planned on riding in, I emptied my backpack and the only thing I added was: my lunch, my wallet (no purse), change of clothes, keys.
QUESTION: If you are a bike commuter, what tips do you have to share?