Fifteen Tips for Biking to Work
May is National Bike Month in the United States, with Bike to Work Week taking place from May 13–19. It’s a great reminder of the fun—and benefits—you can experience by taking your two-wheeler for a spin! Biking is a great way to fit in your exercise for the day, while helping reduce the harmful emissions cars release into our environment. You can also save on the cost of gas while improving your physical fitness.
If you’re on the fence about taking your morning commute by bike, check out these tips to get started and build your confidence:
1. Plan your route. Did you know Google Maps provides an estimate of how long a route takes by bike? This is a great place to start planning your journey. Choose bike lanes or side roads, if you can. You can even practice your route on the weekend to get a feel for how long it will take you.
2. Incorporate bike paths and public transit. Many communities offer rails-to-trails you can use as connectors between roads. You’ll avoid stop lights and traffic. If you want to bypass streets with heavier traffic, check out the subway or bus line for a portion of your route. Just be sure you can bring your bike onboard with you—look for this information online by visiting the website of your local public transit system.
3. Know how to use your gears. This is especially important if your route includes any sort of elevation. Learn how to adjust the gears on your bike to keep your ride comfortable.
4. Bring your work clothes beforehand. Leave a bag at your desk with a spare pair of clothes, toiletries, bottled water and a snack. This way, you won’t need to carry it all on your bike and you’ll have it ready when you arrive at work.
5. Dress in layers. You’ll probably heat up while you ride, so plan to dress in layers you can easily remove.
6. Check for showers. Your office may offer shower facilities, or you may be a member of a gym that’s nearby. If not, keep your layers light to minimize sweat, and be prepared with toiletries to clean up before you start your work day.
7. Scope out bike storage. Find out where bike racks are located around your building. If you don’t have one, see if you can bring your bike inside with you to store at your desk or in a spare conference room.
8. Lock up. If you’ll be storing your bike on a rack for the day, bring a lock to keep it safe.
9. Know your hand signals. It’s important to use hand signals to alert your intentions to other drivers. For more information about the right way to signal, click here. For other traffic safety rules when biking, click here.
10. Wear a helmet. To stay safe in case of a fall, you should wear a bike helmet. You can get one at most sporting goods stores, or online. To learn more about finding the right helmet for you, click here.
11. Form a “bike pool.” Not keen on biking alone? Team up with co-workers who live nearby and bike together on your way into the office.
12. Hydrate. Drink some water about 20 minutes before your ride to help counteract fluid lost through sweat during your ride.
13. Get your bike tuned up. Especially if this is your first ride of the season. You’ll need to service your tire pressure, brakes and gears. Check with your local bike shop, who may offer specials for National Bike Month. Then you’ll have your bike ready to ride all summer!
14. Give yourself plenty of time. You can never predict with 100 percent accuracy what the traffic will be like the day of your biking commute. Build in extra time for your ride so you’re not late for work.
15. Have fun! The best part of biking is having fun! It’s much different than riding in a car—you’ll be more in tune with the environment around you, and the capabilities of your own body.
Get ready to ride!
To learn more about Bike to Work Week, visit the League of American Bicyclists online. And before you begin any sort of new exercise routine, always check with your doctor.
*This article is for informational purposes only, and is not meant as medical advice.