So you want to get into daily bike commuting, but you’re not sure where to get started. Now that the weather has cooled off, now would be the perfect time to try it out! Biking to work or school each day is a fantastic way to save on gas money, stay in shape, and improve your overall wellbeing. I bet you can think of a million excuses to put off bike commuting, but the truth is starting something is the hard part; maintaining it is a lot easier. Once you get going you’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner!
We’ve put together this guide to help first-time commuters get off on the right track, and to hopefully squelch any hesitancy, doubt, and procrastination! You can do it!
Choosing the right bike:
Technically, you can commute with any type of bike as long as it’s been tuned up and in tip-top shape. You don’t want to be stuck on the side of the road with a maintenance issue. But if you’re in the market for a new bike, consider these options –
Folding bike – The obvious choice for a daily commuter would be a folding bike. Companies like Brompton and Tern build high quality, dependable bikes that are also compact enough to fit under your desk at work. Not having to worry about your locked bike getting stolen in the parking lot is definitely an advantage. Not to mention if the weather turns sour, a co-worker can give you and your bike a lift home quite easily.
Cargo bike – Known as the SUV of bikes, a cargo bike is a popular choice for the modern family. A lot of eco-conscious parents are now using cargo bikes to tote their kids to and from school, to their work, or to make their weekly trips to the grocery store. A good cargo choice is the Haul-A-Day, a bike hand-built by Bike Friday. (Hint: You can custom order one from us!)
Hybrid bike – Today there many different combination styles of bikes to suit individual needs. For example, Tern and Bike Friday both make a folding cargo bike. Tern just came out with a new folding e-bike. Kiffy is a brand that makes a folding cargo tricycle. Once you figure out your personal bike requirements, you can find the perfect hybrid dual-purpose bike for you!
Wear the right clothing:
It’s a little tough to know what kind of clothing to wear on your daily ride. Although you can go for the full lycra cycling look, often a comfortable set of active gear is enough. Think of an outfit you would wear to the gym to work out in. And don’t forget to bring a change of clothes for the office.
Another necessity is a waterproof jacket, because you NEVER KNOW when the weather is going to turn on you. Stashing a lightweight waterproof windbreaker in your bag is a must, just like some people who always stash an umbrella in their cars.
Other necessities include a helmet, a water bottle, a bike lock (if your bike doesn’t fold) and a bike bag or backpack to carry your jacket and change of clothes.
It’s extremely important to stay visible when you’re riding your bike. Especially because you’ll most likely be riding alongside cars during your commute, you want the drivers to be able to see you at all times.
When purchasing your commuting gear, consider reflectivity whenever you can. There’s a wide variety of reflective jackets and clothing. Also a lot of helmets, tires, handlebar bags, and trunk bags incorporate reflective strips onto their designs for added safety. Here’s a handy guide on the best reflective bike gear.
If you’re leaving work at dusk or at night, it’s a good idea to have a good lighting system for your bike besides just reflectors. There are a lot of options for battery or USB rechargeable front and rear lights that will help you to stay visible.
Set yourself up for success! Steer clear of any excuses and procrastination by planning ahead for your commute. Map out the safest, most efficient route to your work or school utilizing bike lanes and paths whenever possible. And if there’s time, practice riding the course on the weekend so you’ll feel more comfortable.
Pack your bag and set your clothes out the night before to save yourself time in the morning. Be sure to pack your outfit for work, shoes, your rain jacket, and a few hygiene items to freshen up at the office. Allow yourself extra time to get there, more than what your route says, just incase you hit a snag or some traffic.
Remember to be positive, and always alert when you’re riding to and from work. Sit up tall on your bike and make yourself aware to the drivers around you. Don’t become unnerved if a car honks at you or gets angry, it happens to everyone!
Even if you are a beginner to the bike commuting life or you don’t quite know what you’re doing yet, be sure to make every move with a purpose. While following the road traffic rules, commit without hesitation to each turn, merge, and bump in the road. Just like with any other skill we learn in life, we always improve with practice. Get out there, you got this! Get a bit more in depth on the subject of the sports and fitness mindset.