So you’ve decided to start riding your bike to work. Fantastic! Bicycle commuting is on the rise, and its benefits are numerous: great exercise, no air pollution, traffic congestion is reduced, no noise pollution, and so on. But you might be a little nervous about getting started. After all, this isn’t a weekend bike ride where you can get all sweaty and not worry about how you look. You want to get to work looking and feeling great! So before you ride, check out our advice on commuter cycling.
You might think that you don’t need to consider your route when planning to bike to work. After all, you’ve been driving or taking public transportation until now, so you know the path to take, right? Wrong! The route you bike should take into account things that drivers don’t have to think about such as the presence of bike lanes, the amount of vehicle traffic on the road, whether there is a route with less hills, and so on. GoogleMaps is a great resource for directions by various transportation modes. While their Bike Directions are still in beta, they are reliable. If you have a smart phone, you can even turn on the navigation function and ride your new route confident that you won’t take a wrong turn.
Bike commuting requires some basic bike accessories to keep you visible and safe. All new bicycles come with built in reflectors for the front, rear, and on the actual tires, but additional bike lights are never a bad idea. Eco-friendly light options include solar powered bike lights and motion-powered bike lights. Bike bells are another necessity – alert pedestrians and other cyclists that you’re approaching and avoid collisions! Finally, stay dry and invest in a good pair of fenders. Made to fit over the tire, they shield your legs and back from water carried up by treaded tires. There’s nothing worse than having a huge wet spot on your back after a ride, so save yourself the trouble and guard from splashes.
There are a huge variety of bags designed for bicycle commuting. Messenger bags are worn over the shoulder and across the body, and help distribute weight. You could also look into panniers, which attach to front or rear bike racks, and allow you to take the weight off your back and put it on your bike. Some eco-friendly options for bike bags and panniers include: Alchemy Goods which upcycles old bike tubes into stylish messenger bags; Ecologic Designs, which performs reclamation manufacturing and makes their bags out of recycled materials; and Po Campo which offers stylish vegan bags that look good on and off the bike. If you want to get really involved, you could even make your own pannier!
Unlike competitive cycling, bicycle commuting can be done wearing your ordinary work clothes. But some bike-specific clothing can come in handy, especially if you’re planning to ride through cold or inclement weather. For chilly spring and fall mornings, try a wool bike jersey, like Rapha’s short sleeve women’s merino jersey. For rainy days, try out Cleverhood’s Electric Houndstooth bike capes. When it gets really cold out, wool is the way to go – it insulates you while wicking away sweat, so unlike cotton, you won’t get cold and clammy. The Nature vs Future Swerve Coat is made from wool and recycled materials, goes below the hip to block out drafts, and features a high collar that can be worn up or down.
The most important thing while commuter cycling is to stay safe. Be sure to get familiar with your state’s bike laws, wear reflective clothing if you’re biking in the dark, and always wear a helmet!