Taking your bike to work? Consider these steps
A few simple steps can get you riding in no time.
Now that the warm weather is here to stay in most places around the United States, it's a great time to consider biking to work. If you’re considering commuting by bike, look into participating in your community’s bike-to-work activities this month and consider this advice to help make your two-wheeled commute a success.
Check your equipment
If you’re pulling a bike out of storage and expect to put some major miles on it, you’ll need to make sure it’s in good shape, says Ben Folsom, a senior policy analyst with Citizen Immigration Services. “Have your bike inspected for safety at your nearest neighborhood bike shop,” says Folsom, who has been commuting by bike for the past four years.
“Are the tires inflated? Do you have a spare tube? Are the brakes in working order?” Also, get a good cable lock or U-lock to keep your bike secure while you’re on the job, and consider lights if you’re biking at night, Folsom recommends.
Get a helmet
Not only do you need an up-to-date bike helmet, it needs to fit correctly. “The bike shop can help, but consider the rule of two fingers,” Folsom says. “Around the ears, no more than two in the chin strap and two between your eyebrows and the lid of the helmet. It should sit flat.”
Think of your helmet like a seat belt, says Neil Gussman, who bikes 9 miles from his train to work every day. “If you are hurt in a car accident and were not wearing a seatbelt, you are wrong. Period. If you fall from a bicycle, your head will hit the ground. Wear the helmet or let what would have been an inconsequential spill ruin your life.”
Wear bike-friendly clothes
If you have a long commute, or are able to shower at work, bring your business clothes in a bag. Otherwise, you can dress in clothes that translate to work as well. “I try to wear black pants that won't look dirty if I get grease from the bike chain on them,” says Debra Caruso Marrone of DJC Communications. “Your clothing has to be comfortable, not stiff, so you can move properly.”
Give your route a trial run
Folsom recommends taking a trial run to work on a Saturday or Sunday to scope out the best way to get there when you’re not pressed for time. Map out bike paths, streets with bike lanes and preferred routes so you don’t get discouraged when you’re trying to get to work during rush hour.
Create a clean-up plan
“You are going to sweat if you ride,” Gussman says. “Be prepared to deal with it when you arrive at work. Some people use wipes, some have access to a shower, but you will have to figure out how to deal with sweat or you won't ride.”
Embrace the benefits
Biking to work can seem like a great idea on a cool spring day, but your enthusiasm might drop on a hot or rainy afternoon. Stick with it; the benefits are worth it, say people who bike regularly to work.
“I bike to work almost everyday for many reasons,” says Reed Daw, who bikes to work at Ice.com in Austin, Texas. “Biking to work is like drinking your morning cup of coffee. It gives me energy to start the day, provides a solid morning workout, is usually faster than driving anyways (traffic is horrible in Austin) and saves a lot of gas. I don't have to worry about finding parking or paying for it and riding my bike in the morning sets myself up for a productive day of work.”
Marrone agrees. “It's been a great experience and I feel that I am getting a workout while I commute, a time saver,” she says. “Plus, I'm saving gas and the the environment (even though it's only a 15 minute bike ride). It's also easy to stop for errands on the way home in the evening.”