How to get started bike commuting

In lieu of #bike2workweek, we’re taking a look at some ways you can prepare to become a full-fledged bike commuter.

You’ve heard the argument that biking to work is good for your fitness, your productivity, and the environment, but ditching your car for a two-wheeled model can be a hassle. But to simplify the switch, we’ve come up with some tips to help you get started.

Distance

First, start with an achievable distance. If you only live a few miles from work it is possible you can commute both ways on the first day. If you live some distance from work, consider hitching a ride with a friend to work and riding home. Make the distance doable; don’t worry about what everyone else is doing.

Frequency

Along the same vein, start with a frequency that is achievable as well. Even though you may be keen on becoming a super commuter and riding to work every day, is that goal attainable immediately? Try riding to work 1-3 times per week and increasing your frequency as you continue to succeed at your first goal.

Protection and Clothing

Wear a helmet. It’s always a good idea and honestly, you’ll look pretty uncool if you choose to skip the brain bucket. Also, be sure to wear clothing that makes you highly visible to motorists. Bright colors, reflective material, and the like help ensure motorists are aware that they’re sharing the road with you. As you become a more regular commuter, investing in a good light will help you remain visible day or night.

Choose your Route

Plan ahead. Find yourself a good route with minimal traffic. Try a dry-run of your route on a weekend to be sure you have an accurate time estimate and a solid understanding of the amount of effort required.

Maintenance

 

If you don’t already know how – learn how to change a flat and other basic bike maintenance. You’ll be thankful when you can get yourself back on the road after a small mechanical. It’s always a good idea to take a cell phone with you just in case you have a larger mechanical issue you can’t fix on the side of the road.

Share the Road

Be sure to brush up on your hand signals and rules of the road. Watch out for car doors opening and other hazards as well – sometimes the morning commute can be a hectic time.

Join the National Bike Challenge

If you do start commuting to work, consider logging your miles with the National Bike Challenge. This nation-wide event is taking place from May to September. Track your miles using Strava and then join your local team to start contributing to your community’s ranking. Get online at nationalbikechallenge.org and it’ll walk you through the steps.