Whether you’re heading to the office, out running errands, or cruising over to the local coffee shop, going by bike instead of car has its benefits – outdoor exercise, a mental boost, fuel savings and a lower carbon footprint to name just a few. But getting started can feel a little daunting. Maybe you’re a total rookie, or maybe you’ve commuted by bike before but just never quite found your flow. Well, we’re here to give you a few tried-and-true pointers to ensure your future commutes have higher levels of success and satisfaction.
Plan your route in advance
You’ve probably driven your route to work countless times, but have you thought about the best way to get there by bike? Google Maps is great at navigating via bike-friendly routes, but it usually shows you the fastest or shortest route option, neglecting ways with better bike lanes or less vehicle traffic. We recommend scouting your route beforehand and seeing if you can optimize it with more bike-friendly roads, bike paths, or even choosing a way with less vehicle traffic. It might be worth the extra 5-10 minutes on the bike to stop & go traffic!
Pro Tip: I almost always create my own route when commuting by bike. I’ve learned which stop lights or intersections I prefer to avoid (even if Google tells me to go that way) or which side streets are better to ride on than the higher-trafficked roads with bike lanes. If you’re uncomfortable with the amount of traffic or getting through a busy intersection, your commute is going to be stressful.
One of the best ways to protect yourself as a cyclist on the road is by making yourself seen to drivers. Some cyclists opt for bright colors and reflective clothing. At a minimum, invest in a good headlight and tail light, especially if you’ll be riding outside of daylight hours. A bright tail light can work wonders, even during the day! If you’re riding at night, reflective clothing can be a huge bonus.
Pro tip: I use a tail light with a very bright, irregular blinking pattern, even during the day. I chose this to not get lost in the sea of blinking turn signals – get a light that drivers WILL notice!
Dress properly and be prepared for weather conditions
If your commute is short and it’s fair weather, you may be able to ride in the same clothes you’ll wear in the office (if you have a casual dress code), but if you think you may get sweaty or want to wear a chamois, you’ll need to bring a change of clothes. Don’t be that guy or gal who forgets to pack an extra outfit and ends up wearing a cycling kit all day.
Additionally, weather can be unpredictable. I always keep a lightweight rain jacket in the bottom of my bag, just in case. If there’s a chance for cooler weather, pack an extra layer, gloves or some arm warmers to keep the chill away.
Pro Tip: Personally, I almost always ride with cycling gloves to help minimize the chance of road rash on my palms, should I end up on the ground. Plus I find it more comfortable on my hands than riding without!
Have a proper carrying system
There’s nothing more annoying than having a bag flopping around while you try to pedal. Pick a bag that will remain secure, whether that’s a wearable bag made for bike commuting, a backpack or something like a pannier. Keep your phone, keys and wallet close by and accessible on-the-go with our Route Werks Handlebar Bag.
Pro tip: My backpack has a handy rain cover that unzips from an inconspicuous pocket. I am always SO glad to have it when some unexpected precipitation passes through!
Wear a helmet
According to the National Institute of Health, wearing a helmet while cycling can decrease the risk of head and brain injury by between 65-88%, whether or not a motor vehicle is involved in a crash. Protect yourself – wear a helmet! If you’re prone to helmet hair (like me), have a plan to quickly fix it at the office…or just roll with it.
Bring a spare tube (and know how to use it!)
You should always have a spare tube, levers, and CO2 (or a pump) when riding. Flats suck, but they’re even less fun when you don’t have the proper tools to change it, or if you don’t know how to! Grab a spare kit and study up on how to change a tube so you don’t waste precious time on the go.
Pro Tip: I learned from a YouTube video and practiced by putting new tubes in both of my tires one evening. The first one was a little tricky, so I was glad to be in a setting where I didn’t feel rushed.
Bring a Bike Lock
Just the basics – get a lock that will keep your bike from getting stolen. There are plenty of good products on the market, but we love the folding locks and U lock options by Kryptonite.
Happy Riding! 🚲