10 Tips for Your First Bike Commute

10 Tips for Your First Bike Commute

Have you ever spotted a cyclist commuting to work during your drive and felt admiration for them? Maybe the thought of biking to the office has crossed your mind, considering the benefits of saving money on gas and helping the environment, in addition to staying fit and burning extra calories.

Despite the obvious benefits of cycling to work, many people find it challenging to start. However, there’s no better time to start than now. Even if you only commute a few times, it’s still better than not doing it at all. Here are 13 tips to help you get started:

  1. Start with a distance you can achieve.

If your workplace is only a few miles away, it might be possible to commute both ways on your first day. However, if the distance is longer, and the commute will take 45 to 60 minutes or more, consider getting a ride from a co-worker to the office and then cycling back home. The distance you choose should be manageable for you, so don’t worry about what others are doing.

  1. Begin with a frequency you can manage.

It’s great to have ambitious plans to commute to work every day, but is it feasible immediately? Begin by setting a goal to commute one to three times per week, and once you can consistently achieve success, gradually add more commuting segments or days.

  1. Don’t forget to wear a helmet.

In the unlikely event of an accident, protecting your head and all those great ideas should be a top priority. If you’re worried about your hair after cycling to work, you can always bring a brush or comb to fix it up when you arrive.

  1. Wear visible clothing.
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If you’re cycling in the early morning or late evening, it’s important to wear reflective gear and have a flashing tail light on your bike. For daytime commutes, choose bright colors that are easily visible to motorists.

  1. Don’t stress about special clothing and gear.

Depending on the length of your commute, you may be able to wear your regular work clothes while cycling. Some commutes may feel more like a workout, while others can be more casual.

During my visit to Ferrara, Italy, I observed women riding bikes to work in business suits with a briefcase strapped to the luggage rack. They wore low pumps and used platform pedals. Bike commuting seemed to be an everyday occurrence.

  1. Consider wearing cycling shorts.

For commutes longer than 20 or 30 minutes, cycling shorts can offer increased comfort. They eliminate the seams that intersect at the point where you sit on the bike seat, which can create pressure and friction that become uncomfortable during longer rides. Wearing cycling shorts without underwear can significantly improve your comfort.

  1. Test your commute on the weekend.

If you’re worried about how long your commute will take, try a practice run on the weekend. Ride at an easy pace and take note of the time, so you can adjust your schedule accordingly.

  1. Seek out routes with minimal traffic.

Although it might make your commute longer, finding roads with less traffic could be worth the extra time. Check for bike paths in the area to see if they would be a good option.

  1. Learn how to change a flat tire.
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If you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to learn how to change a flat tire.

  1. Carry a cell phone and call for assistance if necessary.

If you have a significant mechanical issue or are running short on time, don’t hesitate to call for help. Bring your cell phone and have a co-worker’s number on hand, as they may be willing to offer you a ride. Chances are, you’ll be on the road before most people, so help should be available if needed.

Need to Know:

What’s Cool:

– Roll up one pant cuff (specifically the right one)

– Use racks or panniers to carry your commuting essentials

– Try bike commuting for at least a portion of your trip to work, such as riding to a public transportation hub

– Find a friend to ride with

– Bike commuting in less-than-perfect weather conditions

What’s Not:

– Displaying inside-out bike shorts on your cubicle wall

– Cycling on sidewalks

– Listening to music instead of being alert to potential dangers around you

– Swerving in and out of stationary or slowly moving traffic

– Crossing medians and cycling against traffic

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