Bike commuting is considered the ultimate in multitasking: environmentally friendly, economical, fantastic heart- pumping exercise, a chance to de-stress while enjoying the outdoors. What’s not to love? If you haven’t already discovered the joys and perks of bike commuting, here are some tips to get you started.
Tune-Up: Make sure your bike is running smoothly to ensure your commute is both safe and enjoyable. If you are not comfortable with bike mechanics yourself, consider taking your bike into a local bike shop for a tune-up. Relative to the price of public transit or driving, tune-ups are not expensive and are well worth it. Be sure to also routinely check your tire pressure and ensure your brakes are working well.
Be Prepared: Carry a public transit token or extra money should you need it. Bring along a water bottle if it is hot out and be sure to wear a helmet. Consider learning how to perform basic bicycle repairs, such as fixing a flat tire, and carry a repair kit.
Take the long route: Map the safest route to your destination. Look for a route that includes quieter side streets, parks and/or bike paths if possible. If the safest route adds a few km to your trip – take it! Enjoy the extra exercise and a quieter trip.
Learn the Rules: Practice biking with one hand so you can comfortably signal when turning or stopping. Look up local rules that specifically apply to cyclists and bike with respect towards pedestrians and cars.
Don’t assume cars see you: Always be on full alert and never assume a car sees you. Ride with caution!
Light up: Make sure your bike has at least one light in the front and back should you find yourself biking in the dark. If you plan to bike more frequently in the dark, consider adding additional lights to your bike and be sure to wear reflective clothing.
Bring a change of clothes (or 2!): If you are travelling longer distances, carry your work clothes in your bag so you don’t need to worry about getting grease or sweat on your good clothes. On hot summer days, pack a second shirt for the ride home – putting on a still-damp with sweat shirt from the morning ride is never pleasant! Consider keeping deodorant and other products at work to freshen up when you get in to the office.