You’ve finally decided that it’s time to park your car and start bike commuting. And why not? Bike commuting has so many benefits like helping the environment, saving on gas money, staying out of traffic, and exercising. Perhaps you’re quite comfortable on a bike; maybe you’ve only ridden around your neighbourhood and never into the city during rush hour.
It may be overwhelming at first, but before you know it, you’ll be an expert bike commuter with many kilometres of biking under your belt. Even if you only do it for a short period of time, like during the summer, you’ll be happy you did it. Whatever your experience level, we have nine bike commuting tips to start you off right.
Whether you haven’t been on a bike in years, or you bike ride to some of your favourite neighbourhood spots, it’s always a smart move to practice riding in the city before starting off on your first morning to work. This is also a good time to brush up on all the motions you’ll be doing like checking over your shoulder and using your hands to signal.
2. Tune Up Your Bike
You don’t want your bike breaking down on your first morning commuting. To ensure this doesn’t happen to you, make sure your bike is in good shape. Check the brakes, make sure the tires are full of air, adjust the bike to the proper height, and give it a good cleaning. You can also bring it to a bike repair shop if you would rather have the experts give it a tune-up for you.
3. Plan Your Route
Planning ahead is one of the best bike commuting tips possible. Don’t get on your bike that first morning and not have a pre-planned route. Having a route already planned out will make the journey that much easier and less stressful. Check out a map of bike lanes so you know where all the bike lanes are in your city. Try to stick to bike lanes as much as possible since they’re the safest. It’s also a good idea to have a back-up plan in case there’s a problem with your route.
4. Follow Road Rules
Road rules apply to cyclists as much as they do to cars. Bike in the direction of traffic (not in the opposite direction!), stop at all stop signs and stop lights, and watch out for pedestrians. This will keep you safe while on the road with other cyclists, cars, and pedestrians, and ensure you don’t get a ticket for not obeying the road rules.
5. Stay Hydrated
Biking is good exercise and with any exercise you want to make sure you always stay hydrated. Have a water bottle handy that you can always access. Throughout your workday, make sure to drink enough water and fill up your water bottle for the trip home. Especially in the summertime, it can be easy to get dehydrated from biking.
6. Purchase Proper Gear
If you plan to go cycling, one of the best bike commuting tips is to prepare all the gear that goes with it. This includes a well-adjusted helmet, cycling shorts, and a proper water bottle. If you’ll be biking when its dark, purchase some reflective gear to ensure you stand out to other motorists on the road.
7. Do a Dry Run
Now its time to pretend the big day is here and you’re heading out to work on your first-morning bike commuting. Even though you’ll be doing this on the weekend and there will be no rush hour traffic, it’s still a good way to gauge how long the trip will take and to let you get a feel for the route. This way you can make any changes to the time you were planning on leaving or make some small tweaks to your route.
8. Learn How to Change a Flat Tire
Bikes get flat tires too. Prepare yourself for this by learning how to change a flat on your bike. You don’t want to end up stranded with a flat and being really late to work when it’s a simple fix that you can learn to do yourself.
9. Plan for Cleanup Time Before Work
You’re sure to be sweaty after bike commuting. If you’re lucky and your workplace has a shower, now is the time to take advantage of that perk to freshen up before you start your workday. If your workplace doesn’t have a shower, you can bring a washcloth and some soap and do a quick freshen up before heading to your office. Your coworkers will thank you for it (especially in the summertime!).
Congratulations on your decision to take up bike commuting! These nine bike commuting tips will help get you started on your journey and set you up for success. Be careful out there, and most importantly, have fun!