A lot of people enjoy bike-riding for fun and health, but surprisingly, some of those same folks don’t even consider the prospect of replacing their daily drive with a bicycle. Bike commuting eliminates the need for high-priced gasoline, ensures daily exercise, is infinitely less stressful than dealing with traffic, and may even qualify for a tax deduction. To be sure, it’s probably a big step to take for most, but despite it’s perception as being reserved for the most hardcore of cyclists, bicycle commuting is probably a lot easier than you think, and you might actually have a good time doing it. Here are a few tips on how you can get started commuting with a bike.
Finding Your Way
One of the first things to on your to-do list should be planning your route, not only taking into account the time it will take to reach your destination, but safety considerations as well. Ideally, you”ll have access to bike lanes for all or most of your route, but if not, you’ll have to navigate around automobile traffic, which is all the more reason to plan your path out carefully ahead of time. A good place to start with finding nearby bicycle paths is by checking with Google Maps. Another great resource is MapMyRide.com where you can find bike routes in your area and communicate with other commuters in your community, who will be able to offer advice and answer questions you might have.
It’s definitely a good idea to go through a practice run of your chosen route, once it’s decided. Go when you have a day off so there’s no rush and you can address any potential issues or complications you might run into along the way.
Selecting a Bike for Commuting
While road bikes are designed to be fast and lightweight, mountain bikes for ruggedness, and cruisers for comfort, a bicycle used for commuting will ideally have combined features for navigating an urban environment. Some options that you’ll want to consider are wider tires with smoother street-style tread, fenders to prevent getting road spray on yourself and racks for carrying your personal items and supplies. Hybrid bikes are a good choice for this purpose, having a good balance between durability and speed. For more detailed information have a look at our commuter bikes page.
No matter what time of year, you’ll need to prepare for various weather and lighting conditions. Remember that the days grow shorter during the fall and winter months, so installing both a headlight and tail light is a smart and safe investment, and in many areas required by law. You’ll also need to prepare for inclement weather as needed. You may choose to avoid commuting on rainy or snowy days altogether, but it’s still important to keep rain gear handy for those times when the weather turns unexpectedly.
One of the main concerns that would-be commuters have is how to deal with perspiration and potential body odor associated with exercise. Here are a few tips to help you stay fresh and clean after your ride.
- When you reach your destination, use the restroom to clean off with baby wipes and afterwards use some talcum powder to help stay dry and fresh during the day. Then apply your deodorant, cologne/perfume/body spray, etc.
- Keep a cleaning kit at work that includes your deodorant, cologne or perfume, wipes, talcum powder, etc.
- If possible, take your commute at an easy pace, especially during the 10-15 minute cooling down period toward the end of your ride. This can greatly reduce the perspiring that occurs immediately after getting off the bike.
- Hang your cycling clothes on the back of a door or coat rack to keep dry and use some Febreeze to eliminate any lingering odors.
For more information on commuting-appropriate clothing, check out our commuter clothing page.
Hopefully these guidelines will encourage you to begin commuting by bicycle instead of an automobile, if not every day, at least sometimes. While bike commuting will not be everyone’s cup of tea, when considering the positive impact it can have on your health, pocket book and overall quality of life, there’s little doubt that it’s a least worth a try.
To find out more about bicycle commuting, check out this list of bike commuter websites.