Commuting by bicycle not only makes you look cool, it also provides many benefits. When you commute by bicycle, you stay fit. Save money. Avoid nasty traffic jams. And enjoy your commute all while being a pollution fighting super hero.
Just like you, we love being on two wheels. That’s why we put together this cheat sheet, so you too can become an urban, bike commuting super star!
What are the benefits of commuting by bicycle?
You get to be a pollution fighting super hero
Unlike automobiles, bicycles don’t produce any toxic substances that pollute the ground, air and water. Cars burn fossil fuels that create CO2 that contributes to global warming. A bicycle on the other hand works by old fashioned pedal power. Which contributes to….
Bicycles keep you fit
When you own a bicycle, there’s no need for you to join a gym. Bike commuting will help you build legs and buns of steel by allowing you to get a great workout while going about your daily schedule. You’ll eliminate stress, and stay in better shape, which will decrease your chances of getting sick. And talking about stress…
You’ll have less stress because of avoiding traffic jams
Traffic jams can be stressful enough to make you want to scream while pulling the hair out of your head. Commuting by bicycle allows you to avoid harmful stress by allowing you to go on off-road trails. Bike lanes. And wide curb lanes that allow you to ride past traffic jams.
Saving money will make you smile
You’re going to save a lot of money once you start commuting by bicycle. The cost to maintain your bicycle will be much less. And you’ll spend less on automobile maintenance and gas because you’ll be having so much fun riding your bike, your car will hardly leave the driveway anymore.
Plus, you’ll no longer have to pay for parking and tickets. And you won’t need to pay for a gym membership anymore.
Time to enjoy your commute
Commuting by bicycle is a ton of fun. You get to enjoy the scenery and fresh air on the way to work. This will result in you arriving to work refreshed, full of energy, and of course stress-free.
Enjoy the sense of freedom and accomplishment of commuting under your own pedal power. And while your at it, take the long way home or stop to enjoy the scenery if you feel like it.
Here’s how you commute by bike
Don’t be greedy, share the road
Just like regular vehicles, you should always obey all traffic laws such as stopping at red lights and stop signs.
Also, be cautious while riding through intersections, and always be predictable when riding on the roads.
Obey all signals and signs
Make sure you always obey all stop signs, traffic lights, and lane markings. And always look and signal before you change lanes or turn.
If the lane your commuting by bike in is too narrow or you’re going the same speed as traffic, take the full lane to avoid getting hit by vehicles that might get too close. Or might possibly push you too close to parked vehicles, increasing your risk of getting doored.
It’s also a good idea to be visible by wearing reflective clothing, signaling your intentions to motor vehicles, other cyclists, and pedestrians. And wearing a helmet.
Choose your route wisely
Whenever possible, choose a route with less traffic. Is the proper distance for your fitness level. Wide enough to ride safely along traffic. Is in good enough condition to ride on. And isn’t too rough of terrain for the type of bicycle you choose to commute with.
It’s important to choose a route that you enjoy, even if it’s a bit longer. A good way to find new routes is on the weekends when you’re not in a rush to get to work.
Finding bike parking
The last thing you want is your shiny new bicycle getting stolen. If possible, bring your bicycle indoors with you at work, if there’s space available.
You can also consider a folding bike, that easily fits under your desk or a small storage area while at work.
If you have a very far distance to ride or a folding bike isn’t suitable for you, learn the proper way to lock your bike. Always lock your bike to an immovable object such as a rack, pole, or railing. But never a street sight or tree. In a highly visible area of course.
Clothing that you’re comfortable in matters
For short commutes, you can choose to ride in your regular clothes such as pants, sneakers, and a t-shirt.
On longer rides, you can wear cycling shorts, a jersey, and cycling shoes.
Just make sure you keep waterproof and breathable clothing on hand in case of wet and hot weather, in order to stay comfortable and dry.
If you need to change clothes when you arrive at work, make sure to keep extra clothing at the job to change into.
Do you have the option of showering?
Many workplaces now have showers located on-site for those who choose commuting by bicycle.
Some health clubs also offer shower-only memberships for a few dollars a month.
If you don’t happen to have access to shower facilities, baby wipes and other toiletry items can do the job.
Use the bike you like
There’s no need to spend a ton of money on a fancy bike to commute on. What’s most important is that you ride a bike that feels comfortable to you (proper bike fit) and is in good working order.
Consider investing in fenders for rainy weather, and a rack for carrying all your personal belongings.
For riding at night, invest in a rechargeable headlight and taillight; helmet and handlebar types are available.
Keep your bike well maintained
You never want to get stranded in the middle of nowhere wile commuting by bicycle. Always have your bike checked over by a local bike shop.
To save on bicycle repairs at the shop, learn how to do basic repairs such as changing a flat, fixing a chain, and inspecting your brake pads for wear.
And replace your tires when the tread wears out.
How about that weather?
There’s no way to always avoid wet or hot weather when commuting by bicycle.
Wear layers to keep you warm on cold days, and breathable clothing when it’s scolding hot outside.
Commuter gear basics
Choose your bike
It doesn’t matter what type of bike you choose to commute on as long as it’s in good working order.
Road bikes, mountain bikes, hybrids, cross bikes, touring bikes, and folding bikes all work great.
The bike should match the type of riding that you plan on doing, riding position, number of gears, etc….
Carrying your belongings
A rear rack, front rack with panniers and/or a basket are all helpful when commuting by bicycle.
Backpacks or messenger bags work very well if you don’t have a rack or don’t prefer to have one in order to keep your bicycle light.
Fenders for keeping you dry and clean
Fenders no matter if they’re clip-ons or full length, help keep rain, dirt and mud off of your backside, pants and shoes.
Use lights to be seen
Headlights and taillights that are rechargeable and bright are necessary at night; white in the front and red in the back.
A front light with at least 300 lumens will help you see what’s ahead, while alerting motor vehicles that you’re coming without being too bright.
In the rear, a red light increases your visibility at night so that motor vehicles don’t run you off the road.
Just make sure to check batteries and replace them, or if using rechargeable lights (what we recommend), charge them fully after each use.
Keep yourself safe by following all rules of the road:
- No running red lights.
- Stop at all stop signs.
- Pay attention while riding through intersections.
- Use proper hand signals.
- Be predictable by riding in a straight line.
- Signal before turning or changing lanes.
- Always wear a helmet.
Bring tools that you know how to use and/or items for fixing a flat (someone may be able to help).
A good lock
Use a U-lock with a cable lock or a heavy duty chain lock. Make sure to secure both wheels and the frame, along with other components if they can be easily removed.
Prevent flat tires
Keep the air pressure at the suggested amount listed on the sidewall of your tire. And replace tires when the tread gets worn out.
Always wear bright or reflective clothing such as vests, jackets, pants, reflective panniers, backpacks, gloves, etc….
Ankle straps are also a great idea, as they prevent your pant legs from getting stuck in a greasy chain. Plus, they usually have a reflective strip.
Security is important while commuting by bicycle
Lock your bike in a visible area
Lock your bike in a highly visible area close to pedestrian traffic and streetlights.
Never lock your bike behind large objects that block visibility. And never to an object such as a street sign or a tree that can easily be cut.
Keeping your bike secure
Make sure to lock your bike to a large, heavy immovable object that cannot be cut. Lock the frame, wheels, seatpost and anything else that can be easily removed.
You can get seat and seatpost locks that only need to be installed once.
How to use bike locks
Use a U-lock to attach the frame of your bike to the secured object, and a cable lock to secure parts of the bike to the U-lock.
Never use a cable lock by itself. They are too easy to cut. Or if you prefer, use a thick chain lock as it can do everything mentioned above.
How to carry a bike lock
A great way to carry your bike lock is inside a backpack or pannier.
Or, if you choose to, carry your lock attacked to the frame of your bike, as most locks come equipped to do so.
Just never ride with your lock hanging from your handlebars.
Extra stuff to do to keep your bike secure
Register your bike with a local and national registration service. Along with your keys with the company that made your lock.
Also, make sure to mark your bike in an identifiable way to help in the event that it’s recovered if stolen.
Ways to carry cargo
Get a rear rack
A rear rack provides space for items to be carried above your rear wheel. You can attach panniers and baskets to them.
Just be sure to attack reflectors and lights on the rack so that whatever you carry isn’t blocking them.
A front rack
Front racks provide extra space to attach a basket above the front wheel. A front rack gives you quick and easy access to items.
Be extra careful when suddenly stopping as front racks add extra weight that can cause your bike to flip forward.
Good old baskets
Baskets come in a variety of materials (wire, wicker, etc..), with some being detachable while others are permanently mounted.
A cheap way to make a front basket is to use plastic milk crates.
How to pack panniers
Load specific-use items in the same pannier; one for food, clothing, tools, etc.
Pack high-use items, such as rain gear close to the top of each pannier.
Avoid packing pointy items directly against pannier that could tear them.
Protecting items from rain
Avoid having your gear getting wet by packing them in plastic bags.
Rain covers minimize the weight that’s normally added by wet packs.
Riding in the rain while commuting by bike
Make sure to protect yourself
Visibility is reduced while it’s raining, making it harder for others to see you. Wear bright clothing to make sure you’re seen.
Waterproof clothing that’s breathable with layers underneath will keep you dry.
Keep your bike protected
Front and rear fenders will keep you and your bike dry. Make sure to lube your chain before and/or after a wet ride to replace the lube that’s washed off. Drip chain lube down into your brake and shifter cables to avoid rust.
Make turns slowly to avoid losing control, especially during wet conditions.
Try not to ride over painted road lines as they can be slippery. And don’t brake too quickly, especially while turning. If you do need to brake during a turn, apply your brakes slowly.
Braking with wet rims
Water that accumulates on the rims from rain will make it harder to stop.
Apply the brakes slightly to clean off the rims so that they work properly when you stop.
Also, give yourself extra distance to stop.
Hazards to watch out for
Bridges, metal grates and painted lines along with crosswalks can be very slippery.
Avoid puddles as they can conceal deep potholes.
And remember that during the first few minutes of rain, oil floats on top of the roadway, making it very slippery.
Conclusion to commuting by bicycle
Commuting by bicycle is one of the coolest, and fastest ways to get around an urban environment.
Bicycling provides many health, financial, and environmental benefits. Not only does it save you money, but also makes you look fit, strong, and smart.
You’ll no longer have to wait in stressful traffic jams, while also being a pollution fighting super hero who’s helping to save the environment in the process.
Bike commuting is a blast, and once you give it a try, be prepared to let your car collect dust from lack of use.
Just like you, we love being on two wheels. So, we welcome you to the bike commuting world. And while you’re here, please feel free to share your urban adventures in the comments section below.
CHECK OUT THE BICYCLE COMMUTING GUIDE: HERE