Bike to Work Week May 15-19th,  Here’s how!

Getting to pedal your way to work can seem overwhelming, but there are lots of things you can do to make that commute easier.  Not only will commuting with pedals keep you fit and reduce stress, it’s also an easy way to sneak in some outdoor-time in an otherwise busy day. Whether you ride the entire way or combine your bicycling with time on a bus, train or other mode of travel, you will find yourself happier as a result. Here are just a few tips and suggestions that seasoned home-to-work-to-home travelers recommend.

As temperatures rise it is helpful to plan ahead. Ride to work in one set of clothes and change once you arrive.  The work clothes you pack are best if they resist wrinkling.  For those articles that need special attention, you can place them inside a dry-cleaning bag before placing them in your basket or pannier.  If a shower isn’t available on your arrival, baby wipes or Power Shower Towelettes will allow you to quickly freshen up if needed.

While riding bike with a backpack seems ideal, backpacks are also very good at warming you up and leaving unfortunate, sweat stains on your shirt.  Instead, plan to use effective and roomy bike accessories like baskets or panniers—bags that hook over your rear rack and look great when you tote them into the office.  Or try a messenger bag, which operates like a backpack, except it gives your body some breathing room.

Before your first commute, plan where you are going to stash and lock your bike for the day and remember to place your lock in your cool pannier before you leave home.  (See our previous blog–Keeping your bike safe– for more details on great locking techniques and tricks.)

Using your desk to store extra non-cycling shoes, a spare shirt (just in case you ever forget to pack one) and deodorant (since one can never have enough) will also help you to avoid embarrassing situations.  On a non-workday, lay out your bike path plan—remember the shortest is not always the safest or the most fun– and ride your route to get a sense of timing and other miscellaneous items that would come in handy.

It would be magical if your ride to work would always be flat-free, but having flat tire supplies, including spare tubes and a mini-pump or CO2 cartridge, is essential.  Many riders create a “commuter kit” that they leave in their work bag—saving themselves from packing and reassembling their needed bike repair items on a daily basis.

Ensure your bike light is in great working order—you never know when you may be asked to work late. Having it on during the high-traffic times that most of us head to and from the office, will also help you to see and be seen.  Bright yellow, green, or orange reflective vests and stripes on your helmet, will help others to know you are riding and help you to avoid injury.  Many bike clothing manufacturers even include reflective lines in their gear.  The right gear is essential, so spend the money you save on gas getting yourself properly outfitted.

Commuting experts encourage leaving 10 minutes earlier than you have to.  Combining that with a friendly approach to those you meet on the road makes for a relaxing, positive journey.   Having a consistent, commuting fallback –like using the bus, carpooling, or driving a car if necessary—is a great way to ensure you can consistently get to work without making your bike commute a burden.  These experts ride daily and may even have two or more bikes—the ultimate backup in case something breaks.   That second bike can also allow you to chose which bike might be best for various distances and weather conditions.

Other helpful items?  Try mud flaps/fenders, a bike bell, sunglasses, a cell phone mount.  And, of course, having some form of identification, your wallet and some money are all essential.

As one successful, long-time commuter said, “You’ll wear the wrong thing, you’ll forget underwear or shoes, you’ll show up to work wet, late, cold, hot, hungry—but what you’ll gain, even if it’s one day out of every month that you ride, is immeasurable.  The more you do it, the better you’ll get.  The smarter you’ll pack.  The more Matrix-like your bike skills will become.  You’ll experience the seasons and nature like you never could in the temperature controlled bubble of your car.  You’ll be an example to your family, friends and coworkers, and you will make yourself and the planet healthier.”

Here’s to your electric bike rides to work!