Have you finally joined the movement to get out of your car, and made the choice to bike to the office each morning? Before you start to pedal to work, you ought to know a few essential things that will help you to travel safely, efficiently, and in an environmentally friendly manner.
Five Bike Commute Tips
According to data gathered during the last U.S. Census Bureau report, the number of professionals who ride a bicycle to work has increased significantly over the last decade, from roughly 488,000 in 2000 to 786,000 during the period between 2008 and 2012.
Researchers believe the figure may be close to 1 million today. Other intriguing details include:
- The median commute time for people who bike to work is roughly 19.3 minutes.
- Men are far more likely to engage in bicycle commuting than women (at nearly double the rate).
- The West has the highest rate of commuters who bike to the office (1.1 percent), while the South has the lowest (0.3 percent).
Whether you’re a guy or gal, and you live in the West, South, or somewhere between, biking to work is a great idea. But if you want to do it the right way, you should keep the following five tips in mind.
Wear the Right Clothing
Dress is one of the primary challenges when you bike to work. Much of what you do will depend on the climate you inhabit, the time of year, and what your office dress code might allow.
But you’ll most likely want to wear one outfit on your way work, then change into something else upon arrival. Otherwise, you risk having to work in sweaty clothing that’s also dirty from your ride.
Give Yourself Plenty of Time
Eventually, you’ll reach a point where you know how long it takes to get to work on your bike, but even then, it’s wise to allow yourself extra time. You never know what might happen on any given morning.
From traffic and weather to flat tires and other unforeseen delays, you should include a cushion of extra minutes for your total commuting time. This should enable you to travel by bicycle without feeling pressure to push your speed all the way.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Biking accidents are fairly common, unfortunately. Any time you share a road with objects that are faster, larger, and a lot heavier than you are, you’ve shouldered some degree of risk.
But you can lower your chance of getting involved in a serious collision by being highly aware of your surroundings. Most bicycle accidents occur* as a result of:
- Car drivers not paying attention
- Vehicle operators failing to respect the space allotted to bicycles
- Unsafe road conditions, such as loose gravel, road debris, and potholes
- Rain-slicked roadways and surfaces altered by other unusual weather conditions
When you are more aware of your surroundings, you can substantially reduce your odds of getting injured or killed. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the route and never stop being alert.
Morning coffee is great, but water is more essential for the cyclist. Make sure you drink some water prior to leaving the house, as well as upon arrival at the office. (You’re likely to find that your bike commute will make coffee less of a necessity anyway.)
Keep a backup bag at the office to help you prepare for work quickly once you’ve arrived at the workplace. The bag should contain such essentials as socks, underwear, spare shoes, wet wipes, deodorant, dry shampoo, lotion, and anything else that will enable you to shift swiftly from cyclist to employee.
Biking With a Purpose
Biking to work isn’t as easy or convenient as backing out of the driveway in your climate-controlled vehicle and cruising to the office. It requires planning, fitness, and a willingness to sacrifice some comfort for the sake of the environment.
In order to make this level of long-term commitment — as opposed to a short-term fad — you have to identify your purpose and keep to it. Some people bike because they want to get more exercise, and the commute to and from the office represents an excellent opportunity to burn calories and get the blood pumping.
Other workers ride because they feel a strong need to do their part in reducing carbon emissions and promoting a healthier environment for future generations. Different people will have different motivations, and you will have to make sure you identify something to drive yourself onward.
Otherwise, you’re apt to end up going straight back to the comfort of your motor vehicle as soon as the going gets a little tough. You’ve made a good decision; now’s the time to solidify your commitment and embrace the opportunities that come with biking to work!