Most people’s initial thoughts of a cyclist or bike commuter probably revolve around a guy wearing reflective sports sunglasses, spandex outfits and a flashy bicycle helmet streaking by at somewhere around 20 mph while defying all traffic laws as they dart between traffic.
In reality, most people who commute to work via bike are your average people who simply tried it once and subsequently got hooked, and if you decide to try it out, you might ditch your car more often too.
There are many obvious reasons why you should try commuting to work via bicycle. For one, it can save you some serious cash, considering you don’t need gas, expensive vehicle maintenance, registration, insurance or a costly collision.
Besides the savings, there are also many physical and mental health benefits. Riding your bike at any distance is much better than sitting in your car doing nothing. When considering that sitting for extended periods of time has now been linked to a number of health concerns, getting a bit of exercise in on the way to work will go a long way helping you stay or get in shape.
For your mental health, just imagine the difference between driving — missing lights, cursing at other drivers, almost having a collision with some idiot Snapchatting themselves singing to Taylor Swift — and riding your bike … casually waving to people walking their dogs and enjoying the fresh air.
Now that you’ve weighed the benefits and perhaps even want to try it out, consider the following (unofficially recommended via reddit) tips to not getting yourself killed on the way to work. Thank Steve W., or reddit user “iwontbeadick,” who submitted the best response.
Survival Guide To Bike Commuting:
- Use the sidewalk. Depending on what state you live in, and if it’s legal, there’s nothing wrong with using the sidewalk when there aren’t people on it.
- Find bike routes, trails or parks. You can cut through on the way to reduce time spent on the road.
- Follow traffic laws. Don’t roll stop signs or run red lights. You’ll save seconds, and make everyone in a car who saw it hate cyclists that much more. Use your arms to signal when your turn could affect drivers or pedestrians.
- Use lights. Spend a bit of money to get decent bright lights front and back. Blinking lights really get attention of drivers.
- Don’t trust that people see you, ride defensively. If you think someone would have to be stupid to pull out in front of you right now … they probably will.
- Ride the route once on a day off. See what you wish you had brought with you. You’ll find that you don’t need much.
- Don’t go out and buy a bunch of biking-specific clothing. Just wear what you have, and as time goes by and you notice a weakness or annoyance, consider getting some gear.
- If you get wet or sweaty, just change at work. Don’t worry about a shower at work or rain on the way to work. I [kept] bike clothes and work clothes so when I got to work, I would change and in 10 minutes I was no longer sweating. Keep deodorant and some other toiletries at work, also socks and underwear.
- Get a decent bike. Don’t buy a $300 bike from Walmart. Do your research and possibly buy used. Good bikes versus cheap bikes are no comparison.
- Always wear safety gear. My minimum was a helmet and glasses to protect my eyes.
- When it’s cold, layer up. You don’t want to be warm before you get on your bike, it’s better if you’re a bit chilly because you will warm up quickly.
- Don’t worry about hills. Ride in the easiest gear at the start, even if it’s a walking pace. You’ll get better. As Greg Lemond, who won the Road Race World Championship twice and the Tour de France three times, once said, “It never gets easier, you just get faster.”