More than half of workers in the U.S., including more than 1 million Bay area residents, live within five miles of their workplace — that’s a pretty ideal distance for biking. The benefits of saddling up are hard to deny: it can reduce your waistline and your carbon footprint, while fattening up your pocketbook with all that gas money saved.
If you’re new to bike commuting, Bike to Work Week is a great chance to ditch the car and bike to work. Here are 11 useful pointers to help make your first-time bike commute so successful you’ll want to keep doing it every day after that.
Bikes come in as many variations as commuting routes. There are a lot of factors to take in account here when choosing between road bike, mountain bike and sturdy cruisers — so do your research and consult with experts.
As bikers increase in numbers, drivers become more aware and infrastructure improves. Therefore, risk has actually gone down in recent years. Still, it is extremely important to always be aware of the dangers and bike with caution.
Don’t consider taking that first ride without a comfortable knowledge of road rules, such as hand signals and proper lane etiquette. You need those skills to ensure that you and any nearby vehicles are on the same page.
Biking to work requires the ultimate blend of fashion and function. Flowing garments and cumbersome footwear are obvious no-nos. Our Levi’s Commuter series provides reflectivity, breathable fabrics and water/dirt repellency. Plus, garments are stylish enough that you won’t need to always carry a change of clothes.
Wearing a helmet is the easiest way to significantly decrease risks. If you plan to bike in the evening, lights and reflectors are a must to ensure your safety. A multi-tool and patch kit to repair a flat tire are just a few of the other essentials that you should acquire before heading out the door.
Find your ultimate path by talking to your neighbors and coworkers or researching your city’s bike maps. Don’t set out without a solid plan. That includes a backup plan in case things don’t work out, whether that’s knowing the nearest bus routes or having a taxi app at the ready on your phone.
Be sure to leave yourself some extra time for any unexpected issues that might come up along the way (hello, construction site). Remember, you can get off and walk at any time. If any part of the ride makes you uncomfortable, safely pull over, stop, and dismount.
One of the best ways to get over any initial worries about bike commuting is to plan the first of many journeys with a friend. Ask around your office to see who might be biking already and interested in commuting with you, at least until you get the hang of it.
Sad but true: If you live in a metropolitan city like New York, you need to take extreme measures to prevent your bike from being stolen. Invest in a sturdy U-Lock and heavy-duty chain lock, and always lock the frame and both wheels. And remember, the bike is only as secure as what you are locking it to.
Commuters need to be prepared for any and all surprises that nature may throw their way. Our water-repellent Commuter gear has you covered in the case of a sudden rainstorm. Also, consider possible changes in temperature — for instance, gloves are a necessity in frigid temps and sunscreen should be worn even on cloudy days.
Every little bit counts, so you may want to start small by challenging yourself to commute to work just one or two times per week to start. You can always work up to making it a daily habit, so start slow.
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Photo credits: Paul Krueger; Daniel Oines; Nic McPhee; Timquijano; Len Matthews