If you plan to start commuting by bike, start by planning your commute.
Warmer weather, a little exercise, command of your mobility, a food reward, or maybe yet another transit strike — no matter what the motive is, you’ve declared your intention to commute by bike. That’s great, now what? If you’re a first time bike commuter, here are five key tips to get you rolling.
1. Prepare your bike – Dust off your bike and show it some love if it’s been languishing in the shadows at home for a while. Even if it hasn’t been that long, have an experienced mechanic look it over to see what needs tightening, greasing, inflating, or replacing. The best bike for first time commuting is the one that’s in tip-top shape before putting the rubber side down. Prevention goes a long way in addressing common roadside problems before they can happen to you.
Tip: Learn some basic maintenance skills, like how to fix a puncture and adjust your brakes.
2. Prepare yourself – Take a peek at the weather to see what’s coming and plan accordingly. It doesn’t take much to pack a rain jacket or an extra layer of clothing but it can ruin your commute to get caught in the rain or cold.
Tip: Accessorize with reflective clothing, a bell, and lights that can be attached to your helmet, bike, or body. See and be seen and heard to remind your fellow road users to share the road.
3. Plan your route – Take a few minutes to map a route that steers clear of congested streets. Instead look for quiet side roads and bike paths that will calmly deliver you to your destination.
Tip: A quiet, longer route may be faster than a shorter route through city streets because of traffic lights, stop signs, and the like. For help planning your route, try the Bike Hub’s route planner. You can download it on the App Store or Google Play.
4. Get to know the rules of the road – If you want respect as a cyclist, you’ve got to earn it. Learn the hand signals for cyclists and obey traffic laws (even if it seems like you’re the only one following the law). Be the one cyclist who sets a good example for how to share the road.
5. Recruit a friend or a co-worker – Now that you’ve committed to yourself, why not commit to someone else for extra motivation? It works both ways and your friend or co-worker might be grateful for the nudge to start — and stick with — commuting by bike.
Aside from the known benefits to bike commuting (it’s healthy, economical, and boasts a low environmental impact etc.), maybe here’s something less obvious: commuting by bike is a rapidly evolving global trend that’s powered by former first time commuters, almost like you.