Biking to Work in the City: 5 Tips
Bike commuting is an eco-friendly travel option and is usually quicker than driving a car in a busy city, but it can be dangerous if you’re not prepared. Here are the benefits of biking to work and five essential tips to help make your commute as quick and safe as possible.
Benefits of Biking to Work
Biking to work has many financial and personal benefits aside from its environmental value. It helps you save money on vehicle maintenance and gas, which is more relevant than ever in today’s economy. You also become eligible for government subsidies, as U.S. citizens who bike to work at least three times a week receive monthly $20 tax-free reimbursements on bicycle-related expenses.
The most convenient thing about bike commuting is that you don’t need to look or pay for city parking. You can just lock your bicycle to a secure bike rack and leave it there for the rest of the day. You can change your travel route and parking location on any given day, dodge traffic jams and speed up your commute.
Biking also gives you a challenging workout. It’s an effective calorie-burning activity and a worthy substitute for going to the gym — assuming you have a healthy diet. It can help people relieve stress, recover from addiction and alter their lifestyles for the better, even if they’re pressed for time.
Tips for Bike Commuting in the City
You can only experience these benefits if you know the ins and outs of cycling in the big city. You don’t want to start riding with no knowledge or protection. Here are the most important bike commuting tips you need to know.
1. Protect Yourself
Cycling is not as safe as driving, despite all its benefits. You’re more vulnerable to injuries if an accident occurs, and you also might experience discomforts such as chafing or eye irritation. You need to protect yourself with the following gear and bike commuting clothes:
- Elbow and knee pads
- Padded shorts
- Cycling socks and shoes
- Bright, reflective clothing
- Extra clothes for inclement weather
You should also bring a first-aid kit to take care of minor cuts and scrapes. Even the most experienced cyclists fall down sometimes.
2. Safeguard Your Bike
Make sure you have the right commuter bicycle. Is the body in good shape? Does the seat feel comfortable? Do you feel safe riding your bike surrounded by cars and pedestrians? You might be better off with an e-bike over a traditional bicycle. Once you find your bike of choice, add these protective modifications:
- Tire fenders
- Puncture-proof tires
- Front, rear and side lighting
- Light reflectors
- Extra mirrors
- Bell or horn
These items won’t create a forcefield around your bike, but they will make you more visible and your bicycle more durable.
3. Consider Your Other Gear
Aside from yourself and your bicycle, you have to carry your first-aid kit, tire repair equipment and a bike lock, not to mention your work supplies and extra clothes. Make sure you wear bike shorts with pockets and have a sizable backpack. A pair of commuter cycling shorts is a huge game-changer.
4. Be Predictable
You should know that cyclists have a negative reputation for disobeying traffic laws and impeding other commuters. Don’t contribute to that reputation. Follow all traffic laws, including red lights, stop signs and yields, and make predictable movements. Here are a few ways to accomplish both tasks:
- Watch for open car doors.
- Use the bike lane, if one is available.
- Mind your blind spots, just like car drivers do.
- Send signals with your hands.
- Let pedestrians know when you’re going to pass them.
Most importantly, you need to ride with confidence. Get used to cars driving behind you, and don’t be afraid to maneuver around a slow pedestrian. Explore new roads in the city to find the fastest and safest route. Main street might be the most direct way, but it also has the highest likelihood of traffic jams or accidents.
5. Remember Your Hygiene
Your hygiene can become an issue, depending on weather conditions and the distance you need to travel. You have an easy solution if your place of employment has showers. Alternatively, you could bring these devices to keep yourself clean:
- Gym towel
- Body wipes or moist towelettes
- Deodorant or body spray
- Clothes made of breathable, sweat-absorbent materials
The best cycling socks, shorts and other bike commuting clothes are made of elastic materials like polyester and nylon. They will help keep you cool and prevent you from getting drenched in sweat.
Optimize Your Bike Commute
Biking to work can be an intimidating change. However, the right commuter bike, bike commuting clothes, and other protective and hygienic gear will make your trip a breeze. Remember these tips to optimize your journey and get to work in a safe and timely fashion.
- About The Author
Oscar Collins is the founder and editor-in-chief at Modded, where he writes about biking, fitness and similar topics. Follow him on Twitter @TModded for frequent updates.