How to Bike to Work

If you’re like a lot of nine-to-fivers, you’ve probably spent more than your fair share of time stuck in traffic. Commuting to work can fill people with anxiety and generall make them unhappy, and can lead to lower life satisfaction, according to one recent survey. While you usually can’t change the location of your workplace, you can change how you get there. If you’re ready to start giving cycling to work a try, here are some tips to help you out.

Map out the safest route, not the shortest one. Many cities provide a bike map that shows cyclists the safest streets to ride on, and you’ll probably find that these are very different streets than the ones you’d use to drive to work. Those bike routes may include busy streets with bike lanes, quiet streets with little traffic, or perhaps even dedicated bike paths with no cars at all.

Even if a particular bike route is several blocks out of your way, it’s simply going to be safer -- and more peaceful -- to ride on. After all, there’s no reason your commute can’t be enjoyable while at the same time practical.

Have an emergency kit and know how to use it. Ideally, you’ll get your bike checked out by a bike mechanic every few months or so to get an idea of the type of maintenance you need to do on a regular basis. To go one step further, sign up for a basic bike maintenance course that teaches you how to lubricate your chain, true your spokes and change your tires. Then keep a repair kit that includes an extra tire tube, a pump and other basics that you can use should something happen along the way.

Have a backup plan in general. Maybe it’s a co worker you can rely on to pick you up in a pinch. Perhaps it’s just knowing the local bus routes and where they stop along your bike route. Whatever it is, create a plan for those days when it starts torrentially raining or when you have a problem with your bike that you can’t fix on the fly.

And of course, always check the weather -- including the local radar -- to find out what conditions you’re going to be facing during the commute.

Don’t skimp on safety. Outfit your bike with flashing front and back lights, and wear a neon vest to alert drivers to your presence. A quality helmet that fits you well is essential too. It also helps to have a loud horn you can use should someone drive a little too close.

Give yourself more time than you think you need. If you only have a few miles or less to cover, you could find that cycling to work is actually faster than driving. Still, things do happen, and you don’t want to end up being the perennially-late employee.

Check with your employer about perks for active commuters. If your employer has an employee wellness program, the company may offer certain incentives to get you to walk, bike or take public transportation to work. Some companies give out free bus passes; others allow you to rack up points for each time you complete an active commute. The points can then be redeemed for things like gift certificates or gym memberships.

Whether you decide to cycle to work every day or just one or two days a week, you’ll be doing something that is better for your sanity, and better for the planet too.


Sourced Image: City Bike