Frustrated with getting stuck in traffic?
Tired of taking the subway?
Well, it’s probably time for you to consider biking to work. Cycling to work is now becoming a trend — thanks to the frustrating experience of being stuck in snail-paced traffic, the popularization of biking-to-work-lifestyle by tech companies in Silicon Valley, and the drive to stay healthy and fit.
So are you excited to join the next wave of urban bikers?
Bet you are! But before you put your foot on that pedal, here are some things you should learn first.
1. The reality of biking to work.
Forget what the magazines are hyping. The floral dress, bright sun, and beautiful smiles — these are just for Instagram. In reality, riding your bike to work means braving the traffic and embracing all that pollution. All while constantly staying on alert for passing cars and unwary pedestrians.
And oh, did I also mention the rain?
Of course, cycling your way to work is not all bad. It has its own share of amazing benefits too! Biking to work helps you stay fit. It gets your blood flowing before you hit the desk — call it a productivity hack!
It’s a lot cheaper too! With gas prices soaring and taxi fares following suit, it appears that biking on your way to work is the most cost-effective form of transportation nowadays.
2. You don’t have to buy a high-end bike.
There’s no need to break the bank on flashy, lightweight, carbon fibre bikes. Remember you are just starting out. What you should look for is functionality and whether or not the bike meets your needs (and of course, your budget).
Consider these questions:
- Terrain: are you biking on pavement or dirt?
- Gears: Do you need to climb hills to get to the office? How steep?
- Distance: How far do you need to ride?
- Comfort: Would you be willing to give up speed for comfort?
- Frequency: Are you planning to ride your bike every day regardless of the weather?
- Rack: Do you want to install a rack on your bike to hold pannier bags?
Take a step back and answer these questions before committing yourself to a specific model. Doing this will help you avoid those “I hope I got something else” situations. You are just testing the waters here so make do with what you have or what you can afford until you know what you really need.
3. Your safety is your number 1 priority.
Mountain trails are nothing compared to braving the urban traffic. It’s a whole new world out there. And it’s wild! Make sure to keep these things in mind when heading out to work:
- Always wear a bike helmet.
- Always follow road signs.
- Stay in the bike lane. If there’s no bike lane available, ride at the edge of the road.
- Never assume that you have the right of way. Stay defensive!
- Watch out for unwary pedestrians, parked cars, debris, and stray animals.
- Use reflective strips on your bike and on your clothing so other drivers can see you — a must when you are cycling at night, or in heavy rain or fog.
4. Your bike’s safety is your number 2 priority.
Kudos for getting to your destination safely! But before you go inside and brag about your thrilling first-time bike ride to work, make sure your bike is safe. You want your bike to be there where you left it, right?
The National Bike Registry and the FBI published that a staggering $350 million in bicycles are stolen in the U.S. every year. Crazy huh? It only shows us that bicycle theft is a major concern in cities where the urban cycling lifestyle is thriving.
Here are some precautions you can take:
- Use locks U locks and cable locks are the most common and effective bike locks on the market today. Use both types for added security. When locking your bike, make sure to lock both the wheels and the frame to the rack! Half a bike won’t take you home.
- Bike parking facilities See if your company has a biking facility in place. If not, check if there’s a bike parking facility close to your office.
- Register your bike. Registering your bike allows you to prove that the stolen bike is yours when it’s recovered by the authorities.
5. What to wear when biking to work
You got the bike. You know all the safety rules by heart. And you finally bought a bag-full of bike locks from a clearance sale at your local shop. So what’s next?
Unless you’re planning to attend the World Naked Bike Ride in Canada, then stop reading. For those who think that Canadians are really weird, then let’s go on and talk about the proper urban bike commute outfit.
It’s common to see men in suits and ties, and women in dresses biking their way to the office. While it works, it’s not really ideal. What if your suit gets dirty? What if your dress gets caught in the chain?
If you want to make urban biking a walk in the park (wait, what?), then it is best to wear something comfortable like normal athletic clothing. There’s really no silver bullet here. The rule of the thumb is COMFORT and FUNCTIONALITY. Meaning, your bike shoes and clothes should be comfortable so you don’t get distracted while riding (safety) and your clothes should be functional or suitable enough for your destination.
The weather, temperature, and time of the day should also be considered carefully when making your clothing choices.
It is a good idea to keep a set of fresh working clothes in your office locker a day before you plan to ride. This will allow you to ride comfortably in athletic or in spandex bodysuits and change to normal work wear before you start the daily hustle.
Biking your way around the city is the healthiest and most cost-effective way to move around. The first-day ride can be daunting but go ahead and try nonetheless. Just keep in mind the things we discussed in this article. It won’t take you long to love this urban biking lifestyle that everybody’s talking about!