Considering commuting to work by bike? Once you get into the habit it does become rewarding and easier. Commuting to work by bicycle has many benefits. Not only does it helps you stay fit, but it also saves you money, reduces traffic congestion, and improves air quality.
But what you do need is some tips and tricks for commuting to work by bike to get you started, right?
You’ve come to the right place!
I’ve written up some pieces of advice that I wish I had known when I started commuting by bicycle. Feel free to read and absorb them!
Commuting – Plan Your Route
A key to enjoying your commute is to find yourself a good route. Ideally, it should be the shortest route to work (unless you’re feeling ambitious!). To find this you should check out a route planning on either Strava or Google Maps.
On Google Maps there is a bike icon. When you click it, it will find the most cycle-friendly route available. This means it could be avoiding busy roads and/or steep hills (if that’s what you’d like).
If the route planner brings up several options, then I would recommend that you opt for the flattest route. At least initially. Hills are hard work so doing without them is a good idea. Especially if you don’t want to get to work as a sweaty mess!
As you get used to cycling to work, you may want to switch the route to include some hills.
The pace is also worth thinking about. Going full gas straight off the block is tempting and I’ve been guilty of that many times. Don’t be like me.
A good place to start is going at or around 70 – 80% of your full effort. Trust me, you’ll feel better when you get to work!
You may also be interested in How To Carry Your Phone While Cycling.
Right, so my first tip for clothing is to plan your outfit the night before.
Check the weather and plan accordingly. Having your outfit ready when you wake up takes the stress away and also means you don’t have to get up quite so early. Your chances of forgetting something you need are reduced too so there are a lot of benefits!
This one made a big difference to me in the beginning as it meant I just put my cycling clothes on. There was no temptation to maybe take the car “just this once and I’ll cycle tomorrow”. I’m putting on lycra. I’m cycling today.
My second tip would be regardless of what the weather forecast actually says, pack yourself a rain jacket because cycling in the rain isn’t fun. Cycling in the rain when you aren’t prepared is miserable.
Finally, depending on the length of your commute, you might need to consider keeping some spare clothes at your workplace. You never quite know what’s going to happen.
A cheeky bonus would be that layers are your friend. Cycling clothes are expensive so where you can, buy versatile clothing that you can use throughout the year and through different seasons.
Related article – How To Layer For Winter Cycling
Some commuters use backpacks, some don’t. What’s right?
I like backpacks but I don’t use a backpack when I have to look presentable when I get to my destination. This is for the simple fact that you’re quite likely to sweat around your back when you’re wearing one.
Panniers are the answer in my opinion. Attach them to the rear rack of your bike. It usually means you can carry things more easily too. Though it can make the bike a bit more difficult to ride until you get used to it.
In addition to what to pack on the bike, I would pack a few things you can keep at your workplace. For example, if you have shower facilities at work then keep some toiletries in your locker. A gym bag with some soap, deodorant, towel, and comb is a good start.
If your workplace doesn’t have shower facilities, it’s time to make friends with the sink. Grab a washcloth or baby wipes and you can freshen up that way.
Related article – Backpack Or Pannier – Which Is Better For Daily Commuting?
Locking Your Bike
If your workplace doesn’t provide a secure place to store your bike, firstly, shame on them!! Secondly, you’re going to need to find a safe place for it.
A general rule of thumb with bike locks is, that the more you pay for one, the more secure it is. I tend to apply a 10% rule to it. Spend 10% of the value of your bike on a lock.
If your bike is decent, then you should use more than one lock on it, especially in high-risk areas. One lock will secure the rear wheel and the frame. The second lock will secure the front wheel.
Ensure where you decide to lock your bike is busy enough with foot traffic. This will help to deter thieves.
Do remember that thieves aren’t stupid and will spot routines. If you park your bike in the same place, at the same time every day, they could take advantage of this knowledge. Change places!
Related article – How To Store And Protect Your Bike Outside
Safety – Be Seen!
If there’s one part where you shouldn’t skimp on, it’s safety.
A helmet can save your life in a crash so always wear one. No matter how short or ‘safe’ your commute.
Lights and reflective clothing can help prevent a crash so worthwhile investment.
If you’re totally new to cycling, then the idea of wearing bright clothing might be a bit scary and you might feel a little silly. I get that. In time you will come to embrace it, down to the reflective socks, just like me 😀
You can attach reflective details on your bike. Reflective tape and spoke clips are readily available and easy to attach to your bike.
They do have the added bonus that they aren’t battery-powered so aren’t reliant on you remembering to charge them.
However, reflective details won’t be sufficient on their own. They’re a good start, but you need more!
Regardless of what time of day you’re cycling, I would advocate lights. You can buy lights for the daytime, nighttime or ones that cover both. I never cycle without lights.
During the day I’d recommend a light that pulses or strobes as this can help grab the attention of drivers. A constant light can be missed. It can also be difficult to judge your distance and/or speed.
You’re going to want to do a bit of research about how many lumens you want/need depending on when and where you’ll be riding.
Bright and reflective clothing is a great way to increase your visibility and to be honest, acquiring it becomes slightly addictive.
Reflective clothing uses different materials and is very visible at night.
This type of clothing works by reflecting the light, as opposed to absorbing it. What this does mean is that while you do need some form of light to make these standout, it’s only a little bit.
The reason I love reflective clothing so much is that even a distant car light will be able to see you so they work really well.
Hi-Viz does have its place and during the daytime will improve your visibility. However, at night, it won’t do much for you. This is why you find reflective pieces incorporated within the Hi-Viz clothing.
So overall, I would recommend that you opt for reflective clothing if you know you’re going to be cycling in the dark, even the dusk.
Still not convinced?
You may also like to read How To Bike Work Without Getting Sweaty.