Bicycle Commuting 101
During my summer internship with Ridekick International, I’ve read several commuter blogs and articles offering advice to new and interested bike commuters. As a college student, I try to ride to campus and work as often as possible to save money and stay fit. This does not come without some challenges, so I have compiled some of my favorite tips for new commuters.
1. Don’t buy a mountain bike just because there are a lot available. Mountain bikes are good for many things, even commuting, but most people don’t use them for their main purpose; trail riding. The large, thick tires add a lot of resistance, so if your commute mainly consists of pavement or asphalt streets, consider a road bike or hybrid of the two.
I previously owned a mountain bike that I enjoyed taking up to the foothills by my house, but after moving closer to campus I purchased a Miyata road bike. The difference it made with in-town rides was incredible. Considerably lighter and faster, I feel like I can fly to class, and it is much easier to carry up to my third floor apartment for storing.
2. Clean and check your bike regularly for wear and tear. Once you’ve found the bike best for your needs, it’s important to perform regular maintenance checks to ensure your ride is comfortable and efficient. Things to observe:
- Tire pressure
- Tire wear or damage
- Brakes for wear and stopping control
- Chains for rust and dryness
3. Paul Dorn, bike commuting blogger, says “When considering your route, don’t think like a motorist. Think like a cyclist.” By picking a more leisurely route, even if it’s not the most direct path from point A to point B, it may help you avoid traffic obstacles and hills, allowing you to arrive at your destination safely and less stressed.
Bicycling directions are available on Google Maps: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/03/biking-directions-added-to-google-maps.html
Your local transportation department will more than likely have a bike route map for your city. If you have an extra long commute, you can consider looking at bus routes to help with the distance.
4. The most important accessories you can take: U-Lock, bike lights or a head lamp for when it gets dark, rain jacket, small bike tool kit, spare tube, and a good backpack or saddlebag to hold everything.
For When You Get There:
5. Store extra clothes, shoes, or hygiene products at the office. That way you don’t have to carry them back and forth. If you’re like me and don’t have a permanent place to store hygienic items, opt for purchasing them in travel size. Baby wipes are also great on hotter days if you don’t have access to a shower at your workplace.
Avoid Burning Out:
6. It’s okay to take a break every once in awhile. Especially if you’re feeling tired or the weather isn’t ideal for a commute. It’s better for your health and safety and for those you share the road with.
While these are my favorite tips, there are many articles, blogs, magazines, and groups that can provide more information and inspiration to get out of a car and on a bike!