Tips to Make Bicycle Commuting Possible for Everyone
Have you ever looked out your window while stuck in traffic and seen a cyclist moving at a brisk pace beside you? Perhaps you wished you were able to breathe fresh air and get exercise instead of sitting inside a stuffy car. By the end of this article, you’ll be ready to make bicycle commuting a part of your lifestyle. Plus, you’ll be helping out the environment, saving gas money, and burning calories.
Allow plenty of time
Especially important when you are first starting out, but even after months or years of bicycle commuting under your belt, plan extra time into your morning. Knowing that you have plenty of time will make your ride that much more pleasant. Take it from a long time bike commuter, Mia Moore.
Moore, from Chicago, Illinois says, ” I like to leave a little extra time so that I can commute at my own chill speed.” Plus being able to stop for a hot chocolate with the kids, or a coffee at that cute cafe by your work will make all the difference. Enjoying a cup of hot liquid on a chilly morning can be the spark that carries you through the rest of the day.
Find what works for you
There is no right way to commute. No matter how many suggestions you get from other bicycle riders or the internet, find what works for you. So whether you’re dropping the kids off at school or daycare, riding with a co-worker, or enjoying your own company don’t worry about what other people are doing.
Make it a family activity
Dan Seaton of Boulder, Colorado commutes with his kiddos every day. He says, “I get to spend twenty or thirty extra minutes with them, doing something we really enjoy. It’s helped us forge a special bond and helped my kids get interested in something that’s a huge part of my life – cycling. We sing, joke, and spend a lot of time talking about the things we see in the world around us; we’re really engaged, together, in a way that we probably would not be in the car.”
There are many benefits to biking with kids including being more alert at school and more connected with their community. If the kiddos aren’t big enough to ride their own bikes, a child bike seat or bike trailer is the perfect way to include them in your daily ritual.
Safety and Hand Signals
When getting ready for bicycle commuting it is important to make sure you know and are able to follow all safety rules. Bicycles are considered vehicles and must follow all the same laws that cars are subject too. Obey all stop signs, traffic lights, and lane markings. If you cannot safely travel in the bike lane, or there is no bike lane, you’ll need to ride with traffic and at the same speed.
Make sure you are doing all you can to remain visible to other drivers. You’ll also want to be predictable and use hand signals for turning or braking. Pointing your arm straight out to the left indicates a left-hand turn. A bent left elbow with fingers pointed upwards means turning right. You can also signal a right hand turn with the right arm. Pointing fingers downwards with a bent or straight left elbow signals that you plan to stop.
We can’t forget the recommendation to wear a helmet at all times. If you are bringing the kiddos along, whether in a child bike seat or a bike trailer, they should also be wearing helmets.
Invest in commute specific gear
While you don’t need to go on a shopping spree to start bicycle commuting, it is important to have some basics. If you’re starting this journey during the summer, you can get by with a few spare parts, a couple LED lights and a good lock. For those of you that don’t mind riding in the rain or sleet, you’ll also want to invest in fenders for your bike, and a quality set of rain gear.
For a commute over about 8-10 miles, it will be much more comfortable to ride in cycling clothes. Cycling shorts eliminate the seam in the crotch where the pant legs come together. That seam can make longer rides quite uncomfortable. If you’re still not excited about cycling shorts, check out commuter jeans. They are stretchy enough for pedaling work and don’t look out of place in an office.
Depending on your commute, you may also need a different type of bike than what you currently own. For a commute longer than 15-20 miles you’ll need a road bike. Road bikes are lightweight, efficient, and easy to handle. If the ride in is shorter or more flat you might enjoy it with a three-speed or single speed bike.
Start small when bicycle commuting
There is no shame in starting with just one day a month or a week. Or even biking halfway to work and riding a bus or carpooling with a coworker the remainder of the way.
We recommend that you spend a weekend morning riding to work and back so you know the layout and where to turn before your big first day. This will take some of the pressure off the first ride in and get you accustomed to the timing. If you’re planning on commuting with your kiddos you also want to practice bringing them to daycare. Find out whether you can leave your bike trailer or bike seats there or if you’ll need to secure them at your workplace. Think about how you are going to get your gear into the office and where you can leave your bike locked up during the day.
If your commute is longer or you’ll be working up a sweat on those hills, ask your boss if there is a shower at work you can use. If not, many gyms offer shower only privileges for a reasonable price. And as a last resort, take some baby wipes to get those hot spots before changing into your work clothes. We promise that your office mates will thank you.
Have a back-up plan
There will inevitably be days when the weather, your body, or your children don’t cooperate with your cycling plan. It’s important to have a reliable back up for these days so you can still make it to work on time. “Having a consistent fall-back – using the bus, carpooling, or driving a car if necessary – is great to ensure you can consistently get to work without making your bike commute a burden.” says Eric Budd of Boulder, Colorado. Consider keeping more than one bike on hand so if something breaks you have a back-up bike.
No matter how you and your family get around, bicycle commuting can be a fun activity for the whole gang. And, as with most things, the more you do it the better you’ll be. And the smarter you’ll pack. And the more fun you’ll have speeding through the streets while your fellow commuters sit in traffic.
If you’re ready to get started and need a way to transport your kiddos, check out our child bike seats and bike trailers so they can ride in style and comfort. Hamax is a premier, award-winning Scandinavian brand of child bike seats, trailers, and accessories. Now available in North America exclusively by Hamax USA. Hamax products bring the best of European design and safety standards – so you can trust that your precious cargo is in good hands.
hand signals – blog.rightturn.com