10 Tips to Make Your Bicycle Commute Easy
In an ideal world, we would all live within a maximum of 5 kilometres or thereabouts from our workplace. A scenic bike route would connect our home and our office, and the weather would be pleasant and perfect for biking year-round. Well, this is not an ideal world, and you'd be lucky to live in a bicycle-friendly city. If not, like most bicycle commuters worldwide, it would take some grit, determination, and perseverance to make the bicycle your primary mode of commute.
Lucky for you, we have tips from experienced bike commuters on how to start and continue bicycling to work.
1) Plan your Route
Start with planning your commute route. Don't look for the shortest ones but plan to include roads with more cycle-only lanes. Most cities are adding to existing tracks, so be sure to keep yourself updated. Calculate the total distance from your home right to your office. If you feel that this distance is more than you can handle, maybe look at commuting to a nearby railway station where you can safely park your bicycle before you use the train.
2) Do a Dry Run
Yes, it is essential to do a dry run, preferably sometime during the weekend, to help you get familiar with the route and the surroundings without the bother and distraction of weekday traffic. You could do this for multiple weekends or until you have gained confidence and familiarity with the route.
3) Bicycle Commuting Clothing
Another thing that you should consider is your clothing. Is the weather good enough that you do not require a shower or a change of clothing when you start your workday? If not, you should explore shower options, change of clothing and shoes, as well as a toiletry kit you could use to freshen yourself up before you start work. Ensure that your clothing, shoes, etc., should complement riding and not be a hindrance.
4) Schedule your Commute Timings
Most bike commuters start early in the day to avoid vehicular traffic. and similarly, leave their workplace earlier. Check if this works for you. However, travelling during early or late hours, you should make yourself visible to other vehicle drivers. Be sure to add fluorescent lights to your bike and maybe wear a reflective safety vest. Additionally, add a white light in the front and a red light on the back.
5) Protective and Safety Gear
Safety requirements that you should add to your riding kit are a helmet and a bicycle bell. Trust us; the bell will be employed often while on your commute and especially for unruly pedestrians. Consider adding mudguards and fenders to avoid water puddles and mud from the streets getting onto you. And in the rainy season, it would do well to use a rain jacket along with rain pants to protect yourself.
6) Keeping your Bicycle Safe
To avoid your bicycle being stolen while you are at our workplace, lookout for safe parking or storing options. Better still, find a suitable parking spot where the risk of theft is negligible. You don't want to worry throughout your workday about the safety of your precious ride.
7) A Pannier for your Office Bag
As unglamorous and somewhat tacky as it may look, adding a pannier rack so that you easily cart your office bag and other stuff would be a sage decision. A messenger bag or a backpack may seem easy to haul along while riding, but it would mean you still bear that bag's weight.
8) The Perfect Bicycle for Commuting
If you are looking to buy a bicycle, one with gears will make your ride more efficient and less tiring. Even better, consider the e-bike, which is gaining popularity and is a logical choice. Check out the Outdoors 91 electric bike the Meraki. It would be your perfect commuter bicycle. A little bit of power to make your bike ride even more enjoyable.
9) Travel Buddy
Finding a travel buddy is one of the tips that make commuting easier and enjoyable. Look around for like-minded cyclists riding, if not all of the way, but even part of your ride. Check out websites where you can connect to these bicycle commuters. They share the start and endpoints of their commutes. You may find your cycling buddy here.
10) Chasing Street Dogs
Okay, now for an odd but probable situation - street dogs that chase behind you. They tend to chase anything that moves. Be it a jogger, bicyclist, or even a car. They do this because they love the chase, and you most likely are in what they consider their territory. They are not looking to frighten or bite you. But scare it does to anyone, and you automatically cycle harder to get away from the snarling animal. What an experienced rider has suggested is to slow down and look back. The dogs tend to back away. They are no longer interested since the chase is not there, and you may also have crossed the dogs' perceived territory. Another suggestion is to throw treats at the dog. It may confuse them, and the 'treat' may become the object of their attention.
Other tips that fall in the category of 'Do not do this' include
1) Use earphones or earbuds while commuting. All your senses need to be aware of your surroundings, including other vehicular traffic, etc.
2) Ride too close to parked cars. It is not uncommon for a non-suspecting biker to be thrown off their bike by a car commuter suddenly opening their door.
3) Do not compete with motor vehicles; give them the way. You are not in competition with them.
4) And finally, never ride on the pavements or sidewalks. That's for pedestrians.
Not necessary, but something you should know is - how to deal with a puncture. You can read the guide we have for you on essentials required to fix a tyre puncture and our step-by-step instructions on how to patch a bike tube easily
Transitioning to a bike commuter might seem daunting at first but think of the benefits you will reap from saving money, getting your exercise, burning calories, getting fit, and multiple cognitive benefits as well.
Even when you start using your bicycle to travel to work, you need not use it every day, both ways. Start by one day travelling to work and the next day travelling back home. Or, if you prefer every alternate day to and fro. Your commute by bike should be about having fun. Don't make it a chore. Use the bus, a cab, or an aggregator cab for the days you wish to, and the weather is playing spoilsport. You need to ease yourself into this new mode of travel and gain confidence.
Remember, bike commuting is a change from sitting back and travelling with minimal exertion that you have been doing for years. And now you play an active part in ferrying yourself from home to work and back.
We'd love to hear if you have had experiences making the bicycle your primary transportation mode to reach your workplace. Please share your experiences by adding to the comments below.
CYCLING TIPSCycling Checklist for Beginners
A comprehensive list of things that novice cyclists should know to make their rides enjoyable experiences