bike to work day commuting tips

11 May, 2010

photo courtesy of anthropologie

With Bike To Work day just in two days, I thought it would be helpful to give tips on how to commute by bicycle. Recently, I had just finished my research on why women in San Francisco do not commute by bike and want to address the issues that many women shared with me and then give my solutions based on personal experience.
Work dress code
Carry your work clothes in a messenger bag, pannier, or a bike basket. If you have a locker at work, leave your clean clothes there for the next day. If you have a short commute, wear your clothing and ride at at ease.

Sweat
Something i recommend is keeping deodorant, a washcloth, and soap in your desk or locker. if you have showers, use them, after all your company placed them there for your use. arrive to work a few minutes early to cool down, relax, and enjoy the rush after biking with a cup of coffee or water. something i also recommend is to not rush yourself to work, riding calm and easy is the best way to keep the sweat away.

Traffic safety
Select and test a bike route that is comfortable for you. make sure there are noticeable bike lanes. be aware of your surroundings and poor road infrastructure. use your bicycle etiquette and always make sure there is a bike shop along the way just in case of an unexpected flat tire. remember to keep calm and carry on.

Weather
Rain and cold weather are a total bummer, but can be fun to ride in too. if you decide to ride on a rainy day, be prepared to ride with the right outfit. rain boots and rain coats come in handy. change into your work clothes at work and don't put on make up till you get there, keep a traveling blow dryer for your hair in you locker too. just remember to ride slow and safely. on cold days, bundle up. remember that your body heats up and you'll be warm getting to work while everyone else is shivering in. it's okay to not ride on these days either as it is be best to be safe from the wet roads.

Commuting too far 
This is a popular one. there are many ladies in the bike commuting community who travel 5 miles, 9 miles, to 15 miles, to 30 miles to home and work on bike. If you live too far, try riding halfway and place your bike on the bike rack of a bus or train and ride the rest of the way. Some subway systems allow bikes on them or you can park your bike in the subway on their bike racks. Moving closer to work helps too, I know, easier said than done. Bike commuting challenges not only our bodies but also our habits and the crazy distances we cover the earth with gas emissions.

Bike getting stolen.
Most buildings have a bike rack to lock up bikes. if not, use a u lock to secure your bike on a rack and keep your bike in a secure area where you know you can see it.

Can't afford a bike
Affording a bike should not be a challenge. i have found both of my bikes via craigslist at affordable prices. there is no special bike one needs to commute just the will power to get on one and go.

Children. 
I see mothers out here in san francisco with their babies on bike, commuting with their children to school, games, and the park. older children are riding bikes too where the parent rides besides them. having a home, park, library, and school nearby is always a good sign for commuting by bike. it makes family time an adventure.

It's unsafe for women to bike at night
Women's safety is a major concern but women who drive a car are five times more likely to be killed or injured in a car. commute with friends, use bright front and back bike lights, keep your cell phone handy, and u locks are great weapons if needed, and always remember to use bicycle etiquette.

Carrying things. i strongly recommend accessories for your bike. a bike basket, panniers, or a messenger bag can make your bike look cute and come in handy too.

Commuting by bike isn't hard, choosing a sustainable life and benefiting earth and your body is a healthy choice that we all benefit from. with global warming, obesity, and gas prices on the rise, biking is becoming the new way to travel. some day i dream of seeing all my friends on their bikes riding lovely, happy, and safely on the road and i know it can happen one girl, one bike at a time. happy commuting!