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Tag Archive: basic commuter tips

Some basic commuter tips

Bike commuting is a great way to stay active, save money, and help the environment at the same time. With your route planned out, and the proper mindset, you can set yourself up for a great experience. But without a little thought and the wrong setup, you could be setting yourself up for disaster.

Pick the right bike for the job

A lot of riders ride simple bikes to work every morning, and some ride the Ferraris of the bike industry to work. An expensive bike is fine but you don’t need it. The idea of commuting to work is to save you money. If your morning commute is mostly flat, there is no reason for a carbon fiber road bike with 30 gears. A simple bike that fits you comfortably, meets your budget, and has around 5 to 10 gears will suffice.

If you plan to commute at night or early enough in the morning that lights on a car would be required, you may want to also look into front and rear bike lights, as many states are now requiring them.

Protective gear
Not every state requires an adult to wear a helmet. Any seasoned rider can tell you there is no shame in wearing a bike helmet. In 2009, 91% of all bike fatalities were due to not wearing a helmet. These can and most likely will save your life. Although your commute might not be long, you will still be surrounded by other bikers and cars. Anything can happen, but know this. There are all kinds of helmets in all kinds of styles and shapes. Some of them are pretty amazing and comfortable.

As you will also be commuting near roads and highways, you may want to invest in some protective glasses or goggles to protect your eyes. Like helmets, these come in all forms of shapes and sizes and can even be made to prescription as needed. You’ll want to be sure these protect you from the sun’s UV radiation and are sturdy enough with polycarbonate lenses, as regular lenses offer less protection from small rocks and other debris flung from cars passing by.

Keep it simple
Take the time to get on your bike and ride to work on your days off. Take different routes and time yourself to see which one will save you more time. Also keep in mind the type of traffic and obstacles you may encounter during the morning work rush. You may also want to keep a backup route in mind in the case that there is an accident or road construction.

Carry only what you need
If your daily commute is only a few blocks, there is no reason to pack for a huge journey. Carry what you need for your day in a back pack or a messenger bag. If you normally carry a brief case, find a bike rack that will best accommodate it.
Make sure that in your pack to carry an emergency kit, emergency contact info, and possibly a rain kit just in case. The emergency kit should consist of at least an extra tube, tire levers, and a tire pump. Tire pumps come in many forms and sizes, so be sure to find one that fits your tube style and will not weigh you down too much. For rain gear, a simple poncho and rain pant will suffice, and usually only weigh a small amount.

If you are worried about carrying your dress clothes with you, or wearing them on your commute, you may want to stash a couple shirts, jacket, and a pair of shoes for work , in you cubicle or office. It might also be a good idea to keep a towel and clean up kit in your office just in case.

Bike security
Unless your office allows you to bring your bike inside, you may have to store it in a bike rack, or attach it to a sign post, or some other immovable object near your work. In most cases a u-lock will do the job by simply running it through your rear tire and frame. If you are worried this will not work, you may want to invest in a longer cable style lock. With a cable lock you can run it through you rear tire, frame, front tire, and then around the object you would like to attach your bike to. If you bike seat is attached to a quick release, you may want to take that and any other item that would be easily stolen with you.

Bike To Work Week: Rookie Commuter Resources

I love my Bike in all the months.

Hello enthusiastic readers – year-round cyclists, beginner cyclists, or future bike commuters!  Like the title above says, next week is Bike to Work Week! May is also the only month where you can cycle to work and get loads of freebies – safety tuneups, swag, blinkie lights, bike maps, and bike buddies.  Check out Jack’s article for handy links. For the bike-commuters-to-be and fledgling velodactyls, the staff writers at Bike Commuters wanted to share some tips, inspiration, and motivation to make May’s Bike to Work Week the best. week. ever. Everyone remembers the first time they rode a bike, and our readers have told us how they got started pedaling to work, and it turns out Bike to Work Week is a great starting point!

Here’s a list of some great articles I call the Rookie Commuter Resources. Hand selected and gleaned by yours truly… and don’t forget to read the comments, sometimes you guys are the ones with the best tips for bike commuting!  Enjoy:

  1. Let’s Bike – This year, Elizabeth presented the basics on bike commuting at her job.  She asked our readers to give their advice to newbie commuters.  As Ghost Rider says, “the comments are GOLD” in this one.
  2. 10 Bike Commuting Myths Dispelled Jack’s buddy Alan Snel shines truth on all myths related to bike commuting.
  3. My Conversation with a Cop about Bikes, Traffic, and Safety TipsRL hashes it out with his friend “Officer Ben” to discuss the legal stuff and how to bike commute safely within the law!
  4. Out of My Way, Boys!This article is by Dottie from Let’s Go Ride a Bike.  A funny read for Cycle Ladies getting pumped to tear up the streets!
  5. Commuting in Style (Pint-Sized Edition) Matt gives some tips on how to bike commute with tiny humans (a.k.a. children).
  6. Friday Musings – Top 3 Must-Have Bike Commuting AccessoriesReaders share their thoughts on their favorite commuter accessories.

We know there are more out there, on our site and others, so please share more links in the comments box for any Rookie Commuter Readers out there getting pumped for Bike to Work Week: May 14th through 18th!  Pedal Forward, Cycle Ladies and Gents!

Lookin' fly, Priscilla! Bike to Work Week with your DOG!

Let’s Bike!

Sometimes we seasoned bike commuters can forget what it’s like to be newbie out there or someone on the fringe considering getting on a bike again (perhaps for the first time since childhood).

This afternoon my work has asked me to do a presentation on bike basics for my fellow staff, focusing on what you need to get out and enjoy biking. It’s aptly being called “Let’s Bike!” and will include:

* Best bicycle choices for you
* How to get the best bicycle fit
* What bicycle gear you need
* What are the best routes
* Ways to stay safe

I’ll admit that I’m a bit overwhelmed… as I have so much enthusiasm for this topic and maybe too much to share. Now I’m trying to stay focused and keep this presentation cohesive.

So, I turn to you – the experts – for your tips/suggestions. What are your best “basic” tips/suggestions? Or what is best bike gear (or non-bike gear) suggestion that makes your ride that much better or more enjoyable?

Thanks to you all for your comments and helping folks everywhere make it easier to “Let’s Bike!”

(hopefully this post will help us continue with a series of more in-depth articles on basic commuter skills)

Wimpy “Winter” Commute

Ok, so I didn't take this pic, but I'm not exaggerating, it was like this on Saturday.

Aloha from the downpour in Honolulu, my Bikey Commuters… Of course it is I, Mir.I.Am, with Diary of a Wimpy “Winter” Commuter hailing from my desk at work!  Today’s commute was an ill-prepared twist of fate for yours truly, as the sunny “winter” weekend kept everyone in bikinis and barbeques during the day, and under covers and blanket during the breezy eves.  All of those lunchtime ocean dips from yesterweek disappeared like the last Taco Bell Baja Chalupa at 2:56am on a Friday night.  Sneak-attack rainstorm hit me from all directions signaling the official end of the weekend on my morning commute today.  However, optimistic rainbow ponies had me convinced that a tank top, cardigan, and Vanya Chrome pants was all I needed for my commute AND my office attire for the day.  “Come along, pretty princess, rainbows and magic pony power will keep you dry on your way to work!”

The worst of Winter Woes in Honolulu - Pony Attack!

YOU’RE NOT MADE OF SUGAR – WHAT’S A LITTLE RAIN?  Since moving to Chinatown, my commute has been shortened from 25 miles RT down to 3 miles RT (don’t judge, peeps) keeping most rainy winter commutes to a short fifteen minute ride on my fenderless Bumblebee bike.  So, one can imagine my shrugging shoulders when I exited my apartment building stairwell in a tank top despite the light drizzle underway.  Nothing more than a Mr. Mister, so I grabbed my booq “Mamba” backpack (review in near future!) and clipped in… Two blocks later, I was caught in puddles and soggy socks!  What’s the rush? I thought, as I pulled over to clip on some front and rear lights and fully embraced the cyclist-in-a-wet-cardigan look and decided that the more drenched I arrived at work, the better!  And, to no one’s surprise, I arrived with everything drenched except for the spot on my back protected by my backpack… great way to start the week, boss.

BIKE COMMUTE OFFICE STASH:  Luckily for me, I keep a stock of clean (ish) and dry work clothes stashed at my desk at the offizle.  A quick dry towel usually reserved for aforementioned lunch time swims was helpful in toweling off my hair and wrapping my shoes and socks for a (fingers crossed) drier commute on the way home.  My Vanya pants  + no fender = Bikini change-O to solve our soggy bottom issues before throwing on a work dress.  A comb, a pair of heels, and some Witch Hazel for good measure made my wimpy winter commute nothing more than a pony’s daydream…  Tonight I’ll make sure to pack my reliable pink rain jacket for good measure!  Time to restock the office clothes pile to save me on some other day when I leave the apartment decaffeinated and less-than-prepared.  My wardrobe change and Cycle Lady bathroom arsenal debunks the myths that cycling to work is unprofessional.

Stay Dry, Bike Commuters, and enjoy your winter however warm, cold, wet, or windy it may be!  Take it slow, enjoy the ride, and ride on, my little ponies.  For some really BAMF articles on real, non-wimpy winter commutes, check out this snowy article by Elizabeth!

Last Chalupa Standing - Here's to you, all-weather Bike Commuters!