Although the number of bicycle commuters in the United States has more than doubled since 2000, the group still accounts for less than 1 percent of all commuters – with bike commuters in Canada accounting for 1.3 percent of all commuters. In British Columbia, this could be thanks to the Bike to Work Week BC campaign, which occurs the last week of May into the first week of June.
For those looking to save money on their commute, maintain a more minimalist lifestyle and help decrease their carbon footprint, biking to work may be an option. If it seems like a difficult habit to adopt, these tips for biking to work could help you get started.
Wear a helmet
This may seem obvious, but it bears mentioning because helmets are not commonly used by cyclists unless mandated by law. The 22 states in the U.S. that require helmets are limited to minors. In Canada, many provinces have bike helmet laws that apply to riders of all ages – including British Columbia, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
Much like wearing a seat belt, using a helmet while riding a bike is the first line of defense against injury.
Do a dry run
Before you set out Monday morning, consider doing a dry run. Biking your way to work during off hours could uncover an unknown bicycle route that may be easier or safer. Take note of construction or road closures to alleviate the frustration of finding these things out while on your morning commute.
Freshen up at work
If you ride your bike to work in the summer months, it may leave you more flushed than you’d like. If your office has a shower, consider riding in your favorite gear and taking a shower at work. You’ll arrive at your desk refreshed and ready to start the day.
If your office does not offer a shower, be sure to pack wet wipes or a washcloth along with your spare clothes to freshen up.
Pack spare clothes
Work-appropriate attire comes in all shapes and sizes. However, they don’t all travel well. If you wear dedicated bike-riding gear on your morning commute, be sure to pack work-wear that doesn’t wrinkle. For best results, gently fold clothes before stowing them in a backpack or bike storage.
Keep a repair toolkit
Of the tools you will need in your bicycle toolkit, the floor pump is the most apparent. A good pump will also have a pressure gauge so you never run into a flat tire. Be sure to check your tire pressure before each ride and fill tires accordingly.
Hex keys, or Allen wrenches, may not be as conspicuous a choice for your toolkit, but is indispensable. These wrenches can be used to tighten seats, handlebars and much more. Sets are available in bicycle stores and most hardware stores in varying sizes.
Another essential is a tire patching kit which usually consists of rubber patches and tire glue, also known as rubber cement.
Use bike lights
Bike lights, on the front and back of your bicycle, are most useful at night on dimly lit roads to ensure passing drivers are aware of your presence. However, they are just as useful during the day to make drivers aware that they are sharing the road with cyclists and encourage them to err on the side of caution.