Have you ever thought about ditching your car and riding a bike to work … and then thought, “I don’t think I can do that”? Yes, you can! In this post, we have 7 tips for new bike commuters. We hope these will encourage you to get going on your bike!
Tip 1. Practice Makes Perfect
If you aren’t familiar with riding a bike, the best thing you can do is practice. After all, practice makes perfect. Good places to practice riding your bike are your driveway, sidewalks, parks, or an empty parking lot. Remember to practice your hand signals, as well as proper stopping techniques.
Tip 2. Plan Your Route, Making Sure to Use Routes with Less Traffic
The last thing you want when your start cycling to work is to be in heavy vehicle traffic that makes you feel unsafe. Use a free cycling app such as Strava to find recommended biking routes in your area that have less traffic. The Strava app can be used to find routes that are most often used by cyclists. Here is a post on how to use Strava.
Tip 3. Get the Right Equipment to Carry Your Belongings
Using a backpack to carry your belongings can result in a sweaty or sore back. Instead, let your bike carry your bag, so you arrive at work in good shape. The best plan is usually to get a good pannier (read about the best 7 panniers here). Or, if you travel light, you may even be able to get away with just a tidy little saddle bag.
Tip 4. Wear Suitable Clothing
When commuting with a bike, you should be wearing breathable clothing that won’t leave you drenched in sweat. If you have a uniform or dress clothes that you have to wear at work, pack them in a suitable pannier and wear specialized cycling clothes to prevent overheating while cycling. You can find quick links to all of our best posts on cycling clothing here.
Tip 5. Make Sure Your Bike is Good to Go
Before you head out with your bike, be sure to do an “ABC” check to make sure your bike is ready:
A. Check the air in your tires
B. Make sure your brakes are working well. Use both levers on your bike handles to make sure they both work smoothly and efficiently.
C. Make sure your chain is working functionally and has no dirt or debris caught in it. You should also lubricate it regularly to keep your bike working well. And of course, keep it clean – we suggest using the easy hack for keeping your chain clean and lubed that we described here.
Tip 6. Pay Attention to the Rules of the Road
Make sure that you follow the rules of the road. This includes paying attention to traffic lights and stop signs – except in situations where doing so would endanger you and others. Almost all roads are designed for cars, not bikes, so riding safely requires both attention to rules and applying a lot of common sense. For example, stopping at a stop sign on a huge uphill at dawn when there are no cars for miles around, and then being unable to pull of again, would be just plain unwise. On the other hand, running a red light in busy traffic is very unwise.
In many cities there are organizations that offer courses in how to ride in traffic. It is well worth spending a day doing one of these courses – you are sure to learn skills that make you more competent and confident in traffic. Even people who have ridden bikes for years often say that they learned something new at these courses.
Tip 7. Use Your Hand Signals
When riding your bike, make sure your movements are predictable. If other road users can predict what you are about to do, they can plan for your action. This can help to prevent crashes. Also, it shows respect and consideration to other road users, including other cyclists. Make sure you learn the correct hand signals so you can alert others on the road of what you are about to do. This way, you can turn or stop without causing problems.
This short video illustrates the proper way to use hand signals on a bike if you live in a country where people drive on the right:
Hand signals for cyclists do differ in different countries. Wikipedia has a good post for the many people who do not happen to live in North America!
Bottom Line for New Bike Commuters
Riding a bike to work can be healthy, safe, and fun. We hope these 7 tips help to make your bike commuting adventure as enjoyable as possible! Now get out there and discover the joys of biking to work! And please feel free to share your experiences and comments. We love to hear from you, and the Facebook comments function makes it super easy for you to be heard!
This Guest Post was contributed by Mark Fendelman. Mark is a passionate writer with great interest in anything related to food, sports and health. One of his dreams is to move to the country side in order to ride his bike more freely.
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