I've been riding to work off and on for at least two decades. I'm lucky to live in Portland, which is a bike-friendly town (it hasn't always been that way). I used to try to avoid anything that made me look too much like a bike geek. Over time, however, I've discovered that some things work well (no matter what they look like).
Here are 31 tips for using your bike to commute to work.
- Wear a bike jersey. Not only looks swag, but dries quickly -- in a locker, or overnight if you wash it out at home
- If you have a dress code at work, leave a pair of nice shoes at work so you don't have to haul them back & forth
- If you've never before cycled to work, use a bike map to find a good route. For example, here's the map for Portland, Oregon.
- Before using a route to work, try riding it during the weekend to time it out. don't be late for work!
- Wear a helmet and biking gloves. Stupid things happen. Protect your body.
- Set goals. Newbie = just ride once. Beginner = 1 time per week. If you're riding once a week, set a goal for multiple days. Keep building
- In Portland bikes are allowed on Tri-met. If you have a long commute, consider the option of busing to work, and then riding home.
- For a more calming commute, avoid arterial roads. Find a bike-friendly street on the side.
- Avoid backpackitis. Buy a removable pannier to carry your work clothes & lunch
- In the road, bikes are traffic. Follow the rules of traffic, it's your right & responsibility.
- It’s not all about commuting. Have fun on your bike ride, weekends and weekdays.
- Make sure your tires have the correct air pressure. Low pressure = more work for you and more chance to get a flat. Too high = bumpy ride and might be unsafe pressure on the wheel frames.
- Assume that the car/driver doesn't see you...because they probably don't. Use lights, reflectors & bright colors
- Learn to appreciate topography. Work with the hills on your ride to work, not against them.
- Get a bell. It’s cheerier than yelling “On your left” and it’s more recognizable as a bike warning.
- When you’re riding on the sidewalk, act like a pedestrian. Don’t go faster than a jogger. Be polite.
- Talk with other cyclists - to learn about the route, but also to be friendly during the commute. Say “Hi”!
- Watch the door zone. Drivers forget to watch for bikes when opening car doors. ORS says it’s OK to ride 3’ away from parked cars.
- Try to ride predictably. Avoid changing between street and sidewalk mode. Also, avoid dipping into spaces between parked cars.
- Check your brakes at the beginning of every ride. Be extra cautious after a rainfall.
- Sometimes you have to take the lane. Here’s a good post on road positioning skills
- When riding across rail road tracks, approach them at a 90 degree angle. Never try to ride along between streetcar rails
- Use the ABC Quick Check. A: air pressure B: brakes C: chain Quick: front wheel quick release
- If you like your bike and want to keep it, use a U-lock. Always lock the bike frame post to a secure place.
- When riding in two-way bike traffic, follow the general rules of traffic. In the US, ride on the right, pass on the left.
- Learn left/right/stop hand signals. Use ‘em (when it's safe). Wave thanks! The NHTSA link is here.
- Call it a Copenhagen left, Box-left, or Two-stage Left, if it makes you nervous turning left on a busy street, learn this maneuver.
- It rains in Oregon. Here are some tips to be prepared. I usually just get wet.
- Make it count. Track your commutes. Tell your friends. Join events like the BTA’s Bike Commute Challenge. #bcc #bcc2014
- Celebrate. Once a week, stop for a treat on the way home. Take a break at a park. Ride with friends.
And bike commute tip #31: do what works. Ride what you've got. Wear what you've got. Don't give yourself an excuse not to enjoy the ride to work. Give it a try.
My old ride to work was along the Springwater Corridor.