May is National Bike Month and many commuters opt this month to hop on a bike for the first time in a in a while and venture to the office on their bikes. Obviously, biking is a great source of exercise, but it also gives a sense of freedom that no other transportation method can create. Bike to work day is on May 16th and if you are planning on riding your bike on this day, there are some common concerns that may come up before you head out.
You can easily bike on a budget. There are a few absolutely essential items you will need.
You may know the best route to get to where you are going in your car, but that route can be vastly different from the route you are going to want to take on your bike. Most routes need a bit of tweaking for maximized bike efficiency and safety. There are a ton of apps that you can download to help plan the best route that are great for newbies and veterans alike. If you know other cyclist, they can be a great resource. They may know shortcuts or areas to avoid. If you are planning on biking to work for the first time, you may want to consider a weekend test run without any pressure.
Depending on the distance of your commute, you may be able to ride in your work clothes. Some commutes can be a real workout while others are more practical. If your commute is longer than 20 to 30 minutes you may want to ride in cycling clothing. Freshen up and change in to more professional attire once you arrive at work. Ideally you could keep a change of clothing at your office. You may also chose to do your hair (or if you wear makeup) once you get to the office.
You never know when someone will want to get out of their car. The best thing to do is stay out of their reach.
You should have white lights in the front of your bicycle and red lights in the back. Without them you are an invisible obstacle at night. Don’t make yourself liable for an accident.
If you are approaching an intersection, driveway, or empty parking space, get used to checking behind you for cars turning right. They won’t always check for you.
When you’re waiting at a red light, sometimes you can just tell the driver waiting across the intersection is going to try and turn left without waiting for you to cross. Plan for their recklessness and you can avoid a crash.
Hugging parked cars to avoid passing cars is a trap; you’re much more likely to be doored than hit from behind.
A straight, confident start is an important skill to have in your biking arsenal. It will help you get off the line safely, and ahead of traffic.
Even with lots of mirrors, they’re essentially driving blind. You should always give these vehicles a wide berth. The same goes for anything with a trailer.
If you fall and land on your handlebars and do not have plugs you could end up taking a core sample of yourself. Prevent this from happening. Having handlebar plugs, could save your life.
Cyclists must obey virtually the same signs and rules of the road as vehicles. Plus you don’t want to give drivers any reason to be aggressive toward you or the opportunity to blame you for a crash.
Remember to have fun while biking. You’re not checking your phone, you’re completely offline. This is an incredible opportunity to clear your head and get to know your city in a new way. If you participate in Bike to Work Day, please let us know how it went in the comments below.