Bike to Work: Tips for Your First Commute

On your drive into work, have you ever noticed a cyclist obviously commuting and admired that person? Have you thought it would be cool to ride your bike to work, or home from the office? Perhaps it's crossed your mind that bike commuting not only helps the environment and saves gas money; but it could help you stay fit, healthy and burn a few extra calories.

Despite some worthy reasons to ride your bike to work, there never seems to be a good time to start. So why not start now? Lots of people commute on their bicycles, why not you?

Even if you commute only a handful of times, it's better than none at all. To help you get rolling, here are 13 tips for commuting on your bike:

1. Begin with an achievable distance.

If you live only a few miles from work, it is conceivable that you can commute both ways on the first day. If you live several miles from work, and the commute will take you some 45 to 60 minutes or more, consider hitching a ride with a co-worker to get to the office, then ride home. Make the distance doable for you; don't worry about what other people might be doing. 

2. Start with an achievable frequency.

Sure it sounds good that you're turning over a new leaf and you have grand plans to commute to and from work every day, but is that goal achievable immediately? Begin by setting a goal to commute one to three times per week. After you can consistently achieve success, add more commuting segments or days.

3. Wear a helmet.

In the unlikely case of an accident, you want to protect your head and all those great ideas.

4. Wear clothing that can easily be seen by motorists.

If you are commuting in early morning or late evening hours, wear reflective gear and put a flashing tail light on your bike. For daylight commuting wear bright colors that can easily be seen by motorists.

5. Don't make a big deal out of special clothes and gear.

Depending on the distance of your commute, you might be able to commute in your work clothes. Some commutes are workouts and other commutes are more practical in nature.

When I was in the Italian city of Ferrara, I saw women riding bikes to work in business suits with a brief case strapped to the luggage rack. They were wearing low pumps and using platform pedals. Bike commuting appeared to be commonplace.

6. Consider cycling shorts.

If your commute is longer than 20 or 30 minutes, you will probably be more comfortable in cycling shorts. Cycling shorts eliminate that intersection of seams that meet right where you are putting your torso on the bike seat. Pressure and friction can make this area really uncomfortable when cycling longer distances. Cycling shorts (worn without underwear) can significantly improve your comfort.

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