Monday, May 16 2022 is the kick-off of the League of American Bicyclists National Bike-to-Work week, culminating in Bike-to-Work day on Friday, May 20th.
We want you to be successful riding to work, whether it's your very first time or you're already an experienced bicycle commuter. Take a look at these tips for pulling off Bike-to-Work week with ease.
1. Find the best route
Don't guess about the best bicycle route between home and your workplace. We've not got excellent tools to help you plan safe, fast, and effective bicycle routes.
Google Maps is one of my favorites. You can use it on your desktop computer or in app form on your mobile phone. Enter your starting and ending address, and click the bicycle icon to toggle to "bike mode" - Google will give you a route optimzed for bikes, avoiding hills, tunnels, stairs, and poor road conditions.
In some ares you'll even be able to see how much climbing and descending is along the route. This can be useful for deciding which bike to ride, if you own more than one. A powerful eBike is a great choice on hilly routes, especially when carrying the extra load of a laptop, lunch, and change of clothes.
Want to explore further? There are many other great app-based tools to help you find safe routes. Check our full list. Don't miss another favorite, Strava, which features local heatmaps, so you can see the routes commonly used by other riders in your region.
2. Carry everything to make common repairs
Getting stranded due to a mechanical problem (like a flat tire) on a recreational ride is a bummer, but not the end of the world. A mechanical during your morning commute, however, could make you late for a critical meeting or the start of your shift.
To prevent delays, make sure to carry everything needed for repair basics on your bicycle commute. That means:
- a pump that fits the valves used on your inner tubes
- spare tube(s) that fit your specific tires
- a patch kit
- tire levers
- a multi-tool with hex keys, screwdrivers, and other commonly needed tools
Note: make sure you carry the items needed to repair a flat tire, even if you don't know how to use them. A good samaritan may be able to help you, as long as you've got the right replacement inner tube for your specific bike.
3. Make a packing list
Laptop, charger, change of clothes, shower kit, food, drink, repair tools... when you're not in the habit of bicycle commuting, the list can seem overwhelming. Using a checklist before leaving home is a simple way to make sure you don't forget anything critical needed for your work day.
If you're not sure how to carry all these items on your bike, our resident eBike expert, Pete Prebus, put together some ideas for using racks, bags, backpacks, and trailers effectively. Whatever you need to carry on your eBike, there's a way!
4. Bring extra food and drink
If you ride to work, you won't have the flexibility of a car to leave the office for lunch. Make sure to pack what you'll need in advance. A padded, insulated lunch sack is a great way to make sure your lunch arrives in edible condition.
Don't forget that riding to work might spike your appetite more than driving, so pack some mid-day snacks as well.
If you're running out of space on your bike to carry lunch, meal delivery services like Uber Eats or Doordash can be a nice treat as an alternative. Although these app services are expensive, the money you'll save on gas and car wear-and-tear can more than offset their cost.
5. Freshen up
If you're lucky enough to work in an office with lockers and showers, you've hit the jackpot! You can bring a full shower kit to get cleaned up when you arrive for the work day.
Don't despair if showers aren't available. Refreshing wipes (available at Target or CVS) can wipe away road grime, sunscreen, and sweat, providing a refreshing feel and scent even when showers aren't available.
6. Don't forget to lock it up
Make sure to find a safe place to store your bike for the day. At some workplaces, that mean locking your bike in a dedicated shared bike rack or room. At others, street parking might be all that's available. If you ask nicely, some employers might allow you to bring your bike right to your office or cubicle (it is national Bike to Work day, after all!)
If you can't bring your bike to a secure location, don't forget your bike lock. U-Locks are the most secure type of locks in riskier locations. For the ultimate in security, use a U-Lock to secure the frame, and a cable lock to secure the wheels. If your bike uses a quick-release seatpost, it's easy to remove the saddle and seatpost, so bring it with you.
Riding an eBike? Ask in advance about potential charging locations. With a little luck, your employer may provide you a location where you can plug in your charger - you aren't taking up a parking space, after all!
7. Bring must-have items to work, in advance
Don't assume that you must carry EVERYTHING for work on your bike. There are other strategies that can help lighten your load. Some riders may want to go "car-light" instead of "car-free", for example. This allows you to reduce the financial and environmental impacts of driving, without going completely car-free. When you're car-light, you can still use your car occassionally, but replace some or most of your trips with an eBike.
Consider bringing a week's worth of clean work clothes to the office on Monday by car, for example. Since you're driving, might as well pack several lunches, all your shower supplies, and so on. Ride your eBike to and from work on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, then drive your car on Friday to carry all the dirty laundry home. This type of blended commute lifestyle provides many of the benefits of bicycle riding, without cutting out car travel completely.
8. Share your experiences with others
We at Bike.com hope you have a safe, enjoyable experience riding to work. Share your rides with #BikeThere and #BikeMonth so we can keep up with your efforts, and good luck!
Want to explore more National Bike Month events? Check this article to find events near you.