Riding Around Town
Commuting by Bike
When designing your bike commute, remember the importance of simplicity. By putting a bit of planning into your daily commute, you can save yourself stress down the road and allow you to enjoy your daily ride. Here are some tips to help you design your bike commute so that it is as stress free and enjoyable as possible.
- Ensure your bike is reliable. Regular bike maintenance and riding a simple bike reduce mechanical problems on the road. When choosing a bike for commuting it may be best to look first for reliability and simplicity instead of a fancy ride with all the bells and whistles. Not only is a simpler bike more reliable, but it can also cost less and be less of a target for thieves as well.
- Check your bike regularly for maintenance issues. When you are riding your bike everyday and in all kinds of weather, you will need to do periodic maintenance on your bike. See the section on Bicycle Maintenance (link).
- Carry flat repair gear and know how to change a flat tire. Always carry the tools necessary to change a flat tire including an extra tube, tire levers, patch kit, pump and hex wrenches and always keep it on your bike. If you are not comfortable changing tires, contact one of the local bike shops for assistance. Many shops are happy to demonstrate how to change a tire and some even offer classes on basic bicycle maintenance.
- Plan your route carefully. Often times the best bicycling routes are not the same routes that you would drive. The extensive trail system in Lincoln may also be able to play a part in your daily commute.
- Plan where to park your bike. Many employers offer locations to lock up your bike or bring your bike into your office. Check out the section on Locking you Bike (link to locking your bike section)
- Always wear a helmet. A bike helmet can only protect you if you wear it.
- Use lights and reflectors. Even if you do not plan to ride at night, it is still a good idea to have a white from headlight and red taillight on your bike in case of inclement weather or of your plans change and you have to ride and dawn or dusk. Plus, it is law in Lincoln to have your bike equipped with a headlight and taillight. It is also a good idea to increase you visibility by having plenty of reflectors both on your bike and bags as well as on your clothing.
- Use a rack, bags (panniers), baskets and/or a backpack. In order to keep your hands free to steer, use the bell and signal, it is best to place all your daily items in a separate bag which attaches to your rack (pannier), basket or a backpack. There are also many strap bags (messenger bags) which are made specifically for biking and allow maximum flexibility. It is also possible to strap things down to a rack. If you need to carry heavy loads, consider using a trailer.
- Dress appropriately. Check the weather nightly to make sure you have all the necessities for the day. If the weather is supposed to be cool or cold (link to winter riding), dress in layers which adequately wick moisture from your body and keep you warmer. In addition, if the forecast is calling for rain, ensure you have a rain coat and potentially rain pants and a water proof helmet cover. Eye protection may also be important to protect your eyes from the sun, rain and wind.
- Stay hydrated. Regardless of the temperature, it is important to stay hydrated and drink lots of water.
- Leave essentials at your office, if possible. If you work in an office where you can store some essentials, doing so can not only save you weight in your bags and organizing time each morning, but can make your commutes much simpler. If, for example, you need to wear office attire during the day, leave your shoes, belts and other toiletry items which you would use every day. If your employer offers showering facilities, you may be able to leave much more. No need to daily carry them back and forth.