Rush hour blues

Rush hour traffic sucks and there’s a lot of it. According to a 2015 report from the Texas Transportation Institute, the average American spends 42 hours per year stuck in traffic. Biking to work is a great alternative, but it can be intimidating. Here are some steps you can take to make the transition to two wheels a lot smoother.

Route plan

There are lots of apps out there (google maps, mapmyride, etc.), but you can still get lost. One way to avoid this is to practice your route on a weekend. That way when you do it for real there’s no risk of a wrong turn causing you to arrive late.

Basic mechanics

It’s worth learning how to fix a flat tire and purchasing some tire levers and a small pump. There are going to be some mechanical issues you can’t solve en route, but a flat shouldn’t be one of them. When disaster does strike, make sure you know where the nearest bike shops are ahead of time.

Gear

You don’t need a special bike, expensive clothes or the latest and greatest components to commute. A rack and panniers make it easier to carry stuff with you and a good set of bike shorts with a chamois can make a difference for comfort. A helmet, lights and a lock round out the essentials.

Weather

If you’re going to be an all-weather commuter, rain gear and cold weather clothes are obvious investments. You shouldn’t overlook the challenges of riding in the heat either. If your office doesn’t have on-site showers, consider purchasing a pack of wipes to help you clean up and cool off after warmer rides.

Packing

Don’t feel like schlepping your clothes every day? Try the bookend biking approach. Drive in on Monday with all the clothes you’ll need for the week. Bike Tuesday through Thursday, keeping everything you change out of at the office. Then, drive again Friday and bring everything home.

Locking up

Feeling confident that your ride will be there at the end of the day is not a detail to overlook. When you arrive at your office you’ll want a safe and secure place to lock your bike all day. It’s worth talking to your HR manager or someone in charge of the building to see if there’s an indoor space that can accommodate your bike.

Even if you do all this, you still might not be sure that bike commuting is for you. The good news is: you don’t have to go the whole distance five days a week to get a break from gridlock. Start with one day a week, or try a multi-modal approach and go halfway by bus. Work up to increased regularity in whatever way works for you.

Check out more ways Bikes Can Solve That.

One thought on “Rush hour blues

  1. 🙂 I park my bicycle inside the local hospital where I work in a relatively secure area with a decent U-lock and ten feet of cable.
    In the two years since I’ve been bicycle commuting, I never had any problems.
    Beware – in big cities bike thieves are everywhere.

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