Starting a new job is exciting and there is a lot of learning that goes on in the first few weeks, including how to commute by bike. The distance to my new job is significantly shorter (still 20 + miles if I bike to and from work). At my previous job, I didn’t start biking until 6 months in. That was because I didn’t consider bike commuting to be an option and didn’t have a bike. These are no longer barriers and it will be fun to plan my first bike commute. Right now, things are extremely busy so I am not able to bike commute until I am comfortable in my role. However, I have been observant and taken steps to plan for my new commute so that it will be less stressful. The following are a few things I’ve considered before I start biking to work.
Finding other bike commuters
Since I’m new and my organization is larger, it will take some time for me to find the other bicycle commuters that I have heard about. Therefore, I need to go with my gut feeling. If a conversation ever flows to the topic of biking, then I will bring it up. I already know my boss is OK with me biking, and it seems that people have a favorable attitude towards it. This has lessened my worries about how I would be perceived biking to work.
Planning the route
While driving to work, I take notice of the traffic patterns in the early morning. When bicycle commuting, I will probably be on the road an hour before the morning rush really hits. I had some time before my job started and actually test biked one of the routes I would typically take. Thankfully, I can avoid the busy roads and take a more scenic route. Previously, I had to bike commute on a stretch of road that was 35 mph where car drivers would speed and didn’t know how to share the road. One advantage I have is that I am already familiar with the area.
Finding a place for bike parking
I still need to find a discreet location to park my bike. An out of the way pole or fence may be an option. As long as it doesn’t get in anyone’s way, or violate company policy, then it’s fine.
Bringing items to work
Everyday I bring items from home that I can stash in my drawers at my office. I used to have a cubicle and had to make good use of the space I had. Now I am spoiled since my storage space has doubled. Things that I’ll bring before my first commute include:
1) Extra clothes. My dress code is now business formal, so I’ll probably bring an outfit before my first commute. I will also test folding and rolling up my clothes to see how wrinkled they get.
2) Food, snacks = salt and sweets
3) Bicycle pump and new inner tubes. Yes, I have these in case my tire goes flat and I need to repair it. I have had instances where I’ve rode to work but didn’t know I got a flat on the morning commute and then couldn’t ride home.
4) Hygiene prep products- baby wipes, shampoo, hairdryer, towel, cosmetics etc.
Being physically ready
My physical stamina has decreased significantly after this harsh Chicago winter. I have only been biking on the weekends and this contributes to my stamina, even though it’s only short trips or a fun ride. I will have to deal with the increased fatigue (sore butt + legs) until my body becomes used to the process of bike commuting again. If things become unmanageable, I can always hop on the train or bus to give myself a break.
With these things in mind, I know that I will be setting myself up for a successful first commute. It also helps to see that more people are bike commuting and it isn’t as strange as when I started a few years ago. I do look forward to the day when I turn into the parking lot on my bike instead of my car.