The Beginning of Being Driven to Bike

As the weather becomes colder and the leaves begin to change color, I am reminded of the first time when I seriously considered bike commuting.  It was an early morning on a normal workday in the fall of 2011.  When I went to start my Jeep, the engine was completely silent.  In disbelief, I tried again, but there was nothing happening.  Defeated, I called AAA and had the Jeep hauled to the local auto body shop for a repair.

After sulking around my apartment, I remember lying on the couch, upset and not knowing what I was going to do.  I hated that I had to take a personal day just to deal with another car repair.  I was worried and kept thinking, “Should I buy a new car?”  and “How was I going to pay for all of this?”  Finding a job closer to home was not an option and I had to figure out the best way to save money and prolong the life of my current car.

I then asked myself, “What is the most reliable form of transportation?”

The first thing that came to mind was a bicycle.

My train of thought was interrupted when the mechanic called me back to say that the expensive repairs (battery and crankshaft) would be completed that same day.  I asked the mechanic what he thought about me getting a new car.  He told me that no matter what car I would drive, it wouldn’t last 5 years the way I was using it to commute to work and drive around on the weekends.  This information solidified my desire to give biking a try.

With the help of the internet, I immediately began researching what kind of bike would be best for me.  I hadn’t ridden a bike since college and I would rollerblade to lab, but since everything on campus was so close, I never even considered having a bike.  I then thought about the sheer distance of biking 20 miles.  This put me in the category of “extreme commuter” and I didn’t know anyone else that had biked that distance for commuting.  Only a few websites existed of people commuting 20 miles or more on a bike.  I felt discouraged, but convinced myself that I could transport myself to work and back home. Bringing the bike on public transportation was an option, so that lessened my anxiety about doing it.

That same weekend, I went with my boyfriend (now husband) to the local bicycle shop.  I think he thought I was crazy, but entertained my idea anyway.  In the corner were many bikes on clearance.  I  test rode two of them, the smallest men’s bikes that they had.   I eventually settled on a Raleigh hybrid and also had a rear rack installed.  The total came out to be roughly $400, a great deal compared to what I was paying for in car repairs and for something functional and reliable.

Now nearly three years later, I still ride that original bike and I have committed myself to bicycle commuting whenever I can.

Bike commuting allowed me to free myself from being dependent on an automobile.  This means biking not only to work, but also to local shops and restaurants. The amount of money I have saved and the amount of exercise I get has benefitted me tremendously.  What began as a frustration of dealing with a car repair turned into something that changed my life and my way of thinking about transportation forever.

Logistics of bike commuting 20 miles

Bike commuting is a part time job and planning is key.

I found that it was more difficult figuring out the logistics of bike commuting than dealing with the physical stamina to bike 20+ miles each day.  There is definitely a period of adjustment, but I eventually figured out what worked for me.  Some women have concerns about their safety and appearance, but if guys didn’t seem to worry about it, then I never thought that I should too.  I’ve talked to many male and female bike commuters, and we share similar issues and experiences.

I prefer arriving to work as early as possible, because traffic on the road is much lighter and also because then I have time to change and recover before starting my work day.

 

Here is breakdown of a typical bike commute day:

4:15-5am Wake up, coffee already brewing

5:40-5:45am Leave to catch the train out of the city

6:20 am Bike 8 miles to work from train stop

7:00 am Arrive at work

7:30am: Ready to work

4pm-5pm catch train into city or bike all the way home

5:30-6:30pm Arrive back at home

This may seem like a long day, but I have time to read on the train, get in my exercise and contribute to my well-being.  I am also saving a lot of money by not driving and reducing car maintenance costs.

 

To significantly cut down on items I need to bring to work, and to make things easier,

I keep a few things in my desk drawer:

Hairdryer

Shampoo/Conditioner

Comb

Brushes

Cosmetics

Hair products

Deodorant

Baby wipes

Work shoes so I can avoid carrying their heavy weight.

 

The night before

Preparation the night before makes the morning less stressful.  My bag is packed with clothes I have prepared for the next day.  I make sure I have my lunch prepped and ready to go in the refrigerator so I can grab it in the morning before I leave.  Coffee is preground and programmed to brew before I wake up.

 

What I wear while commuting

I commute in athletic clothing because I feel it is more comfortable and it is available in bright colors so that I am more visible to drivers on the road.   I prefer to do a full clothing change when I get to work.

Because I bike a long distance, I don’t bother putting on any makeup before going to work.  What’s the use when I’m going to be sweating for awhile and who am I really going to be seeing before the workday?  Everyone is half awake on the train and people aren’t really interested in talking to you that early in the morning anyway.

 

Transporting supplies

I have a bike (hybrid) with a rear rack so that I can bungee cord my backpack to it.  I also have a road bike which has no rack, so I must carry the items I’m bringing to work in my messenger bag.   My backpack and messenger bag are sufficient to fit my clothes, purse, and lunches.  I’ve never used panniers and don’t feel the need for them since I board the train or bus and need to carry my belongings on me.

Morning loads are always heavier due to the weight of the lunch and snacks I have packed for the day.  I use a thermal bag to keep my food cool because my commutes to work can be as long as 2 hours.

Clothes- I like to roll up my clothes so that they do not come out wrinkled.  I keep a couple of spare clothing items at work in case I forget.  In the summer I usually like to pack a set of clothes and bring them to work a day before I need them, otherwise they feel hot from the morning commute in.  That way, when I change into my clothes they are refreshingly cool.

 

Appearance and hygiene

I feel that other women are really concerned about their appearance and fuss over this area the most.   It really doesn’t have to be an ordeal if you allow yourself enough time to get ready.

My company’s dress code is business casual and my workplace does not have a shower.  Because I arrive early enough, I guarantee that I can cool off  and then stop sweating while reading e-mail and drinking some whey protein.  Then I can have one of the bathrooms to myself and change.   Because I have showered before bike commuting, all I have to do is use baby wipes to clean off.  I wash my hair in the sink to complete my preparation for the day.  All of this takes no more than 20 minutes.

 

Hair

Taming my hair after biking became an ordeal. When I first started commuting I had longer shoulder length hair so it was easier to fold it over and tuck into my helmet and it would survive the commute.  With my shorter hair now, I seem to get a helmet line circulating my head.  Humid days are the worst.   I eventually decided to just wash my hair at work since I never like the feeling of a sweaty head.  If your hairstyle can survive the commute, then that’s great, it never did for me.

I’ve used several texturizing creams to combat the effects of helmet head.  They were all sufficient to make me look presentable.

One product that I did like that re-fluffed my hair was a hair potion.

I could sprinkle it on my head and my hair would regain its volume where my hair had been matted by the helmet.

 

“Cheating”

On days when I do not bike commute I try to bring as much stuff for the next few days. This includes snacks, clothes and any toiletries that are running low.

Now that I am more optimized and confident in my commuting, I prefer to haul as much as I can on Mondays and Tuesdays so that I have less to carry at the end of the week when I am worn down and more likely to forget things.  I’ll use my heavier hybrid bike for this, as I can strap more stuff to my rear rack.

 

Bike maintenance

I clean and re-lube my chain on the weekends if I’ve bike commuted all week.

I re-inflate my tires 2x a week.

I maintain a good relationship with my local bike shop in case of repairs or questions.  When I only had one bike, I was in there about every month asking questions about every little thing.  With time, you get to know your bike more and can do repairs by yourself.  Now I no longer need to go to the bike shop when I have a flat and understand more of where the squeaks and cracks are coming from.

Making sure your bike is in good working condition will enable you to get the most out of your ride everytime.

So that’s how I go about bike commuting.  It may be harder or easier based on your needs, but once you have your routine set, biking to work becomes easy.

2014 Bike Commuter Challenge

The Active Transportation Alliance’s Bike Commuter Challenge ended last Friday, and I wanted to share some of my thoughts. Overall it was a very positive experience, and I had a lot of fun being captain and inspiring people to at least think about bike commuting. I’m very proud of my team for putting in such a tremendous effort.

I found out about this through a brochure I had received for Bike The Drive, another event in which I had a lot of fun. Since I already enjoy bike commuting and do it as much as possible, I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to let my coworkers know about a fun challenge to bike commute. Registration was free, but I donated a bit to Active Transportation to show my support.

 

Forming the Team

I sent out an email the Friday before the start of the event to interest people in the challenge. It was well received, with people talking about wanting to join, or asking me how I go about commuting on a bike. Ultimately, our team consisted of five people, all of whom gave their best effort. One person had good intentions but could not ride due to family obligations, but the rest of us really cranked out the miles.

The Challenge

We endured carrying our lunches, change of clothing, heavy U-locks and rode through bad weather (rain, humidity, tornado warnings, heat) to make it through the 6 days.  We ate “healthier”, needed more sleep and paced ourselves for the duration of the challenge. As a team, we found the strength to make it through by asking each other about our rides, talking about our strategies and anticipating weather patterns. We rode as much as possible, but set realistic goals for ourselves. If the demands of work or family were too much, then it was OK not to ride in. If the weather looked uninviting, then it was better to be safe than sorry.

As captain, I felt I had to be mentally strong and ride everyday to set an example to others that it was possible, even on bad weather days when I normally would not commute. I also sent out some emails offering encouragement with some tips. My coworkers and I were really lucky the worst of the weather seemed to hit while we were all still at work. I only got drizzled on twice.

What also excited me was that one of the ladies on the team used this challenge as motivation to finally try commuting to work. She had thought about it and finally decided to make the plunge. Thinking back to when I first tried bike commuting, I would’ve loved to have been part of a group.

Team Results

As of this writing, we had 14.5 trips, for a total of 384.6 miles and a 2.7% participation rate. The trip log will not be closed until June 30th, so we’ll have to see when the numbers are locked down.

At a total of 384.6 miles, this came out to be 384.6 miles/5= 76.92 miles/rider, which looking at the stats, is the highest among any company in Chicagoland. This ranks us 23rd out of 86 companies in the “For Profit 100-499 Employees” category. This is truly impressive for such a small team, and reflects the tremendous individual effort of each rider.

Personal Results

Individually, I am 14th out of 6000+ riders overall in terms of miles. I also believe that I am the top ranked female in terms of distance (188.4 miles). These are all verified miles using the Strava Mobile app on June 13th, and June 16-20th.

I rode everyday of the challenge but was unable to bike as much as I wanted to on Thursday, June 19th.   The Metra did not allow me and two other bicyclists to board the train as there were already too many bikes exceeding their capacity.  It was disappointing since I had intended on biking at least 30 miles a day.  That meant taking the train in the morning and then biking to work, and then biking the entire 20 miles back home.  I learned this week from a conductor that Metra had been swapping out their cars for some reason and they had given the train I take two cars which didn’t allow bikes.  It just doesn’t make sense why Metra decided to do this during Bike to Work week.

I could’ve waited for another train, but that required waiting another hour for the next one and I didn’t want to risk having the same situation. I could’ve biked all the way to work, but had not mentally prepared myself for the distance, and also felt uneasy about biking in the drizzling weather. Defeated, I decided to turn back home and drive (boo!) to work. Friday I made up for it by biking 57 miles and finished strong.
As I was nearing the end of my final ride for the week, I was having so much fun and going very fast that I wasn’t really paying attention and hit a speed bump so hard that it caused a flat in my front tire. Luckily, it was the last block before home.


Overall, this event was very satisfying and highlights the fact that many people are willing to give bike commuting a try. If you see how many people signed up and entered their stats on the website, it is very encouraging. I am a true believer that participation in events such as this make people realize that bike commuting is a viable means of transportation. With time, people’s perception of biking will change for the better.

Finding a safe route

Biking to your destination is different than driving there. Plan your bike commute around your usual route, but seek out quieter roads and avoid the major ones. Ride on roads that you feel comfortable on. I would avoid very busy or narrow roads so that there is enough space between you and the cars. I also avoid intersections which are “dangerous”, such as when there are angle streets intersecting with other busy streets. For my 20 mile commutes to and from work, I know of several routes. They are mainly on roads which parallel busier roads, or shortcuts through residential neighborhoods. In the city, busier roads can be hectic, but once you understand the flow of traffic and other bicyclists sharing the lane with you, then it is not so bad.

You can drive the route you want to take to familiarize yourself, but there is no substitute for actually biking the route. I suggest biking the route at a less busy time so that you can understand the traffic flow and judge how much spacing you have between yourself and cars. If you don’t have the time to bike the route before you commute for real, just take your time when you first try it out. As an alternative, “drive” the route by using Google Maps, but don’t depend on Google Maps to tell you which route is safe by clicking on the bicycle route option and seeing roads appear in green. Most of the time it is ok, but you really don’t know. I once trusted a route Google Maps suggested, but it turned out that during rush hour, cars didn’t want to give me space. The same road at 6am is safe to bike on, but in the evening rush hour it is not. Bike paths are OK if you are not going very fast or want a more leisurely ride, but you will find that quieter roads will allow you to travel more quickly.

The diagram below gives a cartoon version of the idea:
WhichRoad

Roads
You will want to consider the conditions of the roads. You’ll want to watch out for cracks and bumps in the pavement. Wider roads will allow you to have more space between you and the cars and I avoid narrow roads unless the speed limit is very low or with speed bumps. Also pay attention to when construction on roads will happen, as you’ll need to plan for an alternative route.

Public Transportation
If you live far from work, don’t feel like you have to bicycle the whole way. I live 20 miles away from work and found that a bike-train-bike mode of transport is great.
Go ahead and use public transportation to break up the route and bypass roads. The CTA and Metra have restrictions on bikes based on the time of day and which way you are traveling, so check their websites before you decide to bring your bike.
Once you become more fit, you may realize that you can eventually bike the whole distance and save yourself some cash.

Closing thoughts:
By knowing your main route along with other alternative routes, you can be flexible and handle any unexpected situation. Finding a safe route makes your commute easier by minimizing stress so that you can fully enjoy your ride. Once you are comfortable with your route you can use that knowledge to your advantage. For instance, on hot summer days, I know which route can offer me the best shade. I also remember certain houses which have their sprinklers go off near the street so that I can ride through the spray and be momentarily cooled.
Once you get your route down, the amount of time it takes you to bike commute will be fairly consistent. Don’t listen to people who say they can ride xx distance in xx time. You could be faster or slower, depending on the traffic and how hard you want to ride. Also, bike commuting is not a race. Take your time, follow the traffic rules, and BE SAFE!

The Cubicle as a Rest Stop

Think of your cubicle as a rest stop between your bike commutes. It’s where you can recuperate and prepare for the ride home.

My cubicle is not the most spacious in the company, but it is big enough. I’d say it is 5’x8’, which was nearly the size of my dorm room back in college. Between my piles of paper and a computer and phone, there is still plenty of room to store stuff in file cabinets and drawers above and below my desk. I devote half of my storage space for bike commuting items and the other half to work-related items.

If you are lucky, you may even store your bike in your cube until HR tells you not to. I don’t because it is a hassle for me to wheel it through the cube farm and through the security doors.

 

Here’s what I keep handy:

 

Food and Drink
When I’m not in lab doing experiments, I eat and hydrate as much as possible while I’m doing paperwork in the cube. It’s important to take care of yourself throughout the workday to maintain your energy. You need to be focused when you leave, so take every opportunity you can to sneak in a snack and drink liquids.

I have one drawer dedicated to all of the snacks that I have. This includes tea, crackers, fruit snacks, Gatorade, an emergency can of sardines, and whey powder that I drink in the morning. I also have some spare change in case I need a sugar boost from the vending machine. I keep a mug and a drinking glass at work.

 

Clothes and cosmetics
I bring a change of clothes everyday, but you could certainly stash them at the start of the workweek if you wanted to.

Bringing shoes to and from work is very exhausting due to their weight and space that they take up, so I have a drawer dedicated to work shoes. I also keep a hairdryer, shampoo, baby wipes and cosmetics to help me look presentable.
You may also benefit from simple first-aid items such as band-aids and antiseptic spray, in case of a fall or accidental cut.

 

Bike supplies
I have a spare bike pump and patch kit in a large drawer in case my bike tire goes flat. I also have a bottle of chain lube in case I’ve biked through rain in the morning and have time to lubricate my chain during the lunch hour.

 

Other use of space:
The only things I don’t keep in my drawers are my bag, helmet and clothes that I commute in. I hang up my clothes to let them air out during the workday.

 

I like to hang up my bright clothes to let them dry out and also to blind my co-workers.
Bright clothes to blind my co-workers.

National Bike to Work Day: May 16, 2014

There’s a reason why Chicago’s Bike to Work Day isn’t held in May, but in June. I really wanted to bicycle the whole 20 miles to work on Friday, but the weather looked too gloomy and the Doppler radar on the morning news confirmed the least favorite weather condition I like to bike in: rain. So I took the train out of the city to minimize my time dealing with wet roads.

I really hate riding in the rain. I could get fenders, but why add more weight to my bike? It’s OK if the weather is warmer and I get soaked into work. I just deal with being completely wet and do a full clothing change and wash my hair in the sink. By the time I’m ready to go home, all of my clothes hanging in my cubicle are dry.

But COLD rain? At 38 degrees? Not fun. When I got off the train it started to drizzle. No problem, so I doubled gloved, turned on all of my lights and went on my way. 20 minutes into my commute, it started raining, and then that’s when I knew I needed to pedal faster to increase my body heat. As an added bonus, I had to bike an extra 2 miles using an alternate route since the sidewalk path I use was blocked off due to railroad construction. Luckily the wind was light and there was little traffic on the roads.

When I was a few miles away from work, it started snowing and I literally started screaming. After the horrible Chicago winter we had, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I was even more motivated to pedal faster and push my way through the cold.

It was miserable. The sky was dark, and I could feel the weight of the wetness dragging me down. When I finally arrived at work, it was more a sense of relief. What a way to start the day and be fully awake!

After I had warmed up and changed out of my wet clothes, I felt a great sense of accomplishment that I was able to handle the 10 miles in the cold rain and bit of snow. Each time I push myself further, I see what is possible and how to optimize for a similar trip in the future.

After hearing from my co-workers about how bad traffic was (since people were staring at the snow bewildered and driving slowly), I was glad that I didn’t drive and participated in Bike to Work day.

Bike arrives before cars early in the morning.
Bike arrives before cars early in the morning.

Staying Safe

Safety should be your number one priority when bike commuting.  If you’re going to ride around all timid thinking you’ll be run over, then you will be.  It is up to you to be ASSERTIVE and take your place on the road.  What follows is a quick overview of the basics.

 

Plan your route as well as alternative ones

A well planned route avoids heavy traffic on major streets and parallels your normal commute.  Google Maps, especially in street view can help guide your planning, but always use your best judgement and scope out the route ahead of time if you can.

One day, construction might shut down the road you usually take.  Do you know an alternative route?

 

Listen to your body and mind first

If you don’t want to bike commute that day then don’t.  You may be too tired, or just not in the mood.  If there is bad weather (thunderstorms, icy conditions), then wait until the weather clears up.

 

Wear a helmet

You want to protect your head in case of an accident.  They do not have to be expensive and many give your head enough ventilation.  Your local bike shop should carry a wide selection of helmets that you can choose from.

I wear an urban type helmet since it completely encases my head.  It’s colorful and I know it grabs the attention of motorists when I’m riding around.

Another advantage to wearing a helmet is that you can place reflective tape on it and mount lights on the helmet for safety at night.

I don’t really see any downsides to a helmet. You can ride without one, but why take the risk?

 

Obey traffic lights and stop signs 

Running red lights and blowing through stop signs is dangerous and makes you look bad.  I do advocate for slowing down and coasting through stop signs if there is not much traffic since it is hard to build up your momentum again after coming to a complete stop.  Just be sure the cars around you understand you are doing this and proceed with caution.

 

Ride predictably

By behaving like a vehicle, you gain the respect of motorists and pedestrians.  This means obeying traffic signals, staying off the sidewalk and signaling to make your intentions known.   So ride with the flow of traffic, not against it.  Ride in a straight line, but do not ride so close to the curb you become invisible.   Riding near the curb also makes you more vulnerable to getting flat tires due to road debris and potholes.

Don’t ride on the sideWALK.  You’re not going to get anywhere since you will be going so slow and going over bumpy curbs on every block.  A car may pull out of a driveway without looking, or a driver turning at an intersection may not have enough time to react to a bicycle suddenly crossing its path.  Riding on sidewalks sets you up for being run over and it’s something young kids do.  You’re grown up now and know better.

The only exception is where there is a sidewalk next to a road with a high (40+  mph) speed limit, where there is hardly any pedestrian traffic and a minimal chance that cars could pull out of driveways from businesses or houses.  I would personally find another route if possible, but if you are stuck in suburban hell, then this may be difficult to do.

Signaling your intentions is key when you are negotiating traffic.  This is your chance to communicate to other drivers that I am HERE and I want to go THERE.

If you have bad balance or are scared of signaling with your left or right arm, practice in an alley or a parking lot before you go out on the road.   Signaling your intentions eventually becomes natural.

Riding predictably gives drivers the chance to see you and respond to you better.

 

Rely on your senses

LISTEN and LOOK to be aware of your surroundings.  Be mentally sharp and pay attention to everything.

Make eye contact with drivers and make sure they have seen you.  They may be looking “past you” or just be staring out into space daydreaming.  Signal to them with your hand that you are turning or going straight.  It’s better to be sure you’ve really made eye contact than to proceed and be hit.

Gauge how fast traffic is going.  Be able to look behind your left shoulder to check for cars coming behind you and about to pass you. I don’t use mirrors since I feel that it gives you a false sense of  security and does not give you the full view of what is actually going on behind you.

Also be aware of distracted drivers and distance yourself from their path if you can.

 

Be visible

The easiest way to do this is to wear bright colored clothing, preferably with some reflective striping on them.

You’ll also want to invest in some front and rear lights for when you ride in the dark or when the weather turns bad.

You’ve probably seen some cyclists with varying degrees of flashing lights.  There are some lights which I find obnoxious since they are too bright or have a seizure-inducing flashing pattern.  Typically, any light which has the same amount of brightness as a car headlight and tail light will do.  I started off with a cheap 25 dollar tactical light I duct taped to my head.   I also bought a rear blinky at the local bike shop.  What was important was that these were bright enough and had a distinct pattern of flashing light.

Take a look at how people park their cars in parking lots.  You’ll see people parked over the lines and too close to other cars.  Their sense of spacing is totally off.   So imagine when you are sharing the road with them.  You want to be able to catch their attention so that you can give them fair warning you are on the road.

At busy intersections, I stand up on my pedals so that people can see me better.   This way, everybody sees me making my move.

 

Riding in bad weather

I check weather forecasts at weather.gov, weather.com and weatherspark.com for my city and region.  I also watch the morning news to confirm that no unexpected weather changes occurred while I was sleeping.

Avoid bad weather if you can, but as stated above, the most important thing is to be visible.  Take it slow and be aware of the vehicles around you.  Safety glasses are great for riding in the rain as they protect your eyes from droplets and help you see better since you can easily wipe off the water from the lenses.  Think of them as windshields.

Why commute by bike?

Why commute by bike?

If you feel trapped by your car or public transportation, try bike commuting.  This may seem like an extreme measure, but with every commute it becomes easier.  Regardless of the length of the bike ride, these are my top reasons for commuting.

 

It saves money:    

When you factor in how much it costs to maintain and save up money to buy a car, pay for parking, deal with tickets or fines, and the cost of public transportation, the percentage of your income devoted to traditional commuting can be quite expensive.

Aside from upfront costs of owning a bike (if you don’t already have one) and the occasional purchases and repairs of bike equipment, bike commuting can be financially empowering.

For the security, freedom and peace of mind, bike commuting can prevent you from going into, and getting out of debt, all the while helping you save for your future.

Money that would’ve have been spent fueling your vehicle or taking public transportation can be better spent on other aspects of your life.

 

It saves time:  

You already need to get to work or whatever your destination might be, so why not use a bike?   Most people can pedal ~10 mph when they first start out.   I was a slowpoke and could only do about 8 mph when I began commuting.

For shorter distances of less than 5 miles, biking may be faster.  In some instances biking may be slower and this may increase proportionally with the distance traveled, but take into account the time needed to generate income to pay for a gym membership, or for a car repair due to heavy use.

Bicycling can also decrease you dependence on driving and public transportation, both of which can be time drains.

My one way commutes are 20 miles each way, and at the end of summer when I am most physically fit, I can bike this distance in an hour and 35 minutes. I remember driving the same distance multiple times when there has been heavy traffic due to construction, an accident, or an event in the city and it would take me 2 hours to get home.

Where I live, public transportation is highly inconvenient not only due to the schedule at which trains and buses are available,  but also because trains or buses arrive late or are delayed.  With a bicycle, you can bypass this nonsense and arrive at your destination in a very predictable amount of time.

 

Bus ride vs. bicycling example:

A bus ride will cost $2.25 one way for a 40 minute, 7 mile trip to the train station whereas I can bicycle the same distance.   Assuming my operating cost on the bike is $0.20/mile= $1.40, it only takes me 35 minutes.  I know my route very well and obey the stop sign and traffic signals and have always arrived at the train station within 35 minutes.  Time and money are both saved due to bicycling.

 

It keeps you healthy:

Staying in shape is easy when you incorporate bike commuting into your daily lifestyle.  It’s cardiovascular exercise, and unlike running, you can coast and take a breather when you need to- all the while traveling to where you need to go.

Your clothes will fit better and your legs and arms will definitely become more toned.  You will have more energy to do things throughout the day.  It improves your mental capacity and mood so that you are able to deal with stress better.

Bicycling also improves your sleep quality by helping you fall asleep faster, giving you a more restful night’s rest to recharge yourself for the next day.

 

It’s fun

If you didn’t know this, then maybe you should ride a bike and try again.  Naturally, if you enjoy bicycling, then you will enjoy bike commuting.

What do you need to commute by bike?

What do you need to commute by bike?

You’ll only need a few items:

– Bike

– Helmet

– Backpack or bag to hold items

That’s it. No need for fancy apparel, clipless pedals,specialized bike shoes, or a super high end bike and expensive panniers.   More expensive items can help, but with time you will eventually figure out what is best for your commute.

Starting out, I used old gym shoes and athletic wear for my workouts, and a hybrid bike that I purchased on clearance.  I used a helmet that I already had, and a backpack to carry my change of clothes, lunch and purse for the workday.   This was sufficient for my 10+ mile commutes to and from the the train station.  Years later, the only thing different is my helmet which had to be replaced since it was getting nasty.