Anybody will tell you that bicycling to work is great exercise, can save you money, and is good for the environment. But for many people, the very idea of commuting to work is daunting. You don’t have to be Lance Armstrong to bike to work. You can bike one day a week at first, then do more as you gain stamina.
Let’s look at some of the potential problems and possible solutions.
For most folks, a commute of less than five miles is reasonable. Give yourself about 35–40 minutes for a five-mile trip. If you’re in better physical condition, ten miles can be done, and should take less than an hour.
Keep in mind that bicycling can be combined with other transportation modes. Many public buses have special racks where riders can stash their bikes, then quickly remove them when they get off, and start pedaling again. If you ride the subway, you can ride to a subway stop, park your bike, and take the train the rest of the way.
Check out your workplace for a secure place to park bikes. Many buildings have bike parking areas, or little–used storage areas where you can get permission to park. Wherever you park your bike, make sure you lock it to a solidly grounded, stationary object.
Riding a bike through rush–hour traffic can be intimidating. So keep in mind that the car routes you’re familiar with may not be the best for bikers. Of course, bike paths and bike lanes on streets can be helpful.
When you’re starting out, try out your planned route on a weekend, when you’re not in a hurry and can explore a bit.
On hot days especially, you can work up a good sweat on your bike ride, so it’s smart to do some personal cleanup when you arrive at work. If your workplace has a shower, that’s the best choice. Otherwise, a couple of minutes in a restroom with a wet washcloth or some hand wipes and a freshly laundered shirt can help make you presentable.
Bicyclists are vulnerable, so ride carefully and defensively. Wear a helmet. Obey traffic laws and signals. Expect cars to do the unexpected. Riding during daylight is generally safer than riding at night, and if you ride after dark, use lights and reflectors.
Bicycle to work, and you’ll soon notice all kinds of benefits — improved cardio fitness, easier weight control, and money in your pocket that you’re not spending on gas, tolls, and parking fees.