Get Yourself Ready to Bike to Work

Bike to Work Day (BTWD) is coming up Thursday, May 8, 2014, and the Company Bike Challenge runs all May. Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist or a new rider, we have some tips and tricks that will help you and your colleagues prepare for Bike to Work Day.

Let the Countdown Begin! 

Commuters in Palo Alto, CA, Courtesy of Richard Masoner at Cyclelicious

APRIL 1st – 4 Weeks before Bike to Work Month:

  • Get your bike helmet ready: Find your bike helmet or buy one if you don’t have one. Make sure it is adjusted to fit properly. Consult the manual and look for adjusting tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
  • Find, borrow, or buy a bike: Find your bike! If you don’t have one, frequent cyclists often have an extra bike so asking to borrow one for Bike to Work Day is one option. If you plan to ride more frequently, another option is to invest in buying a dependable bike.
  • Get bike ready: Pump up the tires and make sure they hold air. Adjust the seat so it is at a comfortable height.  Make sure the bike isn’t too big or small for you to ride safely. Do a short test ride to make sure the bike rides smooth and brakes work. If repairs are needed, plan to make the repairs or take it to a shop a couple weeks in advance. Local shops are busy in the spring, but most can complete common repairs in a few days. Some companies have onsite bike repair by the Bike Doctor. Check out the “ABC Quick Check” for additional resources and tips on bicycle safety.
  • Register: Join teams if your city, county, or company is participating in a group challenge.

APRIL 8th – 3 Weeks before Bike to Work Month:

  • Plan your biking route: Remember to plan your route for a bike not a car. Use the bicycling option on Google Maps to see bike lanes and get suggestions on a route for riding a bike since it may be safer and easier to take a different route than you would in a car. You can also refer to whole host of regional & local maps aggregated by the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition. Try the route or portions of it on weekends so you are familiar with the turns and hazards. Ask other cyclists about the route they use to get to your employment location. If the first route you try may not be the best, try another option that might be safer or easier.
  • Time management: Estimate the time you will need to ride your bike. Make sure to leave yourself some extra buffer time to arrive at your destination.
  • Energizer stations:  Check the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition (SVBC) website for energizer stations on your route. Plan to stop, say hello, support other first time riders, and pick up a free snack.

APRIL 15th – 2 Weeks before Bike to Work Month:

  • Invite coworkers, neighbors and friends: Other beginners will appreciate going in a group and experienced cyclists are more than happy to ride with a newbie on Bike to Work Day. Just ask.
  • Find a lock and plan to bring it: You may be able to leave an extra lock at your office so you don’t have to carry it, but if you plan to stop along the way, take a lock with you. You will also need a way to secure your bike while you’re at work.  Ask your employer about secure parking locations.  Look for bike racks and places you can lock and store your bike that won’t block pedestrians. Proper locking technique can be found here. Ask other cyclists where they park if possible.

APRIL 22nd – 1 Week before Bike to Work Month:

  • Clothes: Make sure you have comfortable riding clothes and shoes. Specialized cycling clothes for a short commute is not needed, but appropriate clothes can make a ride more comfortable and safer. If wearing pants, a pants strap will help keep the pants away from the bikes chain if the bike doesn’t have a chain guard.  A large rubber band or tucking your pants in your socks can also work. Just remember to take the rubber band off after you arrive at your destination. Bright colors increase your visibility and are safer. The exercise of cycling will warm you up so dress in layers and consider a jacket if there is a chance of rain.  If you like to wear cycling gloves, beanies, or any cycling specific clothes, find them in advance and set them out with your helmet so they are easy to find when you dress in the morning. Biking exercise shirts may be more comfortable if you have them as a base layer. If you plan to change clothes once you arrive at work, you’ll need a backpack, basket, or pannier to carry the extra clothes.  You can bring the extra clothes and shoes to work in advance as an option.  Some employers offer lockers, racks or other places to store your work clothes or riding clothes. Employers may have showers or you can use a nearby health club if you are a member.  You may need to bring a towel, soap, and toiletries. Bringing these a few days before is helpful to lighten your load. And the bike-style mavens have also put together this list of what NOT to wear – in case you had any doubts.
  • Safe Riding: Review tips for riding safely in traffic during commute hours available at http://bikesiliconvalley.org/str/safety-tips and other sites.
  • Just in case: It’s always best to be self sufficient, and carry tools and a pump to repair a flat. On Bike To Work Day there will be a lot of cyclists out and about, so if you don’t have tools, you can probably flag down some one who does for help or plan in advance to ride with another cyclist who may have tools. Carrying a cell phone is recommended.

May 1st – The First Day of Bike to Work Month:

  • Wake-up early so you’re not rushed.
  • Eat appropriately, especially if you have a long ride.
  • Remember to bring your backpack with everything you need to carry.
  • Start riding, smile, nod, and say hello to all the cyclists you’ll see!
  • Most importantly, have fun!!