Top 10 Biking Tips for the Urban Commute

Nutcase Bike HelmetsBiking to work is a good and healthy way to get some exercise in and helping out the environment. Air pollution is a crap thing to live in, believe me, so we could all do with giving the planet a hand. Seeing as that Bike-to-Work Day/Week/Month just passed by, I’ve decided to hook all of you urban dwellers up with some tips on how to make your commute to work a safe and easy one.

  1. Know the lay of the land. Choose a route and figure out if it’s a relatively easy or complex way of getting to work. By complex, I mean hills, chasing dogs, construction sites, etc. A weekend before, try out the route and see how comfortable you feel. Don’t forget to time yourself.
  2. Helmets. Never leave your house on a bike without one. They are on your head for a reason and if you want to walk away from an accident with your brain intact, it will be in your best interest. Bike helmets, like motorcycle helmets, once they save you from a crash, have their integrity compromised. The extra coin you drop on a new helmet is worth saving yourself from the emergency room with head trauma.
  3. If you are wearing loose-fitting pants (like those that come with a suit), you may want to change into them at work or roll up the pant sleeve, especially on the drivetrain side. You’ll also want to watch out for shoe laces, as well. Make them short enough or double knot them so that they don’t reach the chain rings. Both pant sleeves and laces can get caught in your chain or chain rings so be well aware.
  4. If you are carrying a bag, you may want to consider a back pack or have your messenger cinched up tight against the body. Your bag should be anchored in one place so that when you ride, it doesn’t move around. The shifting of weight may make you wobble and cause an accident. If you don’t want to wear a bag, consider a rack, basket or panniers.  
  5. Wearing earphones. The only time I’m okay with wearing them while on the bike is when the bike is stationary. If you are on the street, you’ll want to hear everything around you. It’s important that you can hear how far away that bus is or if traffic is picking up in your periphery.
  6. Smell you later. We all sweat and that is a reality that may be a little embarrassing, especially once you get to work. There are athletic wipes (like Shower Pill) where you can wipe down in the bathroom, throw on some deodorant and you are ready to go, feeling as fresh as a daisy.
  7. Lights and visibility. If you are off to work in the early morning or returning in the dark of night, you will always need your lights. Get a white front light and a red back light so that people can see you. You may want to consider a reflective vest, just in case.
  8. Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Chain 1415Bike locks and storage. If you like it, put a ring on it. Regardless of whether a bike is costly or not, it is your investment so take care of it. Find a safe place to store it, preferably in a covered area. Use a bike lock and cable or chain so that you can thread the cable through the front and back wheels, if you can.
  9. Maintenance. Like a car, you’ll need to keep your bike in good working order. Check your tires to make sure they aren’t flat and fill them with air at least once a week. Depending on how often you ride and through what conditions, you should take your bike to your local bike shop to get it serviced.
  10. Learn how to fix a flat. You don’t know how many people go into endurance racing or mountain biking, never even bothering to find out how to fix a flat. Your local bike shop and online tutorials can help you out. That said, it is important that you carry around the following: a spare inner tube, bike levers, a hand pump or cartridges and patches.