First steps to bike commuting
- THINK ON TWO WHEELS. The next time you drive to work, think like a cyclist. Pay attention to the entire route. Make mental notes of the roads that have shoulders wide enough to accommodate a bike as well as narrow stretches that are too dangerous. Use this as a starting point when mapping out your bike route.
- MAP IT OUT. Pick up a detailed road map of the area your route will traverse. Highlight only the parts of your driving route that you know are safe. Find alternate routes that run parallel to the sections you want to avoid—choose side streets, parks and neighborhoods rather than high-traffic, high-speed roads. Also be sure to plan your route through well-lit streets.
- TROUBLESHOOT YOUR ROUTE. Take the map of your route you’ve roughed out and go for a test drive. Choose a time that will mirror your actual commute time to observe the traffic conditions then. You want to avoid high volume, high speed motor vehicle traffic areas and construction zones. Find a way around it and mark it on your map. Do this until you’ve reached your destination. Test-drive the return route too.
- MAKE A BIKE TEST RIDE. On a day off, test-ride your planned route to make sure it’s safe and to see how long it will take you. You may find at this time that your trip has too many small turns and not enough long stretches, or that you can save time by taking shortcuts on paths, or through parks or alleys where cars can’t go. Experiment until you get it right.
- EXPAND YOUR HORIZONS. Once you’ve nailed down your route and the time it takes to complete it, you’ll be riding to and from work without even a second thought. Now’s the time to change it up. Turn down a different road on your way home, check out a new neighborhood or incorporate a greenway, there may be a shop or snack bar that might welcome your visit. You may have acquaintances nearby that would enjoy seeing you. Riding easy in the saddle of life will help you shed the stress of the day.
(Used with permission from Bicycling Magazine)