Bike to Work: Tips for New Bike Commuters

Burn calories instead of gas by bike commuting to work. It’s good for your waistline and your wallet. You don’t need a lot of special equipment—even with just a bike, a lock, helmet and light you’re ready to go. A wide variety of bike commuter gear is available from bike bags that hold laptops which sit a-top a rack on your back tire to lightweight trailers that offer greater carrying capacity.

Tips for new bike commuters:

  • Plan your route in advance. Most often there are several ways to get from your house to the office. Consider taking the easiest route with the least amount of traffic even if it is longer.
  • Try a practice run on the weekend and pay attention to how much time it takes so you can avoid being late to work.
  • Get comfortable taking one hand off of your handle bars so you can easily look behind you and use turn signals:
    • Right turn signal - either hold your right arm out, or hold your left arm up, with bent elbow. You don’t have to keep your arm out through the turn – you may need both hands on the handlebars to keep control of your bicycle.
    • Left turn signal - left hand straight out
    • Brake signal - left hand pointed down bend at the elbow at a 45 degree angle
  • Be visible. A simple headlight on your bike can make a difference in being more visible to drivers. Wearing a brightly colored jacket and/or using an inexpensive a flashing light is also good for enhancing your visibility.
  • If you need to take work home with you, then consider attaching a carrier like a rack to the back of your bike. They come in many styles and will be useful for carrying your stuff to work. You can also use a backpack or messenger bag, if that works best for you.
  • Pack clothes, lunch and anything else needed the night before so you’re less likely to forget something. Try and pack light, the less you have to lug around the more enjoyable your ride will be.
  • Have an alternate plan. Check out transit options, many cities in Oregon have Emergency Ride Home programs.
  • Find out ahead of time where you can park your bike at your workplace and where you can store any bike gear.
  • Keep up on bike maintenance and cleaning for a smoother ride and to make sure you catch any problems early.
  • Remember, you can always get off your bike and become a pedestrian.

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