How do you feel about bike commuting? Ask this question to some people, and they may react negatively claiming it is stressful, complicated, maybe even boring. Ask it to others and their eyes light up with the freedom and adventure this alternate form of getting around the city provides. Commuting can be a significant part of your day and can also play an important role in your chosen lifestyle.
Commuting can take on a totally new persona if you let it.
When you take the proper steps to make bike commuting hassle free, you can really optimize your experience. You can transform something that might have seemed scary or unattainable into something that brings joy and freedom with just a little preparation. Commuting with ease is possible.
Follow these steps to make your commuting hassle-free and experience the joy of urban mobility.
1. Find the Best Route
The first step to improve your bike commute is by finding the best route(s) through the city. Use tools that are available to you to find safe bike lanes. Google maps shows bike and commuter routes right in the app. There are many apps available:
2. Plan Your Mode of Transportation
Nowadays there are so many alternative transportation options in the city from buses and trains to rental bikes and scooters, not to mention using your own bike, scooter or skateboard. You no longer have to sit in that dreadful traffic with everyone else, you can become an active (?) commuter. How do you do it? Our advice is to plan your route to work or your favorite hangouts utilizing as many bike lanes as possible, and then locate the modes of transportation available along those routes. Obviously if you have your own bike or scooter – off you go. If not, find out which rental services are available in your city. Some of the top companies that provide rental services in the US/CA are:
- Washington DC - Capital Bike Share
- Chicago - Divvy
- New York City - Citi Bike
- Minneapolis/St. Paul - Nice Ride Minnesota
- Montreal - Bixi
- San Diego - Multiple companies
3. Be Seen – Be Safe
Whether you bike commute in the dark or light, near cars or the open road, every commuter must be cognizant of safety and should take steps to be seen. We know you don’t want to show up at work with neon all over you, but there are some great products out today that can help you be seen and be safe.
- Lights, Lights and more Lights – light it up everyone. A good front and back blinking light helps you stay seen during any hour of the day. Some favorites are:
- Reflectors are often something people take off their bike because they don’t like the aesthetic. We are here to tell the commuters of the world to keep them on. Even add more if you want. If you are scooting – add a reflector pin like the Po Campo Bird Pin to your backpack or jacket lapel for that extra visibility. When the headlights of a car hit the reflector it will help you be seen.
- Reflective clothing – so why do you think road workers have bright yellow vests on at all times. They need to be seen. Same goes for you when you are zipping around on a bike or scooter along with traffic. Here are some of our favorite apparel products:
- Hey Reflecto - cute patterns and styles in easy on off vests.
- Vespertine NYC - Vespertine has been making stylish reflective gear for many years and they have a wide variety of choices. Our closet is stocked full of shirts, vests, scarves, dresses.
- Reflective Toe - We love the reflective socks by this brand - roll up your pants and let your ankles do the reflecting.
4. Use Products Designed for Bike Commuting
Good product design matters. Products that are designed with consideration, function and purpose are even better. If you have oversized, overstuffed and heavy bags you could be unstable. If you are hanging onto your phone you are definitely not safe. Same goes with a cup of coffee. The two hands on the steering wheel rule you learned when in driving school goes double for the bike or scooter. Keep both hands on the handlebars.
Here are some suggestions and products on how to help keep your hands on the handlebar and you more stable on the bike or scooter.
- Bags – Pick a bag that is specifically designed to carry things on your bike. . Good construction and pockets with purpose will help. A lot of loose items in a backpack can shift while moving and cause you to get off balance. Po Campo bags are designed with mobility in mind to keep you and your belongings safe. They have extra visibility features as well as on and off the bike attachments. See the entire product line of panniers, backpacks, handlebar bags and more at our online store.
- Coffee cup holder- if you own your bike or scooter it is easy for you to put a cup holder on the bike. One of our favorites is the Public Bikes Coffee Cup Holder. If you can ride without your cup of Joe - please do so.
- Phone mount – Rule of the road - do not text and ride/scoot. But the phone offers good navigational support. We recommend mounting the phone to the bike so you leave your hands free to maneuver through the city. If you are using the city bike/scooter share programs you are going to want a product that can come and go with you. We like the Nite Ize Wraptor for its easy on/off application. If you are using your own bike or scooter you can choose something more permanent like the Quad Lock Case. So versatile.
5. Be Social – Find Your People
You might find yourself commuting amongst the same people every day. Be friendly, say hi. Building a community and looking out for one another is important as we evolve with new means of mobility. We are here to help each other.
There are some great resources to help identify routes, tips, new products etc. Some of our favorite resources are:
- Check your local bike or alternative transportation advocacy organization, which often plans rides and socials to meet like minded people
- People for Bikes has a lot of great resources, including the new Ride Spot that shares local rides
- Find a local bike group online, typically on Facebook, where you can find out about preferred routes, new bike lanes being launched, which products are available at which shops, etc.
- Follow hashtags #bikecommuter #citybiking #biketowork to connect with other bike commuters and learn some biking hacks
- Subscribe to the Po Campo newsletter
It’s never too early to start experimenting with new ways to get around the city!
Be safe. Be seen. Be Mobile.
Other blog posts you may like:How and Why to Go Car-Free (Or at least Car-Lite)
Your Ultimate Bicycle Route Planner
Nervous about biking in the city? Then read this!