Bike to Work 101: Tips for Two-Wheel Commuting
A Few Pointers for Riding Safely
Yes, you can ride on the sidewalk — but be aware that you must yield the right of way to pedestrians and use an audible signal, like a bell, when you’re ready to pass. When you’re biking on the roads, use either the dedicated bike lanes or take the lane, which means riding in the middle of the road. You can also use bike trails. Visit the State Bicycle Map to learn more about trails located near you.
Wear a helmet. While there is no statewide law mandating helmet use when biking, wearing one reduces the risk of severe brain injury by half, according to the American Journal of Surgery. Worried about helmet hair? Try using dry shampoo to get a just-washed look when arriving to work.
Learn hand signaling before biking on the road. It’s important to let drivers know when you’re stopping or turning. Go to Sharing the Road in Virginia for a cyclist hand signals guide.
Put lights and reflective materials on your bicycle. Also, make yourself more visible by wearing bright or reflective clothing.
For more bicycle safety tips, visit http://sharevaroads.org/safety/.
Can’t Bike the Whole Way? Bike to Transit!
Is it just too far or too complicated to get to work on a bike? Then try biking to a transit stop, and take the bus or train. Check with the transit provider near you to find out if they have bike racks available and to learn their specific bike rules. Here are a few guidelines for using bus bike racks:
- Space on bus racks is typically available on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Bike racks can generally accommodate two-wheeled bicycles with a wheelbase of up to 44 inches and a wheel size of at least 16.
- You assume full responsibility when loading and unloading your bike, the bus driver cannot help you.
- You must wait for the bus to come to a complete stop and make eye contact with the driver before walking your bike to the rack
- Notify the driver when you will be removing your bike from the rack before your stop.
Bike Share Your Way to Work
Don’t want to use your own bike to get to work? Then check to see if there’s a bike sharing program near you. Then, you can walk to take transit to a bike share station, pay a low fee, and bike to a bike share station close to work. These programs are now in service in Norfolk, Roanoke, Richmond and Northern Virginia, and on several Virginia college campuses.
How Can You Look Ready for Work After Biking?
You can bike to work and still look professional when you sit down at your desk. Just keep in mind you don’t have to ride fast or take the most challenging route on your commute.
Showers are available at some workplaces, and if not there are many alternatives. Join a gym near your work so you can have access to a shower, use a moist towelette to clean up, or keep a small towel at your desk. You can also store a change of clothes and dress shoes in your office.
Another great way to keep cool is by riding an electric bicycle or ebike. These bikes have an electric motor that provides a rider assist when pedaling. Most ebikes can go up to 15 mph and require far less effort to use.
Get Equipped to Enjoy Yourself
If you’re looking to get into cycling, or don’t think your current bike is right for you, this guide will help you find the perfect bike. Choose a bike you’ll enjoy riding. Make sure it’s the right size and style, and that the seat is comfortable for you. You might want to install a bike basket to hold your bag, briefcase and other belongings, too. The staff at your local bike shop can help.
Also, don’t think riding a bike means decking yourself out in Lycra. You can wear your own work clothes, as long as you can ride a bike in them.
And remember, you don’t have to bike every day. It may be too hot, or raining, or snowing or maybe you just don’t feel like it. But even biking a few times a month can improve your mood and your physical health.