Monday, June 8, 2009

Preparing to commute by bicycle

In a previous post, I discussed preparing to commute by bicycle from a purely equipment-oriented point of view. While having the right gear for commuting is important, especially when your commute gets longer, there are other factors to consider when deciding, ultimately, to start your cycling commute.

How long is your commute?

This will be critically important in your decision of whether or not to ride to work. Logically, the longer you have to ride, the less realistic it might be for you to actually do so. This could be due to the sheer distance you’d need to ride each way, or perhaps due to time constraints before or after work.

Will you mix your ride with other modes of transportation?

This goes hand-in-hand with the consideration of how long your commute really is. A very long commute can easily be done by a combination of cycling and transit use. In fact, many cyclists do just that.

Is there a secure place to lock your bike?

You probably lock your car when you park it, wouldn’t it make just as much sense, if not more, to lock up your new, ultralight, easily carried-off vehicle? Does your place of business have good bike racks or another means of storing your bike securely? Do you work in an environment in which you can bring your bike into your office?

Are there showers or locker rooms?

Most businesses would probably frown upon you going through the day in your cycling gear. Does your place of business provide a place for you to clean up and change into your work clothes? Is there a place you can hang up wet clothing to dry after riding in wet weather?

I’ve cycled to work off and on since 2001. Each place I’ve worked has provided facilities for me to change, there’s been secure storage for my bike and even a place to hang up wet gear. Unfortunately, not every place of business will be able to make such accommodations available. If your place of business doesn’t, don’t give up. Look around for alternatives. There are facilities for cycle commuters popping up in cities all over. Seattle has Bikestation downtown. For a modest membership fee, you have access to secure bike storage and a locker room. There’s even a bike shop to perform repairs on your bike while you’re at work. Chicago has a similar facility as do other cities.

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