May 5, 2017
By Charlie Hockett
After one of the wettest Northwest winters on record — certainly the wettest I have ever experienced — cyclists are slowly emerging from a winter-long hibernation.
With warmer weather comes Bike Everywhere Month in May — the time to encourage, support and celebrate all things bicycling, with an emphasis on bicycle commuting.
If you’re new to commuting on your bike, here are some general tips to make commuting on two wheels more accessible so you can join the party and ride all May long — and beyond.
A bike to ride and a place to store it
You need a working bike and a place to store it both at home and at your destination. A visit to your local bike shop or perusing Craigslist are great ways to find a bike and a lock that fit your style and budget.
Once you get where you are going, find a dry, safe place to lock your bike. Oftentimes workplaces and schools will have dedicated bike parking, but if not, keep an eye out for locations to lock your bike where someone sawing through your lock would be noticed.
Knowing your route and how long it takes to ride it
If you know anyone who rides to your destination, ask for advice on a route; I find locals’ knowledge is always best. If not, the Google Maps biking directions are typically pretty accurate for finding routes. They also provide an idea of how long the ride will take. In general, I find that 10 miles per hour is an appropriate estimate to use.
Riding in Style:
What to wear
You do not need expensive gear to be comfortable commuting by bike. It comes down to two things: mobility and breathability. Mobility means wearing clothes that allow your body to move freely so you don’t waste any energy pedaling against tight pants (as well as hills). Breathability means ventilation. Remember that the longer you ride, the more you will warm up. I like clothes that have options to increase airflow like zippered vents, buttons to undo and layers I can take off. If you need to change into other clothes at your destination, you can always bring a fresh set in a backpack or panniers and change in the bathroom.
Reap the Benefits:
See the sights and smell the roses
My commute is the time I set aside to enjoy my surroundings, move my body and generally clear my head. When I try to ride fast or in a hurry, I miss all of the wonderful little things that you only notice while riding a bike.
Deciding to commute by bike helped change forever the way I see bicycling. It went from a weekend hobby to a way of life. Not only are there obvious physical benefits to riding, I also know firsthand what a positive effect riding can have on my mental state.
Add in the fact that you are lessening your impact on the environment and interacting more with your community and it becomes clear that commuting by bike is a positive thing to do.
See you on the road this May!
Learn more about Bike Everywhere Month at cascade.org/bikemonth.
Charlie Hockett is the Rides and Events coordinator for Cascade Bicycle Club and Washington Rides.