Getting Around By Bike

Bicycling can be a great alternative to driving alone to work or replacing car trips to the store or a friend’s house. It provides you flexibility and is a great way to incorporate some healthy exercise into you day. People who use a bicycle for trips can be as far away as 20 miles, but most people who use their bicycle for trips travel around 5 miles.

Choosing a Bike
If you are just starting out, the first thing you will want to think about is what type of bicycle will best fit your needs.  Having the right type of bicycle and fit is critical to you being comfortable and enjoying yourself so you want to take the time to find the right bicycle.  Bicycles usually fall into one of several categories: road bicycles/touring bicycles, mountain bicycles/off-road bicycles, and hybrid bicycles.  There are other styles of bicycles available such as a recumbent, but most fall into the above categories.

Each bicycle has its own advantages and disadvantages.  A local bicycle shop will be the best place for you to get the information you need because they will have the skills and knowledge to ensure you choose the proper bicycle type, especially the fit.  A lot of bicyclists find that hybrid bicycles offer them the best design features to ensure comfort and safety while riding to and from work or the store.

Essential Items
Once you have found a bicycle that will best suit your needs, there are other items you should consider purchasing that you will make your trips easier. Items that you should purchase include:

  • A helmet: Using a helmet when you ride can reduce the severity of injury if you are in a collision and can save your life.  Roughly 75% of cyclists deaths are due to people not wearing a helmet.  Remember that a helmet will only protect as well as it fits.  For info on how to properly fit your helmet see the website below.
  • Headlights and Taillights: Headlights are required by law to be on your bicycle when traveling at night and even though only a red reflector is required for a taillight, it is extremely beneficial to have a full working taillight as well.  Lights available vary greatly based on quality, mounting design, amount of light they supply, and their running time.
  • A lock: U-locks are the strongest and most theft-resistant locks you can purchase, but they are heavy and inflexible. Options for using a U-lock is to leave it at your workplace or a constant location you park your bike rather than carrying it around. You can then use a cable-lock for other quick trips or errands you may go on.  Cable-locks can offer more flexibility and are lighter weight, but they are also less secure. Consider purchasing a cable-lock that with the lock built-in rather than a lock that you would have to use a padlock with.

Other items to consider purchasing include

  • Storage bags: room to carry items on your bicycle is important to keep in mind. Using a backpack or over the shoulder bag is an option that many people choose to use, but for some they find that it can cause to much strain or extra sweat. Other options include purchasing panniers or a folding bag that attach to a rack on the back of your bicycle. These can provide waterproof, sealed compartments for carrying al of your items.
  • Clothing: Many people feel comfortable riding a bicycle in regular clothing. If you have a really long distance to ride or want to make sure you don’t sweat in your clothes then consider purchasing specific clothing for bicycling. This can include gloves, shorts/pants, shoes, and shirts.
  • Other items for your bicycle such as fenders, mirrors, or specialized tires.

Choosing Your Route
When considering which route you are going to take to your destination, try your hardest to not think like a driver. In some cases, the easiest, safest, and most direct way to get to your destination may be taking the roads that you would normally drive your car on.  But a lot of times, there are other alternatives to a route. Alternatives that have much less traffic, are safer, and can actually save you time.