Top 3 Lessons Learned Biking to Work

This April, I decided to bike to work twice a week in honor of our 30-Day Sustainability Challenge -intended to help form a new, green habit for Earth Month.

I’ve kept up my end of the bargain thus far and, at the risk of sounding cliché, have learned a lot about myself along the way:

1. The gear

  • “Be prepared”
    • Perhaps the Boy Scouts knew what they were talking about when they adopted “Be Prepared” as their official motto!
    • It takes advance thought and planning to pack work clothes to wear during the day as well as a lunch, bike lock, deodorant, jewelry, etc. I like to do this at night because it does take extra time.
    • I’ve found that a spacious, comfortable backpack is the best way for me to balance my belongings on my back.
  • Take advantage of functional clothing
    Flat shoes and pants make for an easy ride in to the office.

    Flat shoes and pants make for an easy ride in to the office.

    • It never hurts to have a rain jacket. Plus, vehicle fumes can really make you dirty and sweaty, so wearing some sort of light jacket while pedaling in can give your skin a breather.
    • Shoes are tricky because I don’t like clipping-in on the way to work. What’s worked best for me is wearing somewhat comfortable sandals or flats that I can use on the commute as well as during the work day.

2. The road

  • Find your route
    • Ask around to learn if there are any common bike routes in your city.
    • It’s even better if you can find a group of people to ride with!
  • Sometimes bikers make mistakes
    • It can be tough to learn proper cycling protocol. For example, how to know when you should ride in the bike lane, on the sidewalk or take up a lane yourself. Cars aren’t always forgiving of bikers – but they ARE bigger – so it’s important to put safety first and err on the side of caution at all times.
    • Don’t be afraid of going slow. The worst case scenario is to careen out of control.

3. The lifestyle

  • Biking is worth it – and fun!

    Don’t forget a light and helmet to keep you safe in the evenings.

    • If you like working out, it’s awesome to get an extra hour in AND get to work at the same time.
    • It’s fun to pedal your legs after a day of sitting down at the office! My mind feels at ease after the stint home in the evenings.
  • The habit is “sticky”
    • Biking to work 2-days a week has made me very aware of the days that I DON’T bike to work. Though using a car makes me more comfortable on my ride in (A/C in the car…no sweat…can carry more belongings), I hate sitting in traffic when I know I could be whizzing by in the bike lane.
    • I’ve noticed that on the days that I do bike to work, I don’t often use my car the rest of the day. There’s rarely a reason to!

Share your green-commuter tips in the comments below.