There are many benefits to riding your bike to work, but urban biking can be a bit intimidating for the inexperienced. Bicycle commuting is being embraced by more and more people across the country as cities begin to alter their infrastructure to be more accepting of bicycle commuters. In addition to the health benefits inherent with riding frequently, some companies are offering financial incentives to bicycle commuters. Still, some bikers are intimidated by the thought of riding their bike to work. Here are some tips to help you enjoy the urban bike ride.
1. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. If you are an urban biker and your commute is just a few miles, you have nothing to fear. But if you are new to biking and your commute is a substantial length, either wait until you are comfortable riding that distance twice a day or arrange for a ride home from work and commute in. Another option is to ride your bike a couple of times a week until you build up the endurance to do it each day.
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2. Wear a helmet. Sure, no one wants helmet head at work – but no one wants a smashed skull and traumatic brain injury, either! Wear a helmet every time you ride, no exceptions. You can bring along a brush, hairspray, and even a hair dryer or curling iron if you want and style your hair at work. Never, ever neglect to wear a helmet.
3. Stay visible and vigilant. Invest in a jacket that can be easily seen by motorists. Some great, lightweight jackets have built-in reflectors and bright colors. Also, be sure your bike has lights and reflectors. Even if you do not plan on riding during dawn or dusk hours, it’s important to have lights in case you ride in poor weather conditions. Also, be vigilant of those around you. It may be tempting to put on your earphones and zone out, but this puts you at an increased risk of crashing (and in some states is outlawed). Instead, take in your surroundings and ride being vigilant of others on the road around you. The urban bike ride is different from a country ride on sleepy roads. Be aware.
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4. Plan your route. Do a dry run, perhaps on the weekend, and plan your route. Try to avoid busy intersections, when possible, and maximize your time on bike paths. Also, plan for arrangements in case of inclement weather. You may be fine riding in a drizzle, but be sure you have a ride available in case of a downpour.
5. Keep gear on hand for emergencies. Be prepared in case you need to change a flat. Keep gear on hand to make repairs quickly so that you are not delayed. Also, keep a small first aid kit with you, just in case.
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6. Keep your cell phone with you at all times. You never know when you’re going to crash or have a significant bike malfunction. If you crash, you will want to be able to contact emergency services and also to take down information of others involved in the crash. If you are in a crash, use your phone to take pictures of the area and what occurred.
7. Add extra time to prep for your day at work. No one wants to come in from a ride perspiring and slightly winded and immediately sit down for a meeting. Add a few extra minutes into your schedule to allow for you to brush your hair, change clothes (if needed), apply a fresh layer of deodorant, or just catch your breath. Riding your bike to work is a great way to get exercise and safe money, but remember to allow yourself a few extra minutes to get ready for your day.
8. Remember, safety first! Even if you are running late or facing major traffic, safety is critical. When you are on your bike, you have nothing protecting you in the event of a crash. Even with a helmet, crashes can be disastrous. Watch out for vehicles and others on the road, especially at intersections and in heavy travel areas. Keep an eye out for people opening car doors suddenly, as that presents a major hazard to cyclists. If you are involved in a bicycle commuting crash, contact a bicycle crash lawyer right away for advice on how to recover as much as possible for your injuries. The team at Kass & Moses will be happy to speak to you about your case during a free consultation.