5 Tips To Get You Pedaling On National Bike To Work Day
May is National Bike Month, with May 18 being the designated National Bike To Work Day (local observance dates can vary). While for some this might be the beginning of a whole new season of healthy transport, for others commuting by bike might seem like a daunting task. That’s why we’ve compiled a few of our of favorite tips—including some from our own commuters at Health IQ—to better prepare you for pedaling to the office on May 18.
1. Alternate biking with mass transit/carpooling.
Biking to work might feel daunting to some people simply because of the distance alone. Some people live several miles from work or live in areas without proper biking infrastructure such as protected designated bike lanes—which can cut biker injuries by 90%—or wider shared-transportation lanes. That doesn’t mean you have to give up on the health benefits of commuting by bike altogether! You can take mass transit part of the way—many buses have bike racks on the front and some subways have designated bike areas on trains—and bike the rest. Alternatively, you can carpool with a co-worker to work—if the car has a bike rack or wheels come off and your bike can be stored in the trunk—and bike home. However you choose to do it, even a few minutes of biking before or after your work day can be the beginning of a healthy new way to commute.
2. Start out commuting 1-3 days a week.
If you’re new to cycling, 5 days a week of commuting by bike may seem a bit overwhelming. It’s good to start out with a frequency that feels achievable, such as 1-3 times a week. Once your stamina improves as well as your confidence on the road, it’s safe to say that you’ll be prepared to add more commuting days—making it less of a chore and more like fun.
3. Don’t fear the sweat.
Many new bikers think they have to buy fancy clothes to be a cycling commuter, lest they smell like gym locker. But most folks aren’t biking to work à la the alpine course of the Tour de France. If your commute is less than 5 miles from home, you can usually just wear your normal work clothes, as chances are you won’t work up much of a sweat. If the commute is longer, it’s easy to simply freshen up in the work bathroom and change into a different pair of pants (if you choose to wear cycling shorts). If your office doesn’t have a shower, explore the possibility of using a nearby gym to shower. Just be mindful to wear bright, visible clothes during the day and reflective clothes at night and biking to work will be no sweat!
4. Map your route ahead of time.
Many online mapping systems such as Google Maps or local city bike apps will map your route for you—taking into account biking infrastructure which can drastically increase your safety as well as flat roads, which make for easier travels. Mapping your route ahead of time well prepares you for the trip ahead, which keeps you safely focused on the road and enjoying the scenery.
5. Obey the rules of the road.
While it’s tempting to weave between cars and roll through red lights, the safest way to commute is by obeying the rules of the road. This will ensure that your bike ride is ticket and injury-free—which makes for a better overall experience. Ride with the flow of traffic, stick to the right side of the road, always use hand signals when turning, ride single-file (unless passing another cyclist), and give pedestrians the right-of-way. Finally be sure to keep an extra eye out for swinging car doors, as people exiting parked cars might not see you.
We hope this list—as well as our own Health IQ bike to work quiz—better prepares you for a fun and health conscious way to commute to work—as bike commuters have a 41% reduction of all-cause mortality vs. those who commute by car. And speaking of being prepared, check out HealthIQ.com and learn how to prepare for your family’s future by taking advantage of Health IQ’s exclusive savings on life insurance rates for health conscious people. We also invite you to join the Health IQ community. Follow and tag @HealthIQ in your cycling photos or join the Health IQ Cyclists Group on Facebook.
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