Happy National Bike Month — an annual celebration from the League of American Bicyclists all about bike joy and all those working to make it safer and easier to experience it!
Commuting on a Bike:
Bike to Work Week will take place May 16-22, 2022, and Bike to Work Day is on Friday, May 20! Join our Strava group and share your #BikeMonth rides, whether you’re biking recreationally, competitively, or commuting, we would love to cheer you on! We’ve put together a brief guide for folks considering riding their bikes to work.
As with any kind of biking, the first step to commuting is to know the basics of riding a bike and learn the rules of the road. Commuting does not require any additional preparations or knowledge beyond those outlined in getting started and the rules of the road. Check out our free Bicycling Handbook for more tips, or get a brief overview below:
Check Your Bike Before Riding
You should be comfortable with the ABC Quick Check, a quick inspection to determine if your bike is safe to ride. The ABC Quick Check should be done before every ride.
Try your first bike commute on a nice day as your schedule allows. Plan a route that works for you and give yourself a little extra time for your first commute. Riding your commute ahead of time can be a great opportunity to explore the best route options. Consider riding with a friend or colleague who bikes often as they can have tips and tricks for navigating to work by bike, and it can be more fun riding safely with a friend!
Commuting does not have to be a workout
Biking to work does not have to be an athletic endeavor; it can be a calm, leisurely ride. Only you can determine the riding style that works best for your commute. Remember: it’s not a race!
Dressing for biking to work
The easiest way to dress for biking to work is to simply wear your work clothes on your bike. However, some people may want or need to change part or all of their outfits when arriving at work. You can carry a change of clothes on your bike or, if possible, store a change of clothes or shoes at your workplace. Some employers have showers or locker rooms. Check out the clothing and gear section for more information about what to wear when biking. How can your place of work be more bicycle-friendly? The good news is, that there are already tons of businesses large and small in Minnesota that are already implementing bicycle-friendly programs and opportunities. Learn more about Bicycle Friendly Businesses here.
Worried about getting sweaty? There’s nothing wrong with sweat, but most people can largely avoid it by riding at an easy, comfortable place and wearing comfortable, breathable clothing. Keeping mini or full-sized items you use to stay fresh in your bag can help ease any anxiety around staying fresh.
You may wish to carry clothing, work supplies and other items with you. The easiest way to carry stuff without extra gear installations is with a backpack or shoulder bag. However, it can be uncomfortable to carry large or heavy items on your person. Having a rack on your bicycle is a great way to carry more stuff. With a rack, you can strap your backpack or items to the rack. You can also attach a milk crate or basket. This is a great inexpensive way to securely carry all sorts of things on your bike.
There are also various types of bags that attach to racks or directly to your bike. One common example is panniers, bags that are designed to attach directly to a bike rack. These are often waterproof and are a versatile way to carry things. Check out your local bike shop for the many bag different options.
Bring a snack
Biking can make you hungry, and you need fuel to keep moving. Having extra of your favorite snacks is never a bad idea. It’s also important to carry a good amount of water. Using a reusable water bottle is a green way to stay hydrated. You can also map out local shops or water fountains on your route to ensure you have a way to refill your water bottle should you need to!
Bicycle commuting doesn’t mean you have to get the latest greatest, and most expensive gear, but it can be a good idea to have some of these on hand.
- Locks and Locking Your Bike: Lock your bike whenever you are not using it, even if you will only be away from it for a short time. See if your workplace offers outdoor bike racks, or indoor bike parking for your commute. When choosing a bike lock, make sure it is specifically for bikes. There are many brands and designs of good bike locks, generally, U-locks are considered the most secure. Thin cable locks and chains with padlocks are easily cut. While a good lock can be expensive, it is cheaper than a new bike. Check out your local bike shop for options. Lock your bike in a visible location. The most important part of locking your bike is to ensure the lock is both around your frame and the solid metal object you are locking it to. Do not lock to an object that is movable or easily cut, like a chain-link fence. You may be able to use your lock to secure your rear wheel and your frame with a large enough U-lock, or by using additional locks or a cable in conjunction with a U-lock to secure both wheels. While bike parking rules vary by municipality, generally you may lock your bike to bike racks and signposts on public property. Do not lock to trees, light posts, traffic signal poles, handrails, or anywhere that will obstruct access to or use of the sidewalk.
- Lights: A front light and rear light or rear reflector are required at night. There are many different types of lights. Check with your local bike shop to see what options are compatible with your bike. Wheel spoke reflectors or lights, and helmet lights help make you more visible when riding in the rain. Remember, a front light and a rear reflector are required–not optional–for legally riding in the rain, the same as riding in the dark.
- Fenders: Fenders can help keep you and your bike clean and dry in inclement weather or year-round. There are many different types of fenders. Check with your local bike shop to fit the right fender on your bike.
Have a backup plan
Have a plan if you encounter an issue like getting flat or bad weather. A few options when the worst happens: phone a friend, use a taxi or rideshare, or research transit options in your area.
Bike Month also means the challenge you know and love is back! Log your bike miles as part of a collective competition and win sweet prizes. Visit our partners at Love to Ride to sign up for the National Bike Challenge »
Find rides and events all over Minnesota using our events calendar! Dust off your bike, do an ABC Quick Check, and let’s roll together this month! Find more tips for riding your bike safely and comfortably with our Bicycling Handbook.