Commuter cycling is simply riding to work, Or to get from one place to another within your working day. There are many benefits to commuting by Bicycle and my top three are:
- It saves money
- it can save time
- it is healthier for you for
- is better for the environment
When you think about it it is a bit of a no brainer. Post Covid19 a lot more people are working from home, which means that commuting by Bicycle isn’t really necessary, in fact commuting anyway isn’t necessary. This is great because ultimately it saves time and it’s better for the environment, but on the negative Staying at home all day and working solo can be isolating and you can also miss out on those crucial hours going to or from work when you actually can have a break and switch off.
In this blog post I’ve prepared some tips for commuter cycling.
Get yourself a pannier rack and pannier bag.
Riding to work with a heavy backpack giving you a sweaty back it’s not great. When you do have to carry a laptop with you to work it’s best to be able to put that in a bag and attach it to your party rack. Penny wraps are available from any bike shop or even online and can be fitted yourself or by your local bike shop. It is actually life changing to have a pannier rack or the white gets distributed onto your bicycle and it is as if you are not carrying anything at all. The other benefit of having a pannier bag is that you will be able to stop by the shops on the way home and do your grocery shopping, saving you time and also making riding so far as you are not carrying shopping bags on your handlebars as I see so many people doing so often.
Keep a change of clothes at work.
Whether it be a spare pair of shoes, a clean T-shirt or a whole new outfit, having spare clothes is great for commuting in all different types of weather. When it rains you will need to change out of your wet clothes and if it is too hot then you will want to change out of your sweaty outfit. Many workplaces also have showers so it’s even better to be able to start work after a long ride by freshening up. When I used to commute from Hackney to Soho I just wore the clothes that I would wear for the whole day and I would ride quite slowly and leisurely. I recommend this because getting to work flustered and racing against the clock wasn’t great for me at the start of the day. Other people love to get the adrenaline and endorphins going at the beginning of the day and this is a great way to combine exercise with your commute.
Invest in rain gear or gear for hot weather
Having a great raincoat and rain trousers that you can rely on is a great way to make sure that you don’t chicken out of cycling on the days when it’s raining. In my experience when it’s raining the buses and tubes are even more crowded so even more reason to ride your bicycle. It would seem that riding in the rain would be really miserable but whizzing past all the traffic and buses stalled in rainy weather can be extremely satisfying. You should not let the weather determine whether or not you ride your bicycle to work. Similarly to raincoats, in summer it’s wise to wear clothes that are cool and dry easily, as let’s face it, you will get sweaty! Sunglasses and all the correct gear is essential for making your trip more pleasant and something to look forward to each morning.
Get a mudguard fitted on your bicycle
There are many different types of mudguards available on the market. Some are very expensive and some bikes come with them already fitted, and you can even use an empty water bottle to freshen your own home-made version. What is Mudguard? Well it is what it says on the tin it is a guard that stops the rain and dirty water from splashing up onto your clothes when you ride a bike in wet weather. Because you don’t see the mud being splashed onto your back you might not think that it is important but believe me it is crucial.When you are commuting it is crucial to have a mudguard on your bicycle also out of consideration for your fellow commuters. Bicycles that do not have mudguards on them can also splash mud backwards onto the bicycles behind them and in urban settings when bicycles are closely packed together in busy areas it is really antisocial not to have a mudguard. You will definitely be grateful for having Mudguard if you are wearing nice clothes that you plan on staying in throughout the day at work.
Change up your route
This is an arguable point as I know there are many cyclists out there who are racing against the clock and want to find the quickest way to get to work or home and stick to it. However, I think changing up your commute route every few days or every few weeks is good and it can make you focus on more than just beating your latest time when you’re commuting to work. When I have changed routes in the past I have really appreciated discovering new areas and getting to know different neighbourhoods better.
Don’t ride every day at first
There will always be those days where you want to go out for work drinks after work or you are hung over or simply just tired and don’t feel like getting onto your bicycle. Don’t be too hard on yourself when you first start commuting by bicycle even doing it a couple days a week is going to be really beneficial. You need to make cycling integrate into your lifestyle rather than it being a novel activity that you do for a little while then stop. Ultimately the majority of the benefits of cycling come when you do it consistently over a long period of time. I would advise to plan your week and know which days you will commute by bicycle and which days you won’t. Having a good lock is important because then you can lock your bicycle up on either end of your commute and not feel pressurised to always have to do a back and forth route to work, this makes cycling to work more flexible for you and then you are more likely to carry on doing it.
Get a bicycle bell fitted to your bike
When cycling in urban settings especially during commuter time there are lots of people who are not concentrating fully on where they are going. Do you know who you are :-) many people have their faces in their mobile phones, they are listening to music, they are thinking about work or their minds are elsewhere. Having a bicycle bell with a nice friendly tone can help you with your commute to warn people who are walking across the road without looking also warning other cyclists That you are coming or overtaking them. don’t be afraid to use your bicycle bell, it’s really important as a way of communicating as a cyclist. When I Have commuted home along the canals of East London, it has been really important to have a bicycle bell. The protocol is to ding three times when you’re coming through a tunnel. This alerts any oncoming traffic that you are coming through.
I would love to hear if anyone else has any more tips on commuter cycling. Do you agree with my tips ? do you have any other ones and I would love to hear your experiences with commuting in your city and what you think about it.