Urban cycling and bike commuting tips - Pt.II

Last week we started to talk about a new great trend that is taking hold in cities all over the world, US included: urban cycling and bike commuting.

Because of health, environmental reasons and the will to change lifestyle, an ever-increasing number of people and workers are opting for bikes to go to work, or to move around the city. As we said, this is a great way to keep in shape, save money and protect our Planet, all in one ride.

Apache Pine is a great supporter of urban cycling. Indeed, all Apache Pine’s products are created to serve their purpose both outside in the wilderness and during our urban time, respecting the planet and always keeping a good, adventurous and active attitude, a bit like urban biking does.

Last time we started to share some tips on how to bike commute like a pro, so here are some more to add to the list and increase even more your knowledge.

Plan ahead

Not all routes are safe and not all routes should be chosen by bikers. This can be for many reasons, first among all: safety. This is no joke, especially during rush hours. Indeed, stress, rush and traffic jams can make people rather nervous and less attentive. Especially car drivers can loose their temper pretty easily and do things that are not so safe for bikers.

And because the great thing about bike commuting is that you can go wherever you want, then opt for less congested roads and even consider the option of cycling through parks, especially during light hours. This will not only keep you safe from accidents and smog, but it will also make your ride even more enjoyable and relaxing.

Of course, once you pick a route, ride it on weekend, consider alternatives and see if it’s really the best option, especially when you’ve never done it before. Don’t wait for work days to find out it’s a complicated one, or to get lost. Plan and rehearse ahead.

Stay vigilant

Even if you think it’s the safest route on the planet, even if nothing ever happened to you while riding down that street, even if you are supertired after a long day at work or too few hours of sleep, even if you are 100% confident of yourself and your bike, be vigilant and stay well focused on the road and on what you are doing.

Indeed, something can always happen, because as sure as you can be about yourself, you can never know about that car getting closer, or that person opening their car door, or that little kid playing on the side of the street or in the park, and so on. So just make sure you are always vigilant, not only when it comes to cars and busy streets, but for all the rest too.

Respect others as much as cars do

Many bikers think that because they don’t really have to respect traffic lights and street signs they are free to do as they please, but it’s not exactly like that.

Indeed, what can be a great advantage, can turn into something very unpleasant for someone else, like for example pedestrians! Don’t expect people to know what you are about to do or to consider you more just because you are on a bike. Don’t race and don’t show off: that’s not what bike commuting is meant for and you could actually harm someone.

Also, respect the traffic code, even if you are not a car, because that’s how the majority of people around you will think and act. This will keep both you and others around you safe and happy. Also, it’s a matter of kindness.

In general, many cities have rules for bikers, so make sure you are familiar with them and you know what you can or cannot do. It will save you a lot of problems in the future and it will also keep you safe. Of course, not all cities have the same rules when it comes to cycling, so if you happen to be in a new city, check their rules out. 

And if you don’t really know what to do, just a bit of common sense will help you make the best choice.

Make sure everyone can see and hear you

This is very important, especially at night and on your way back, when people are more tired, and darkness and low attention makes everything a bit more unsafe. So make sure you have the right bike commuting gear and the right urban cycling equipment to make yourself well visible and hearable if necessary.

Provide yourself and your bike with flashing lights, reflectors and a good bell, so you will be able to signal your presence and stand out.

Also, don’t risk your life just because you are afraid of car drivers’ reaction to your presence. If there’s no bike lane, than take your space on the car one, even if you will slow down traffic. Indeed, if you make yourself too small, cars will try to pass you no matter how much space they have left and you will be at risk.

Train and start small

If it’s the first time you try bike commute, or if you changed home or workplace and your ride suddenly doubles up, don’t go all in, or you might just destroy your muscles and tendons, and say goodbye to biking for many months.

So first things first, train. Don’t assume you are going to be okay. Make sure to do your workout in order to get ready for your cycling. Also, start small and then build up your abilities. You can either bike commute every other day, or you can halve your biking by taking public transports at some point. Add a little bit every day and every week, until you are 100% ready for your commute.

And remember, even if you are an experienced cyclist, cycling every single day no matter what's the weather like or regardless your health conditions is not the same thing as cycling once a week, even if for three times the distance and back. So if you have just made this choice, you too should train properly.

Know when to refrain

And here’s the hardest part: know when it’s time for some rest. Our bodies are not machines and sometimes they just need the right amount of rest they deserve. So don’t be too hard on yourself and don’t push the limits, or you might end up having to rest a lot more than expected.

If you are sick,  then opt for public transports instead of pushing it. To sweat it out it’s okay, but not this way. If it’s a particularly tiring time of the year, don’t feel guilty if you don’t feel like cycling to work every day. In general, don’t overdo it.

Make it a life choice

This is the best way to make sure you can move around cycling everyday. So if you make it a life choice, instead of something you just happen to do, is going to set you right.

So exception made for incredibly heavy weather or physical conditions, you have no excuses: bike and don’t give in the temptation of using your car “just this one time”.

Also, adjust your diet to your commuting: document yourself on what’s best for you to eat when you practice a similar activity and always make sure to have water with you, besides drinking lots of water during the day, even when you are not cycling or exercising. Keep your lifestyle healthy and always ask yourself how your choices are going to affect your biking.

Also, we don’t want to push it too far, but when you have to buy a new pair of trousers, or any other new clothing item, consider how it would be to wear them while biking and always find the best solution.

Don’t pack your agenda with appointments and transfers and always allow yourself the right amount of time to get from one place to another without rushing around.

Also, talk to your boss and explain to them your life choice: chances are they will be willing to allow you some extra time to get to work, or they will allow you to dress more casual so you don’t have to worry about it once you get in. In general, because it’s becoming a frequent thing among workers of all kinds, chances are your boss will meet your needs.