How to Commute to Work Via Bicycle | National Bike to Work Week and Day

Happy National Bike to Work Week! With a pretty rainy week in the forecast for South Louisiana, it may be a little more "adventurous" for those who plan to bike to work.

Biking to work can be a fun and fuel-efficient alternative to commuting. I've only participated in Bike to Work Day once, when I was conveniently three miles from home and on a relatively safe route. These days, my commute is longer and passes through an area I would not feel as safe riding in.

If it's an option for you (as in, you don't work from home, or commute 20 miles one way), check out some tips below for making the trip a smooth one.


Check the weather. 

If you're going to get some rain, make sure you have a rain jacket (or a sweet rain cape) and waterproof bag so your belongings don't get wet. Umbrellas are useless on a bike. Stash a towel in your bag.

Plan your route. 

Google Maps has a bike transit option in their directions, or you can use MapMyRide to create a bike-friendly, safe route from your home to your office. You'll probably deviate a bit from your routine commute in order to follow bike paths or less-busy streets, but it'll give you some variety in the morning. Mapping your route will also help you determine how much extra time your ride will take.

Get a tune-up.

Before you head out, have your bike tuned up so all gears are working, chains are in place, tires and tubes are in good shape, and your handlebars and seat are secure. Check the batteries in your front and rear lights and replace them if you need to, which will eliminate one extra thing you need to pack.

Pack right.  

Packing a good bag is the key to being prepared and traveling light. In your bag, keep a small air pump and tire patches, in case of emergencies. Wear tennis shoes or flats, and pack your nice work shoes. Biking in heels LOOKS nice, but is not fun, and can be a hazard.

Pack deodorant, oil-absorbing sheets, dry shampoo, perfume and makeup. If you ride to work regularly, keep spares of your toiletries and beauty products at work so you don't have to add them to your bag every time. Especially if you have an appointment or meeting, you don't want to look sweaty and disheveled.

Pack weather gear if necessary. Most times, you'll need sunglasses (even if it was raining earlier).

Pannier bags are great because they allow for packing items on both sides of your rear tire. A backpack stays close to you and can support a little more weight, but can make your back super sweaty.

Don't forget your helmet!

Plan your outfit accordingly. 

Unless you're able to show up to work in bike shorts and sneakers, you'll need to find a movable work-appropriate outfit. Pencil skirts can be too restricting for ladies, and swingier skirts can cause some inadvertent Marilyn Monroe moments. Cover up!

Style your hair to work under a helmet, since you need to wear one. And you've already packed your brush and dry shampoo, so you can touch up anything flat.

Black pants and a button down may be covered in sweat at the end of a ride. Stretchier material is more forgiving during rides.

Wear short sleeves or a sleeveless top, or pack a change of clothes in your bag.

Remember your rights and laws. 

Travel smart and follow the rules of the road. Bicyclists have rights, but you also have a responsibility, and everyone needs to share the road.

Be safe! 

Travel where you are comfortable, and if you bike in the dark on either part of your commute, make sure you have bright, working lights. Always be observant of your surroundings. Be careful listening to music with headphones - make sure you can still hear what's going on around you.

Figure out your parking situation. 

Depending on your office situation, you may need to lock your bike outside, or there may be an empty space inside you can "borrow".

Figure out in advance where you'll be able to safely store your bike for the day, and ask permission from a building manager or your boss, if necessary. If you leave it outside, lock it away from highly trafficked areas like sidewalks, and close to your office if possible.

And don't forget your bike lock and key!

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