By Ali and Megan There are few words that strike fear in the heart of a city-dweller to quite the degree of “morning commute.” You’re tired, you’re thinking about everything on your agenda for the day, you’re often running late; the last thing you want to be dealing with is crowded modes of public transportation or traffic and the battle for a parking spot. Rather than submitting to the cruel torture of a packed subway car and a stressful morning commute, a rising percentage of the population is now biking to and from work. In the U.S., this is still a small percentage (only about 0.6 percent); in other regions, however, biking to work is starting to become much more mainstream. Cities such as Amsterdam, Berlin, and Seville, Spain are all adopting much more bike-friendly rules and regulations as the culture begins to embrace the physical benefits and environmental impact of cycling. Here in the states, there are plenty of people who recognize those same benefits but feel like biking simply isn’t an option for them for any number of reasons. And that’s why we, two bike-commute devotees, have put together the following tricks and motivational tips for those looking to give this new approach a try.
Get a good helmet. You’d think this is a given, but it really can’t be emphasized enough. Biking to work is not the same as biking through a nature reserve; it can be dangerous and it’s important to take the proper precautions. We’re big fans of Bern if you’re looking for something comfortable and reliable that won’t make you look any more ridiculous than necessary.
Investigate bike paths and shortcuts. Many cities have designated roads or side paths for bikers that will get you where you need to go more quickly without putting you needlessly in the way of traffic.
If you’re worried about showing up at work a little less composed than you might like (i.e., sweaty and gross), but your office doesn’t have a locker room, look into gyms near your office that offer shower memberships.
For those who use the “my office is too far away” excuse, many cities now offer bike share programs. You can use that to just bike one way and then take public transportation for the other, or maybe you take a bus halfway and then grab a bike for the home stretch. Download the Spotcycle app to locate bike stations and availability in cities around the world.
When you’re struggling to find the motivation, focus on the time it’s saving you. You might not be super energized to hop on your bike first thing in the morning, but for many people it’s legitimately faster than public transportation methods. Bonus: you don’t need to go to the gym that day.
Become a Bicycle Benefits member. Purchase a $5 sticker at any bike shop, stick it on your helmet and start receiving discounts at bike shops and restaurants around the country. Show your sticker at participating locations and start saving on repairs, gear and even coffee. With the extra cash you could consider springing for a cup holder. Bike cup holders attach to your handlebars so you can still enjoy that delicious beverage, and let’s be honest, the morning workout will wake you up way more than the caffeine.