Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bike Commuting 101 - Part 3 (So you want to give it a shot)

Well, you’ll need a bike. Here is a suggestion. Don’t rush out and buy a new bike if you already have one. You want to find out if you like it first. Just take your current bike to the local bike shop and ask them to give it the once-over. While you are there, ask them if they can make sure the bike “fits” you properly. They may charge you a few bucks, but they will check several adjustments and measurements to make sure your bike is adjusted as well as possible for you and your body geometry. Your best bet here is to find a shop that has some people that actually bike commute. Most shops will likely have several employees that bike commute regularly. Ask them who to talk to and then work with that person. Tell them that you just want to try bike commuting with your current bike before making any significant investments. Most bike commuters will go out of their way to help another person get started in bike commuting (maybe it’s because we are all less stressed and just more friendly, but that’s just my biased OPINION).

Once your bike is tuned up, you need to do a little homework. Find a trail/road map of your area (Omaha has a great one) and plot out a route to work. Most major cities have multi-use trails that you can use as part of your route to get you off the roads some of the time. Again, your commuter buddy at the shop will probably know a great way to get from A to B or have some resources for you to use when figuring out your first commuting route. You can also look for routes that put you close to bus transit locations. Many cities (such as Omaha) have bike racks on the front of transit buses. This is also a great way to make a very long bike commute more manageable by riding the bus for a portion of your commute.

Now pick a weekend where you have some time to bike the route. Traffic is usually light on the weekends, and you will have plenty of time to explore your route without pressure to get to work on time. Bring a map of your route and if it’s complicated, bring a list of turns you need to make. Bike the route and take notes of anything you think you will need to remember (heavy traffic crossings, easily missed turns, possible secondary routes, travel time, large potholes, etc) and have fun.

No comments: