Biking to Work Mysteries Revealed

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Bike commuters. We come in all shapes and sizes, in clothing ranging from business casual to spandex, and on a variety of bicycles. The logistics behind it aren’t always obvious to onlookers so questions come up. Hopefully providing answers will encourage more people to join us on the road.

1. Why do you bike to work? For those who don’t live close to a train or bus stop, it can be easier to start pedaling. Most people find it more relaxing than taking public transit. It helps clear the mind and can be a kind of meditation at the beginning and end of the day. There is also something to be said for being in control of your own commute. There isn’t much worse than hearing that fuzzy intercom voice on the train say, “We are temporarily delayed and will be moving shortly.” How long is “temporarily”? Whose definition of “shortly” are we using?

2. How much earlier do you have to wake up? Depending on traffic or train delays/transfers, biking might actually save you time in the morning! One of my friends saves 15-30 minutes. For me the bike commute is only five minutes longer than by train.

3. What do you do with your work clothes? If the weather is nice enough and you don’t sweat much, chances are you’re going to roll up your pants’ leg (so it doesn’t touch the chain) and head to work. If the weather isn’t ideal then you’ll probably want to neatly fold your clothes and put them into a waterproof bag; you can change when you get to work. You can buy wrinkle remover spray and keep it at work if needed. Finally, if you have a few hangers at work and some storage space you might bring all of your clothes for the week on one day and then go back and forth in workout clothes.

4. Don’t you get sweaty and gross? Many federal offices have a gym with a shower. If you feel it’s warranted, use it! Make sure to incorporate it into your morning timeline so you aren’t late. My roommate’s facility does not have a shower. She explains, “If I start sweating, I just bike slower.” Problem solved.

5. Where do you put your bike? Some people are uncomfortable leaving their bikes outside, even if it is locked up. If your building has a parking garage, chances are it has a bike rack. If there is no garage or no rack, ask the building manager if you can bring your bike inside. Right now mine is leaning against a wall by my cubicle.

6. Do you feel safe? Yes I do. I bike defensively, assuming that vehicles cannot see me and will not do the correct thing. The first time you bike on the road should not be the day you start commuting on your bike. Once you feel comfortable and confident and have learned all the safety rules, go for it!

There are so many positives to biking to work; it’s worth figuring out how to make it happen. If you have ever thought about it but were too intimidated, find a colleague who bikes and ask him/her all of your remaining questions. If you live on the route, he/she may even offer to “pick you up” on the way until you’re confident enough to go alone.

If you have more questions or tips about biking to work, please leave them in the comments below!

Jocelyn is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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11 Comments

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Profile Photo LaRel Rogers

Hi Jocelyn, thanks for sharing! Although I don’t bike to work – live in MD and work in DC – I wish I could! I was even thinking about bringing my bike on the marc train and then once I get off at Union Station biking the rest of the way! From this post I know I will need a waterproof bag + wrinkle remover spray! Thanks again for sharing!

taraj

Thanks Jocelyn! Great advice and thanks for the encouragement! I am new to biking… I hope to become comfortable and confident enough to start commuting to work.

Profile Photo Christine Burke

I am a fellow bike to worker! In D.C. it’s the best option for commuting in my opinion. Gets the blood pumping in the morning and no metro delays! One piece of advice is to try to find the roads with secluded bike lanes. They make it a LOT safer and you don’t have to worry as much about crazy drivers or pedestrians.

Profile Photo Jocelyn

I agree with you completely. One way to do this is through googlemaps on the bicycle function, as Michael points out below. Although it’s in beta testing, I’ve had great luck with googlemaps choosing safe routes for me with bike lanes and trails.

Kathleen Pagan

I am glad to see an article promoting bicycling to work–the benefits (health, environmental, economic) are many to individuals and communities. However while I understand that work attire varies, the photo image would in my opinion possibly cause some persons to not read the article….why not (also) have a photo of persons in (more conventional) office attire….and wearing a helmet which is recommended for safety by most bike advocacy groups. “A picture is worth a thousand words”

Michael Jones

I am currently working for the VA in Denver and ride quite regularly. We have an awesome trail system that links to several published bike routes. Google maps will even guide you on the safest routes for your bike. I moved here from MD and while working in DC I combined the rail system into my rides just to stay out of some the trickier traffic spots in and around DC. I keep clothes in my office and thankfully we do have a gym with a shower in my building. The cost savings on gas, the health benefits, and the sure joy of being in control of my time make this a life style everyone should at least try if they are able. Starting and ending your day with exercise is better than therapy and a lot less costly. Reward yourself with some dark chocolate at the end of your day and sleep like a champ. Be safe fellow pedal-flyers and Happy commuting!

Elizabeth

I do a lot of Bikeshare. I do have my own personal bike and ride that sometimes, but there are days (and locations) when a hybrid commute of metro/Bikeshare makes sense. It sure solves the lock-up-the-bike problem!

Profile Photo Jocelyn

There are definitely days when I don’t bike to work. Chicago winters create a few hazards. Great point on the hybrid option! Taking the train on Mondays and Fridays can also allow people to bring their week’s worth of clothes to and fro with ease.

Joe Flood

You can also consider biking part of the way to work. For example, I bike a mile to the Metro every morning. Also, there are a lot of new varieties of “city bikes” out there, with fenders, racks and even cupholders. You don’t need an expensive road bike and spandex to bike to work.