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!