|12 steps to get your bike commute
6. Learn the rules of the road
Most states have a department of transportation,
which offers information on traffic laws, including how they apply
to cyclists. Sometimes you can get the lowdown simply by visiting
the DOT's Web site. Most states classify bicycles as vehicles, which
means that bike riders must follow the same rules as motorists (riding
in the same direction as other traffic, signaling turns, etc.).
Some cities, including Washington, D.C.; Santa Barbara,
Calif., and Seattle, offer or are in the process of setting up "bike
stations," secure parking stations for bikes, as well as other
amenities. Otherwise, a simple bike rack at work may suffice. If
there isn't one, see if your employer or the owner of the building
is willing to put one in. Sometimes municipalities or local bike
shops offer free (or subsidized) bike racks. Also, if office space
is ample, you may be able to find a spare corner where your bike
can stay while you're working.
8. Devise a cleanup
Does your employer offer shower facilities or a discount
on a health club membership? If you can't shower on the premises,
you may be able to shower at a nearby health club or bike station.
If not, you can use a restroom's sink to do quick a splash bath (clean up after yourself if you want to be welcome a second time). Depending on how hot it gets where you live and how long your
commute is, you may find that you don't require a massive cleanup
to be presentable.
9. Carry flat
If you ride regularly, sooner or later you
may get a flat tire. Always bring along a spare tube, tire irons
and a pump. Before you have to change a tire out in the field, practice
at home. Have a more experienced rider or your bike mechanic show
you how to do it.
10. Learn emergency
Although flat tires are normally the worst thing
you'll encounter on the road, it's a good idea to know how to perform
emergency repairs. Knowing how to put your chain back on, how to
keep your brake from rubbing and how to adjust your saddle can make
the difference between a good ride and a bad one. Many bike shops
routinely offer free maintenance clinics so you can learn emergency
repairs and how to keep your bicycle in good working order.
your bike before every ride
Check your tire pressure and
pump your tires up to the appropriate pressure, and you'll reduce
your risk of pinch flats. Also make sure the brakes are working
and that your bike is shifting properly.
Regularly clean your bike, lube your
chain and inflate your tires. Chains get stretched and need to be
replaced. Tires can lose their treads. Brakes get worn. The wear
and tear of riding and hitting bumps can loosen handle bars and
other vital parts. Have your bike regularly tuned up at a bike shop.
How often you get a tuneup depends on how many miles you are putting
on your bike. Try for a checkup every 2,000 to 3,000 miles -- or
sooner if your bike stops working properly or starts making noises
that you can't explain.
Back to: "The
bike-to-work alternative: Save money and stay fit"