Urban Commuting 101

Have you ever considered parking the car and riding your bike as a primary mode of commuting? Then this Wordpress is for you!

In March of 2012 I bought an urban commuting bike (Trek Coco). This blog tries to cover all of the reasons why it took me so long to change over to my bike and to encourage you to consider giving it a “spin”.

There are no showers at my destination

Not only are there no showers at my destination but who has the time? Ride ready for the day. You do not need to ride like you are in the “tour de France”. Keep your speeds around 20 km/hour and have a water bottle on board. Upon arrival allow your body to naturally cool down and dry. Long hair, no problem, braid or bundle it up under your helmet, release it upon arrival and do not brush it until it dries out or pack a portable hair dryer and give it a quick dry.

I Need to Look Professional

Wearing a suit and tie? Carefully pack your jacket and tie in a saddlebag and consider a short sleeved cotton shirt. Wearing a dress/Skirt is easy with these quick steps:
• Have a skirt guard installed on your rear tire to keep long skirts clear of the spokes
• Short Skirt: Wear biking shorts underneath your skirt; or pack your skirt
• Long Skirt: Roll the front hem of the skirt around a bungee (shock) cord and use a close pin to hold it in place. Then hook the ends of the bungee cord to the underside of your bike seat. This ensures it will not fly up in the wind.

I Have too much “Stuff” to Take each day

I typically ride with approximately 10 pounds of “stuff” but it is not uncommon for me to ride with 30 pounds of “stuff” including: shoes; computer; blackberry; wallet; keys; rain gear; bike lights; tire repair kit; bike lock; reflective night clothing; electronic tablet; City Council Briefing Notes; other paperwork; lunch and water. I ride with a front basket; a rear carrier and two bike bags. Once loaded, the weight is forgotten. I ride with the Canadian made (Guelph, Ontario) Arkel Switchback 2.0 Bike Pannier that comes with a lifetime warranty, is waterproof and converts to a backpack.

Forcast is chance of Rain

You will not melt in the rain and your bike is ok with it too. For urban commuting you need to invest in a full set of fenders for your bike and some good rain gear. I got my gear in Europe because they figured out the benefits of active transportation decades ago and bike gear is CHEAP. Check outdoor adventure stores for good fully waterproof (but breathable) gear and just do it! It can be daunting, but in 800 km of commuting last year I can only remember one day that I found myself caught in a driving rain. My gear kept me 100 percent dry and to be honest, I felt a sense of real accomplishment when I completed the ride. I am riding in the winter too with insulated riding pants; my ski jacket and balaclava.

I Live too far away from Work

Try it! Google Map your route using the bike option and off-road trails. You might find a more direct path with fewer hills to climb that you never knew was there! Any commute 10 km or less is perfect for me and that how I decide if I will ride. It is also easy to ride to the bus depot and board the bus. This type of multi-mode commuting is becoming the norm in many urban areas.

I am out of Shape and have bad Knees

Buy a bike from an actual bike shop. There are many “peddle forward” urban commuting bikes built especially for people with knee complaints. An excellent bike shop owner will help “fit” the bike to you, your commuting choice and ability. A good bike is not much more expensive than the big box stores, but they will be better made and much lighter. Do not go into commuting with the expectation that you have to be in great shape it will come over time. Set your own pace based on how tired you feel and how confident you feel on the road, dismount at cross-walks and walk your bike or take regular breaks along the way to catch your breath. No one is judging you, but you.

But Why? Why even Try?

My urban commuter bicycle has been the only way I could find time to incorporate exercise into my daily routine. In the past I have managed to lose weight, but without a consistent exercise routine could never keep it off; my bike has changed that. I might say I will go to the gym but the excuses will pile up. When my teenager takes the car in the morning and I need to get to work, there are no excuses and the bike looks like a fine choice.