Seven things you need to know for a successful bike commute

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James Roper riding to work with his son in toddler seat

As part of the recent Canberra Walk and Ride Week, we asked  Canberra's commuter bike riders to share their tips for a successful cycle commute. Here are their top ideas to help get you started.

One: Keep it simple

"You don't need special clothes to ride a bike."     Anthony

Want to ride to work but don't have any lyrca? Not a problem - you don't need special clothes to ride a bike. Ordinary casual clothes are perfectly suitable for short to medium rides at a gentle pace, though its best to avoid floaty fabrics and loose items that might get caught in pedals or wheels. For visibility avoid dark colours, especially at night.

Two: Ride with friends

"Make it a family affair, and all leave home together."      Tim

Thinking about commuting to work? Why not buddy up with a friend or colleague? It's harder to back out of something if you've told someone else you're doing it, even harder when they are on their bike outside your house, waiting to start your ride together! Loving your cycle commute and want to encourage your family to give it a go? Get ready and leave the house together so you can all support each other to stick to the routine.

Three: Mix it up

"You don't need to ride all the way."     Garry 

Almost all Canberra buses now have bike racks, and so will the new light rail vehicles. Check out out the routes and timetables and try riding to your nearest stop. Want more options? Many Canberrans are driving partway to work and riding the rest of the way. Check out the Park and Pedal locations near you. Don’t have a bike rack on your car? Try a folding bike - it sits nicely in the boot, and can be used at lunchtime to get around and explore lunch options! Keep experimenting until you find out what works for you.

Four: Go electric

" My e-bike gives my legs a break and I can still avoid driving."     Glen

If distance is an issue, or you just want a cruisey ride, why not try an e-bike? Around the world e-bikes are beginning to take over trips of 5 – 15 km, traditionally the domain of cars. Pedal-assisted motors really kick in on steep terrain, making the overall ride a shorter and more pleasant journey. People who ride to work on e-bikes describe the effort of a 25 km/hr ride as equivalent to no more than a brisk walk, allowing them to reach the office without breaking a sweat. The 5 km trip from Weston Creek to Woden becomes an easy 10 minute pedal. E-bikes are leading a quiet transport revolution around the world, and are great for people of all ages and fitness levels.

Five: Ask your employer about end of trip facilities

"Demand a lock and access to a shower!"     Phillip

Talk to your employer about investing in bike storage, and access to a shower, locker and change facilities. It’s a great way to demonstrate your support for health and wellbeing in your workplace. Alternatively see if there is a Bike Stop near your workplace – these are Canberra businesses that support cycle commuting by sharing their facilities with riders. Already have great end of trip facilities?  Encourage your workplace to offer their facilities as a bike stop.

Six: Invest in good lighting

"Always ride with your lights on and stay safe."     Ken

With daylight savings over many of us will be riding home as the light is fading and visibility reducing. Wear bright colours or reflective clothing, ride with your lights on, and make sure your lights are bright enough for the environment you are riding in. Batteries that are running out of life will be bright for the first few kilometres but will quickly fade and become barely visible, so charge your lights the night before or change the batteries as required.  Be self sufficient and carry a repair kit and multi tool, to avoid having to phone a friend to pick you up if you get a puncture.

Seven: Don't forget your undies (or Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance)

"Leave your clothes at work."     Clare

A little planning and organisation will make sure you have everything you need for a seamless transition into the working day. Store a set of toiletries and changes of clothes at work. Keep a checklist of what you need near the front door.  Fabrics that don't need ironing are a bonus.  Ask your local laundromat or dry cleaner about discounts to regularly launder a few items each week.

Still not sure?  Just jump on your bike and give it a go. There is nothing better than starting and ending your working day with a bike ride in our beautiful city.

Thanks to Clare, Tim, Don, Mary, Julian, Adrian, Garry, Alison, Ken Phillip, Glen and all the Cycle Works riders for sharing their hints and tips for a successful bike commute.

 

Image: Canberra rider James Roper, sets off for work on the March Cycle Works challenge with his son David.

 

Read more on this topic:

Cycle commuting in Canberra

Making cycling the new normal – challenges to reaching the ACT’s bike commuting target

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