Making a lifestyle change involves many factors, including making the commute to work easier and less of a hassle.
Imagine if you could eliminate the pain of being stuck in traffic and then parking your car. Imagine if you could eliminate the expense of gas, maintenance, tolls, and parking.
What about waiting for public transit and making connections that slow them down?
There are also health reasons. Instead of driving to the gym before or after work, again sitting in traffic, why not exercise on the way to work?
They often think about it but then can't figure out how to make it work. The distance is too long or the terrain is too hilly. They may be concerned about sweating.
My goal for this post is to demonstrate that almost anyone can do at least some of their commuting by bike, particularly on an electric bike. In some instances, it may even be a year-round mode of transportation.
First, you and your comfort.
There's a part about gear, and a part about your route, both of which are very important for your comfort.
Your bike should fit you well. The clothing you wear should also work for you, not against you. To feel confident on the road, you need to be seen and safe. No matter how you travel, you need to feel like you belong on the road.
Most of us need to show up to work clean and not dripping with sweat. How can we accomplish this?
Depending on your situation and the facilities available to you, you have many options.
Is there a place for you to take a shower at work? Your workplace may have one of these. You may have to search for it if it's not immediately apparent. You might find out more by asking other cyclists at your workplace. You could also ask people in facilities or housekeeping. They might also know.
But what if none of these options are available? Well, all is not lost! One of the best inventions of the last 40 years is the now ubiquitous “baby wipe”. Keep a box of these in your desk or locker, and use one of the stalls in the washroom to freshen up. I like to wait a few minutes after I arrive at the office to cool down a little bit, and then change out of my cycling clothes, clean up using the towels, and then get dressed. This works really well and nobody will ever know you didn’t just come straight out of the shower!
Here too, an electric bike is a tool that makes riding to work easier:
Just don’t sweat at all, to begin with! When you’re riding in, take it easy and let the bike do the work for you. Pedal lightly, and dress in a way that keeps you cool. If you don’t exert more effort than you would by walking, you won’t sweat any more than you would walking. Often, it’s even less, as you’ve got that nice, cool 15 mph breeze coming over you. You’ll get your cardio exercise on the way home since you have a shower there!
When dressing for a ride, obviously you need to take the weather into account.
One thing I learned after many years of traveling by bike is that when dressing for cold weather, it’s important to make sure not to over-dress. If you aren’t slightly chilly when you start out, I guarantee you’ll end up way too warm very soon, likely within a couple of minutes. Layers are also your friend. Dress in layers; that way if you need more or less protection, you can add or remove an item of clothing. You don’t want to have to choose between freezing in your tee-shirt and sweating like crazy in your down parka.
Now, let’s talk about routes
What makes a good car route may not make a good bike route. We tend to focus on the roads that take us to our destination the fastest when we drive, and the same applies when we ride. There are, however, some differences.
Traffic lights and stop signs are two of the most common. Whenever we choose a route for our car, we search for routes that have the least number of these, since each one slows us down. It's not uncommon in many cities to have to wait for several cycles of the light to get through an intersection during rush hour.
Finally, consider time
Keeping your travel time estimates realistic will prevent you from constantly rushing. Make sure you arrive early at work if you need to be at work at 9AM sharp. While this applies to any method of commuting (how many times have you cursed the traffic making you late in your car? ), it is even more relevant when cycling.c Taking risks to get there on time is not something you want to bike commuting times can be more consistent and reliable than other modes of transportation since unexpectedly bad traffic slows you down less. Once you know how long it takes you, you can adjust your departure time accordingly.
Last but not least, try out any new route before relying on it to get to work on time.cc Go on a non-workday first, or, if you can't, leave twice as much time as you think you'll need. My recommendation is to choose option one. You can focus more on the ride, not the timing or traffic, since traffic will likely be lighter. You can also adjust your route if necessary. You might find a better route than the one you planned, for instance. You have the opportunity to investigate it further.