Fitness Club on Two Wheels

by Bonnie McClun

Are you a potential bike commuter?

Are you interested in using your commute time to improve your physical conditioning?

Are you a cycling enthusiast who already enjoys cycling for sport and pleasure?

Are you environmentally concerned?

Are you interested in a cost efficient commute mode?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you have what it takes.. So what's next? What issues need to be considered?

  • traffic
  • your vehicle
  • the route to work
  • you - staying safe & clean
  • parking
  • weather
  • daylight to darkness
  • national Bike Month - get started!

If you maximize your visibility to other road users. obey traffic laws and ride predictably you are at no greater risk cycling than driving a car.

Your vehicle
You do not need a special bicycle to commute. lf your bike is mechanically sound and fits correctly. you have a commuter bike. Good maintenance (either by a bike shop or yourself) is important when you rely on your bike to get you to work on time. Make plans to facilitate carrying "stuff" - a sturdy rear rack and bag for your bike is an option.

The Route to Work
Plan and test ride several routes for traffic considerations at the time of day you will be using them, length and enjoyment. Vary your routes regularly if you can.

Choose an easy pace and pleasurable route when riding to work. and it will begin your day on a pleasant note. Utilize a more taxing route for the ride home and relieve the day's stress through the pedals.

You -staying safe & clean
Protect a very precious asset. Wear a bicycle helmet every time you ride!

Personal hygiene is always a concern when commuting. If your trip is short. you may find riding in business attire realistic. lf your trip is long. you may want to ride in more comfortable clothing and freshen up when you arrive at work. Plan grooming supplies to be stored at work. Shower before leaving home and wipe down at work. Try using pre-moistened baby washcloths - they work nicely on babies. so try babying yourself.

Harried about Helmet Hair? A little creativity goes a long way. Wash your hair in the kitchen sink before others arrive in the morning. or try hair spray - it can work wonders with practice.

Carry your daily needs on your bike or keep several outfits at work and rotate them on days you don't ride.

With a little research, you can a1ways find a bike parking solution. Stash your bike in a covered. secure place like a closet or storage room. Bike parking may exist in nearby buildings or garages. lf your employer doesn't provide parking, make a formal request with other employees. Park outside, but use a good U-lock (or use a bike no one would want).

Keep clean and dry: add fenders to your bike (some are easily removable).

What if it rains? It is easiest to start as a fair-weather commuter. Experiment with rain gear as your commuting becomes more comfortable.

Daylight to Darkness
Know your state or local laws. Minimum requirements are a white light in the front and a red rear reflector. but we strongly recommend always also using a solid or blinking light at the rear of your bicycle to make you more visible. Bicycle lighting systems technology has become quite impressive. Shop around, and select a system that meets the needs of the route you ride. be it lighted city streets or dark country roads.

Give it a try! This year marks the 41sth anniversary of May as National Bike Month. The third Tuesday in May (May 19, 1998) is officially Bike to Work Day. Make this your year to try bicycle commuting! Join the festivities of Bike to Work day; then try one day a week and build up as desired. Still hesitant? Enroll in an Effective CyclingTM Road I course: enhance your vehicular cycling skills and build your confidence about handling roadway situations. To find out about a course in your area, contact a certified Effective Cycling Instructor in your area.

Reprinted from "Bicycle USA", magazine of the League of American Bicyclists, May/Jun 1996. Effective CyclingTM.
For more information about the League of American Bicyclists, visit their web site,, or e-mail them at

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