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A Beginner's Guide to Biking to Work

Get Fit, Go Green and Save Money by Biking

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What to Wear—and What Not to Wear
Tanya says gloves and sunglasses aren't just for the elite cyclists or to look cool. They actually serve a purpose.

"Gloves not only reduce the vibration on your hands, but they are critical if you fall," she says. "If you don't have gloves, you are less likely to put out your hands if you are falling, which then results in an injury more serious than a hand scrape."

And the glasses? Basic safety or biking glasses are a must for protecting your eyes from bugs and risk of other debris from a passing car. They're also helpful in the rain and cold as they shelter your eyes from the "misery of pelting rain or eye freeze," Tanya says.

When it comes to apparel, you have to check the weather and be prepared. Moisture-wicking layers are key, as are a few cycling-specific pieces if you're really committed to biking in non-sunny weather conditions. While Garrett and Michelle weren't fans of biking in rain or other severe weather if they can help it, Tanya regularly bikes in rain and the cold.

"I bought a rain-proof cycling jacket that is bright yellow with full side vents and reflective tape, breathable but rainproof bike pants and waterproof shoe covers," she says. "I have different types of gloves for all seasons: fingerless for the summer, full-finger for the spring and fall, and lobster (like mittens, only split in between the middle and ring fingers) for the winter. In the winter, I have a cap for under my helmet, and sometimes will add a scarf if it is below freezing."

And remember, keep changing weather conditions in mind throughout the day so you're prepared for the ride home, too. Weather can change rather quickly in many climates.

Why You Should Give Bike Commuting a Try
Your health. Turning your usual commute into a bicycle workout can burn calories, improve your cardiovascular health and help you lose or maintain your weight.

To save money. Aside from saving gas money, many of our bike commuters cited saving big on parking fees and even car maintenance. Garrett even got rid of his car!

Stress reduction. Instead of getting stuck in traffic and fuming, you could be biking on paths and back roads for an enjoyable start and end to your workday.

"I can leave work after the most aggravating day, and five minutes into the ride I'm feeling more relaxed, even in the pouring rain," Tanya says. "On a beautiful sunny day, it's heaven. I love the feeling of being self-propelled, on my own, enjoying the weather and, when I'm on a side street, enjoying the birds singing in the summer or holiday lights in the winter."

To make the world a better, greener place. Every little eco-friendly initiative helps and bike commuting is definitely a step that makes a difference in reducing your carbon footprint.

It can save time. You might think that biking will make for a longer commute to and from the office, but Michelle found that she could leave her house half an hour later because she didn't have to look for parking. Also, if you bike fast enough to get your heart rate up, you can turn your commute into your cardio, biking right past the gym—talk about multitasking!
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About The Author

Jennipher Walters Jennipher Walters
Jenn is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites FitBottomeGirls.com, FitBottomedMamas.com and FitBottomedEats.com. A certified personal trainer, health coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and is the author of The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet book (Random House, 2014).

See all of Jenn's articles.

Member Comments

  • The article made sense, but who picked the picture of the cyclist in skirt and heels and holding onto the briefcase at her handlebars! Loco! - 5/14/2016 12:09:19 PM
  • I did this years ago when I had a summer job at a plant my Dad's friend managed. It worked good especially as the job was physical, Then the following summer I got NAGGED into buying a CAR and didn't do it anymore. I miss it at times. - 3/8/2016 8:00:07 PM
  • MALONIE86
    Biking to work is one of my favorite forms of exercise- you are thinking about the destination you are going rather than each passing minute such as on a treadmill so it goes by quickly. I prefer going on designated roads or bike paths because I do not trust every driver out there, but it also means not (usually ) having to worry about pedestrians. Do your research, always wear bright colored clothing, and stay alert- it can be a little intimidating before starting out but it's worth the effort! - 3/8/2016 12:54:21 PM
  • Yeah... just mapped out my commute. 35 minutes in the car or 1h 20 minutes by bike before the sun comes up. No thanks, I'd rather have the extra 30 minutes of sleep. - 3/8/2016 11:14:10 AM
  • Really good tips in this article!

    I started biking to work by stages- I would drive about three quarters of the way, park the car and ride the rest of the way in. Then half, then all the way. it really helped get my confidence up riding in traffic.

    I would also suggest investing in a bike rack and panniers. Carrying your necessities in a backpack can mean a very sweaty back! Messenger bags can be great, but I prefer to let the rack carry the pannier that holds my lunch, my phone, my purse, and any work I've taken home.
    - 3/8/2016 9:00:53 AM
  • MISTYPULLEN
    When I had bought my bike in March, I saved almost $100 (1/6) this year just not having to buy bus passes for work and I shaved 43 minutes commute time going to work. When I started riding my bike to work, it was 30 minutes to get there down to just over 17 minutes from getting off my property to work property. If i was still working at that place, I would be down to under 15 minutes. My bike is heavier since i do need stabilizer wheels on it since I do have balance issues. - 11/26/2015 8:44:18 PM
  • I was hoping for more comments from commuters, not people who don't want to. At any rate, for people with too long of a commute to ride both ways, if you feel comfortable leaving your car at work overnight, consider driving in to work with your bike in the trunk, riding your bike home and back again the next morning. Then you can drive your car home that evening. Still saves on gas and is a healthy choice! - 8/3/2015 5:20:39 PM
  • Girl in example isn't wearing helmet. - 6/10/2015 9:04:14 AM
  • I love riding my bike, but I will only do it for exercise. I have no interest to showing up at an event, or at work sweaty. Next, this certainly is not a suitable mode of transport in the heat of Summer or in the cold of Winter, or if you have things to carry for work like a makeup kit , or lighting, and other set fixtures, etc. Nice idea, but it is not practical for all lifestyles. - 4/26/2015 3:13:44 PM
  • My biggest problem is with the picture. She looks great riding the bike but she does not have a helmet on. That is the number one rule for Bike safety, especially riding on the streets. - 4/24/2015 12:46:24 PM
  • ALYCIAVEN
    There are really only two steps to being a bicycle commuter. 1 Get a bike. 2. Ride it to work.

    I love that the photo shows a woman in a dress without a helmet. She looks like an actual bike commuter, not some weekend racer. Plenty of studies show that the more vulnerable you look while riding, the safer you are. So wear a dress, keep your hair down and forgo the helmet and cars will avoid you like the plague. When are people going to start wearing helmets in cars, where the real head injuries occur?

    I ride 15 miles a day to and from my jobs and I love it. I bring deodorant and a hair brush and make sure I have enough time to air out and clean up at work. I haven't had a car in years and use public transit when the weather is bad or can't handle all those hills in the morning. - 4/23/2015 10:09:38 PM
  • I have been bike commuting for the past 6 years, in South Arizona.

    Take your office clothes in your backpack. A quick rinse in the skin at work does wonders if your sweaty. It's really not that bad.

    Definitely figure out your route. But also don't be afraid of it and remember you will find better faster routes as you go. It might be hard work in the beginning, but eventually it will be as easy as driving a car.

    As for the falling: I've only fallen off my bike once. It was my fault I was goofing off and not paying attention, I then over corrected and panicked.

    Gloves: I wore gloves for a while, but found they were more nuisance then help.

    Clothes, watch the length of your pants and shoe laces. I've had several cases of my laces going too long and wrapping around the peddle. The best thing to do is back-peddle until you unwind the laces. And if you have baggy pants they will get caught in the gears.

    Oh! and watch the heat. Az 110 in the summer. Heat sickness comes on quick, I'm not joking. I have been out on a nice, easy Sunday bike ride, happily peddling and the next second I'm dizzy and about to be sick. Carry water, but better carry Gatorade, and if you need to, get out of the heat ASAP.

    But beyond that, biking is a lot of fun. - 4/23/2015 1:31:32 PM
  • Reasonable Requests from a Motorist:
    1) Don't ride in my blind spot.
    2) Don't lean on my car at traffic lights; it's rude and dangerous.
    3) Don't dart across three lanes of traffic so that I have to slam on my brakes to avoid squashing you.
    4) Don't hold up traffic. And by that I mean don't ride on roads where there's not enough room to pass you. If you're going to cause a six-block tailback, don't get upset when people honk and cuss at you. - 4/23/2015 11:19:13 AM
  • Great article, and as one who has cycle-commuted and plans to again in the near future, the author hit all the bases.

    Terribly unfortunate they chose an accompanying photo of a woman on a bicycle WITHOUT A HELMET, though!

    James
    - 4/23/2015 8:40:19 AM
  • Biking would be cool but I have a 25 mile one way commute in terrible congested traffic. I would be terrified of being hit. And we have extremely hot weather in the summer, I would be a hot mess by the time I got to my office. I would do it if I lived closer to the office or I could go a different route that would be safer. - 12/7/2013 8:24:15 PM

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