Commuting 101

Commuting 101

According to the US Census, the percentage of bicycle commuters in Huntsville doubled between 2006 and 2011. (source)

People commute by bicycle for many reasons. Commuting by bike helps reduce pollution, and helps keep you fit. You can save money and get more enjoyment from your commute. Also, you might just get to work quicker on a bike than in a car.

Follow these tips if you are considering commuting to work or school:

Set a goal.

Consider how riding a bike to work or school will affect your schedule, your fitness, and your time at work. You can bike to work for part of the commute and take other forms of transportation for the rest. You’re still making an important difference!

Plan your route.

Your bike to work route will likely be a different route than the route you would drive. Consider using parallel side streets with less traffic, roads with bike lanes, or bike paths. If you’ll be using public transportation as part of the commute, be sure you know their rules for carrying bicycles.

Tell your boss.

Find out where you can park your bike at work, and make sure that location is safe. Lock your bike every time you park it. Also, ask about the employee bike commuter benefit, which is authorized by federal law.

Be fashionably prepared.

Proper attire is key for bicycle safety and your comfort during the work day. On days when you commute to work by bike, wear the proper attire while riding (including clothing with reflective materials), and take a few changes of clothes that suit your job’s dress code. Consider keeping toiletries, a change of clothes, or a towel at work so you can clean up once you arrive.

Know the rules of the road.

State law gives bicyclists the same rights and responsibilities as motorists. When riding, do so only where you can ride legally, obey all traffic signs and signals, and ride safely and predictably at all times. Use the proper hand signals, and make others on the road aware of your presence by making eye contact. If you are riding with the speed of traffic, use the full lane in any scenario.

Light up your bike.

The use of reflectors is not enough in a commuting scenario. Reflectors only work under certain conditions, so they should be supplemented. For your safety, use reflectors, as well as front and rear bike lights that will make you highly visible to vehicles and pedestrians. These lights will be invaluable in rainy, foggy, or nighttime conditions as well.

Check your bike.

Perform an ABC Quick Check (PDF) before each ride, and have your bicycle regularly serviced by a professional to keep it in prime working condition.

Park and lock.

Some employers are located near public bicycle parking racks, and some may provide on-site bicycle parking. Park your bicycle and lock it with a bike lock, or use a security parking area to prevent theft or damage.