Riding your bike for fun and fitness is great, but your bike can be so much more than that. Yes, it’s true; you can get there by bike!
You’ve read this far, which means you're at least thinking about the possibility of spending more time on two wheels. And commuting by bike is a great way to get more saddle time - and front row parking just about everywhere.
Believe it or not, there’s quite a culture of bike commuters here in Charlotte. Most are nothing like the risk-taking, traffic-dodgers you see on YouTube, but it’s safe to say the ones we know are quick to share their tips to what makes bike commuting work for them!
What’s “commute” mean to you?
Generally, commute means “there and back on a regular basis,” but even incorporating a trip to the store, a ride to a friend’s house, or the ice cream shop, is a great way to introduce yourself to the idea of getting somewhere by bike. And if there’s a reward at the end of the journey, it’ll make it even sweeter! Here’s a great way to start. Check out Free Wheelin’ Fridays, a bike commuter breakfast that’ll get you fueled up and excited about riding your bike the other six days of the week!
About the bike:
No, you don’t need an expensive bike to commute. However, you will want a bike that fits you, that’s comfortable, and that you enjoy riding. Look in your garage or basement. Your “commuter” bike may be hiding there, disguised as your old bike.
“There are lots of ways to make most any bike commuter-ready,” said Ben Cooley, owner of Charlotte’s Bicycle Sport. “Road bike, mountain bike, hybrid… they’ve all got potential. It’s all about finding the right bike for the kind of riding you want to do.”
Read Also: Your new “favorite bike”.
About your body:
Don’t want to show up to work or school a sweaty mess? Not all of us have access to showers at work, and that’s where things like baby wipes come in handy. With a travel size package tucked in your bag, you’ll be looking and feeling oh-so-fresh upon arrival! Or, go economy and buy the big package and shove a few in a ziplock baggie.
“If you're starting new to bike commuting, wait a few more weeks until it's cool in the mornings (40's and 50's). This will preemptively solve the show-up-sweaty at work problem,” Matt Magnasco offered up on Facebook. Yes! Fall’s almost here!
Take it with you.
There’s plenty of debate here as to what bag is best for bike commuting. Some folks prefer panniers or “saddle bags”, others like the over-the-shoulder messenger bags, or the old standby: the backpack. Most of us have a backpack that can easily be drafted into service, so it’s a natural place to start. You may find that’s all you really need or want. Or, for more specific trips like the grocery store, you may want a second look at those panniers.
“A pair of Ortleib City Roller panniers,” are Christine Weber’s choice. “100-percent waterproof, and huge!” Christine also recommends compression bags to pack those clothes in tight. Good advice there!
“Planning, preparation, practice and education,” adds Pamela Murray, Cycling Savvy instructor. “Do a dry run, practice, then commute for 4 days in a row. By the 4th day, you'll have it down pat.”
Yep. Practice makes perfect, alright. And like they say, safety is no accident. A helmet is an absolute must, and not the place you’ll want to cheap out to save a few bucks. And daytime running lights - front and rear- can help you be seen.
Thanks to our friends at Charlotte B-Cycle, Crank Mafia, Weekly Rides, Unknown Bike and Brew, Queen City Bicycles, and Bicycle Sport, for all of the input for this piece. Great advice, all!
Like the whole idea of safe streets for getting there by bike? We do, too! Why not consider becoming a Sustain Charlotte member and supporting our work to make Charlotte “that” kind of town?
And get your tickets now for our second annual Biketoberfest! This October 15th event is a great opportunity to experience and explore uptown and historic SouthEnd by bike!
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