We covered the top 7 reasons to ride a bike to work, but maybe you still have some nagging doubts or barriers that seem insurmountable. Here are a few of the most common and how you can get past them:
I’ll arrive at work all sweaty
By taking the step of riding to work you might just get your employer to start seeing the advantages of making your workplace more bike friendly. If you have no showers available in your office maybe there is a local gym close by that you can use. If not, just give yourself lots of time and ride at a relaxed pace. You can then ride a bit harder on the way home if you want to turn your commute into a workout. You can always bring a change of clothes and some baby wipes for a quick clean when you arrive at work. Alternatively you can keep a wash cloth and towel at the office to freshen up when you arrive. (thanks Maureen for your comment)
It’s too dangerous
While there is no guarantee you will never get injured riding a bike, there is safety in numbers. The more of us that ride bikes, the more our culture begins to expect and accept bikes. Over many years of getting around by bike, I have found a few simple things that help make riding pretty darn safe:
- Communicate: Know your signals and use them. Drivers for the most part will accept you and in many cases even respect you if you communicate with them. And don’t forget to shoulder check before you make any signals.
- Ride a bit further from the curb (at least 1 metre) and well outside of the door zone of parked cars.
- Ride in a straight line as much as possible – don’t weave in and out. You need to be predictable and stay in the motorist’s field of vision.
- Don’t pass cars on the right along the curb. It creates tension and in fact is against the law. Instead just take your place in line or you can always get off your bike and walk past the traffic on the sidewalk and remount when possible.
- Stay off the sidewalk. Sidewalks are for walking, it is in the name. At intersections you are far move vulnerable because cars are simply not looking for bikes on the sidewalk.
- Practice simple skills like riding in a straight line while you shoulder check and signal. It is not as easy as it sounds.
I need my car at work
Not everyone can ride to work and there are some jobs that require a car for work-related travel. If this is you, you might want to ask yourself if you need it every day. Are there days when your schedule doesn’t require a car or can you schedule those days on your own? Maybe you could use your bike or bus for some of those commitments, or carpool with a co-worker. It may also be worth exploring the possibility of using Peg City Car Co-op for the times that you need a car for work-related travel. If your employer signs up for a membership, it would benefit all employees who occasionally need access to a car during the day for off-site meetings. (Thanks for this suggestion, Josh.) It’s worth asking the questions to gain all the benefits of riding a bike.
I have to pick up my kids
Another common reason people give for not cycling to work is the need to pick up their kids after work, or they worry “what happens if my child gets sick at school?” First, instead of dropping off your kids by car, why not use bikes and let them enjoy getting to school under their own power? It’s a great time to interact with your kids plus you can teach them to be safe bike riders along the way. Then when they are old enough, you will have an independent child with the knowledge to ride to school on their own. Check out our tips for biking with your kids. Second, having had to deal with sick children over the years while commuting daily by bike has certainly taught me that the vast majority of the time the situation is not that serious. If it is, the school officials and teachers will likely have taken care of it even before you arrive in your car. When I did need to get there quickly, I knew there was always the option of taking a cab. The cost of that cab ride is minimal compared with the money saved by not driving your car to work every day.
I need to look professional
Concerns about helmet hair, make-up and a professional dress code can be keeping some people from riding. Adopt a European approach and ride in your work clothes. Pedalling at an easy pace and choosing a step-through bike with fenders and a chain guard can help your clothes stay clean and ensure you arrive looking fresh. If you want to ride fast, store what you need at the office (clothes, make-up, hair products, etc). Worried about helmet hair? Check out a few tips and recommended bicycling hairstyles.
I have too much stuff to carry
The increase in everyday cycling means there is now a wide range of ways to carry things on your bike – panniers (saddlebags), front or rear baskets, backpack or messenger bag, and bike trailers. You’ll be amazed over time how efficient you can plan and pack what you need. Check out your closest specialty bike shops for options.
I’m not fit enough
Remember that it’s not all or nothing – start with riding one or two days a week. If you have secure storage at your workplace, ride to work one day and catch a bus home. You may even be able to work out something with a co-worker to get a ride home. The next day bus to work and ride home. You can also tuck your bike into the car and park partway to work then ride the remainder.
And if you’re worried about bike theft, here’s how to avoid having your bike stolen.
We hope that we have helped dispel some of your concerns and combined with our 7 reasons to ride a bike to work motivated you to ride. So give it a try! Riding a bike is a fun, a healthy way to commute and will make a positive difference in your life and our environment.