How to start biking to work

So you’re thinking about cutting the emissions from your daily commute and trying out this biking to work thing! We’re so proud of you! Driving to work each day is obviously a big source of emissions because it is done every week day and even though it’s probably a short drive, all of these small repeated drives eventually build up to having a big impact. If you want a little extra boost of motivation and encouragement, take a second to calculate how many tonnes of emissions you’ll be preventing by biking. We’ll wait 🙂 

Steps:

  1. Google how far it is from your house to work, double the distance (because you have to return home at the end of the day.
  2. Multiple that number by 260 (the approximate number of working days)
  3. Plug that number into the calculator after putting in what kind of car you have.

That’s the tonnage of emissions you’re going to be saving by just biking to work! You could also double up your efforts and buy offsets for any other travels that you do during the year. 

But now, without further ado, let’s get you set up to bike to work!

First point is to either get a good bike or fix up the one that you already have. Ascent Cycle Ltd. (at 330 18 St S) is one of a few local bicycle repair shops that will help get your bike back to tip top shape. 

We’re not the bike experts but there is an absolutely wonderful biking community in Lethbridge that will be able to give you all kinds of information and advice on what kind of bike to purchase or how to keep your bike up to par. In fact, you should join the BikeBridge Cycling Association Facebook group right away! 

Pick up other supplies. Make sure that before you ride you have:

  • A good helmet
  • A bell (or a big truck horn 😛 )
  • A lock with a combination or key
  • A waterbottle holder (optional, but handy)

Next step is to plan out your route. Check out google maps, look at potentially tricky intersections that you’ll encounter, and figure out how much time it will take to travel the route. As part of the planning out process, make sure to do a few practice runs over the weekend or in the evening. There is nothing worse than starting off confidently for work and realizing that the path you thought continued along the whole route, actually ends halfway. There are so many things that we don’t notice when we drive like detailed road conditions, when pathways start and end, which intersections are dangerous, so take some time to familiarize yourself with the route before putting yourself under the pressure of rushing to work on a weekday morning.

Another important step is to figure out where you’re going to park your bike. Finding parking for cars is tricky and although bikes are easier to tuck into nooks, they’re also kind of easy to nick by a passerby. So whether there is a secure bike rack near your work building or you decide to stow it in your office, make sure you have a plan of where you’re going to put it. Also buy a lock to secure your bike.

Consider bike appropriate clothes. Now just because you’re biking to work doesn’t mean that you have to wear some intense gear, but if you work in a formal office, you may want to plan ahead and decide whether you’re going to wear a bikeable outfit or stow a change of clothes at work that you change into. You could even drive to work one day of the week, stow a few clothes like some pants and a few shirts and swap them out over the week for different outfits.

Have a backup plan. So you’ve prepared, you’ve practiced, you’ve packed, and you’ve proudly biked yourself to work this morning, but the clouds are getting darker and more ominous and you’re afraid that it’s going to rain. Are you going to brave the rain and still bike home? Do you keep a big poncho in your office to protect yourself? Do you leave your bike at work and carpool home with a coworker or your partner? Of course it helps to look at the weather forecast ahead of time but making sure to consider a few scenarios and what you’re going to do in those moments is a good idea. 

Have a repair kit and keep your bicycle in good repair. Some useful tools to keep in this kit are:

  • A tire patch kit
  • Oil for lubricating the gears
  • A small tire pump
  • A screwdriver for tightening up loose parts
  • Tape (it’s just always handy to have some)

Make a banging playlist. We want you to be safe so make sure to keep one earbud out so that you can still hear and notice traffic, but also get yourself set up with some encouraging music to listen to on your way to work. 

Congratulations! We’re so proud of you for starting this new habit! Biking not only helps to reduce emissions that we would be releasing if we were driving to work, but it also helps us squeeze in a bit of exercise each day. Pushing that pedal to the road really helps us connect more intimately with the ebb and flow of nature and appreciate this beautiful city that we live in.

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