Commuter Bike Safety Tips
Biking to and from work may be fun — not to mention it’s a great way to save some money and help the environment — but it does come with an added set of responsibilities. Before changing from four wheels to two, you’ll want to review your bike-to-work safety basics and follow these tips to make your ride, and your work day, a little more comfortable:
Things You’ll Need for the Commute
Here’s a few essentials you’ll want to have in place before you start biking:
Check your gear. The day before you hit the road, give your bike a quick ABC check — air, brakes and chain. Is there enough in your tires? Check the side of your tire for the recommended PSI. Are your brakes in good shape? Look carefully for signs of wear. Keep the chain clean and well lubed. Are your gear shifts working smoothly? If not, head to a bike shop for a tune-up. Doing your ABCs each time you prepare to head out on the road will make for a safer ride.
Protect your head. One of the most important safety protocols: wear a helmet. Find a comfortable, adjustable helmet that’s relatively new, free of cracks or dents, and fits snugly under your chin. Be sure that it adjusts to fit both with and without a hat on — you’ll be glad you checked the fit when you’re riding on cooler days.
Prepare in advance. Riding your bike to work can be great exercise, but that also means you might break a sweat! If you’ve got a shower at work, you’re in luck. Bring an extra change of clothes the day before you plan on riding in, and instead of using a bulky towel to dry off, try using a chamois towel to save space. If your office doesn't have a shower, get deodorant and body wipes on site before you ride in.
Lock your rig. Scope out where you’ll lock up. Highly trafficked areas, ideally with a security camera looking directly at your target location, are key. Protect your bike by using a strong, reliable lock. You can purchase heavy duty ones that might cost a little more upfront, but will better safeguard your bike from theft.
Ride Safely When You Bike to Work
Getting to and from work on your bike is all about staying safe. Here’s what you need to know:
Test the waters. Over the weekend, ride in to work and get an idea of how long it will take to bike there. Chart out your directions with an app that maps routes specifically for bikes and take bike paths whenever available. Verify that your lock fits and secures the bike, too.
Remember, you’re still a vehicle. Just like any other vehicle on the road, you’re required to obey stop lights and street signs. Other rules of driving also pertain to you, such as yielding to pedestrians. It’ll be in your favor to read up on rules to follow as a biker. This way you stay safe and keep other drivers and bikers on the road safe as well.
Be predictable. Make it easy for cars to share the road with you. Using hand signals lets people around you know what your next move is going to be.
Stay on the defensive. Though they should be, many drivers aren’t always looking for bikers. Distracted drivers are your number one concern, so it’s key to stay out of dangerous blind spots.
Don’t get doored. Car doors swinging open as you’re riding by are a risk you’ve got to be aware of. Expect that people exiting their car will not look for bikers and keep a wide gap between yourself and parked cars.
Preparation is Key for Your Bike Ride to Work
Now that you’re ready for the ride, it’s time to suit up and outfit your bike for daily use:
Light up your ride. For safety, make yourself more visible to drivers by mounting a bright white light on the front and a flashing red LED taillight on the back. For an extra kick, pick up a pair of blinking LED shoes! USB rechargeable hardware is worth the investment, too. Make sure to remove the lights and bring them with you when locking up to avoid theft.
Dress comfortably. Sweat-wicking gear that provides a full range of motion can do wonders for your commute. Rain gear is a must-have as well. Pick up a good set of eye protection for day and night commuting and think about investing in padded biker shorts and gloves for a more comfortable ride.
Rack ‘em up. Backpacks and bags can get in your way. A rack on the back with removable saddle bags is the smartest way to go.
Be ready to fix a flat. Getting in the know on how to change a flat will be helpful too. Travel with an extra inner tube if you’ve got the skills and pack tools in the saddle bags.
Have a backup plan. Make arrangements ahead of time for bad weather. Install a ride sharing app on your phone before you start biking so that if you need to be somewhere fast, you’re just a tap away.
Commuting to work can pay off in many ways! Regular cycling has been shown to improve self-esteem, reduce anxiety, and give you more energy throughout the day. But before gearing up for your commuting routine, take a moment and check in with an American Family Insurance agent to review how your bike is protected by your homeowners policy. You’ll feel great knowing that you’re covered on the road ahead.