Bicycling is a healthy, economical and fun way to get to work, to the store, go out for lunch with friends or coworkers, explore Virginia’s parks, discover Virginia’s natural wonders, beauty, and history, or just enjoy a family outing. Maybe you’ve thought about trying it, but you really don’t know where to begin. Or maybe you are an avid bicyclist and want to discover new places to go or additional ways to enjoy biking. Bike!VA has information, tips and resources to help you discover all of your bicycling possibilities.
Bike to Work
Bicycle to work – you’ll save money, improve your physical and mental health, and improve the environment along the way.
Tips to Get Started
Get the Right Bike
There are several types of bicycles and choosing one depends on your level of comfort and road surface. Bike shops will allow you to test drive bikes. Find the bike that is right for you. Proper bike sizing is critical to effectively controlling your bike and having a comfortable and safe ride.
Bike Maintenance and Repairs
Keeping your bike maintained is key to having a safe and enjoyable commute! Be prepared for repairs. Make sure you know how to fix a flat tire and do minor repairs before you get stuck in a sticky situation! Carry a spare inner tube, pump and repair kit.
Don’t Forget Your ABCs
A - Is For Air: • Inflate tires to rated pressure. • Use a pressure gauge to ensure proper pressure. • Check for damage to tire tread and sidewall.
B - Is For Brakes: Keep your breaks in good working condition. • Inspect pads for wear. • Check pad adjustment. • Check brake lever clearance: at least 1 inch between bar and lever.
C - Is For Cranks & Chain: • Check crank bolts. • Check your chain for wear or rust. Inflate tires to rated pressure.
Wearing a helmet can significantly reduce the chance of head injury in the event of a fall or collision.
Make sure your helmet fits properly. Your helmet should sit on your head low, level, and snug. Helmet straps tend to loosen over time, so tighten the straps if you can move your helmet more than an inch in any direction.
Helmets should always be replaced after a crash.
See and Be Seen
Make eye contact and stay alert. Watch drivers' eyes to ensure they see you. Expect cars to make rolling stops and not see you. Don't wear headphones, your hearing is your second most important sense.
Use a Use flashing lights on the front and rear of your bike and wear bright clothing. Use hand signal and be very explicit when changing lanes or turning.
Wearing bright and reflective clothing and accessories can help you be more visible to other road users. Reflective arm or leg bands, safety vests, or light-colored clothing can increase your visibility, especially at night.
Have a bike bell or be willing to use your voice, LOUDLY so pedestrians and other bicyclists know you are coming.
Prepare for Bad Weather
Breathable materials can help reduce overheating and sweating in rainy weather.
Clothes with proper ventilation can also keep you dry and comfortable.
Rain pants and shoe covers can help keep your feet dry.
For cold weather, it is important to dress in layers, so you can adapt when you start to work up a sweat.
It’s best to wear a thin, wicking layer against your skin to stay dry under an insulating layer on top. If wearing a jacket, be sure it is breathable and has plenty of ventilation.
It’s easy to lose body heat from your head, so don’t forget to wear ear warmers or a hat.
Plan Your Trip
By planning your commute route ahead of time, you can ride with more confidence and decrease your ride time. A test ride on a day off is ideal to be sure it fits your commute time and fitness level. Consider asking work colleagues for advice: you may find others who already bike commute or are considering doing so.
Have a backup plan. Have a bus fare handy or have someone to call in case the weather turns too bad to ride or you bike is in no condition to ride.
Get Equipped to Enjoy Yourself
Choose a bike you’ll enjoy riding. Make sure it’s the right size and style, and that the seat is comfortable for you. You might want to install a bike basket to hold your backpack and other belongings. The staff at your local bike shop can help find the bike that fits you and your style.
Also, don’t think riding a bike means decking yourself out in Lycra. You can wear your own work clothes, as long as you can ride a bike in them.
And remember, you don’t have to bike every day. It may be too hot, or raining, or snowing or maybe you just don’t feel like it. But even biking a few times a month can improve your mood and your physical health.