High gas prices making you think of bicycle commuting?

Have high gas prices been making you think about commuting to work by bicycle?

Bicycle commuting is a very practical way to get to work, work some pleasant exercise into the day, and save a bunch of automobile fuel and maintenance.

Especially if you are already riding your bicycle for recreation, it is a simple step to start riding to work occasionally, too.

Here are some tips recommended by seasoned bicycle commuters:
  • Don't make it an all-or-nothing proposition. If you ride your bike even one or two times a week, it's that much money saved and that many more miles in your weekly riding schedule. If you don't like to ride in the rain--don't! If you don't like to ride in the cold--don't! Ride the days you can and count every one a success.

  • Consider carrying heavy gear or extra changes of clothes on the day(s) you do drive, leaving a supply of things at work for the days you ride. For instance, some bike commuters drive or use transit one day a week and use that day to bring changes of clothes for the other four days.

  • Consider combining your bike trip with transit. In major cities in Missouri--St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbia, Springfield--you can usually put your bike on bus bike racks or roll your bike onto the light rail cars (check with local transit operators for details and availability).

  • Find a nice bicycleable route. This probably won't be the same way you drive to work. Look for quieter side streets that parallel the main roads you likely drive on. (All known bicycle maps for Missouri communities are listed on MoBikeFed's Maps and Routes Page.)

  • Test your route by driving it and/or by riding on a day when you don't have pressure to be anywhere on time--like on a weekend. Discuss possible bicycle routes with an avid bicyclist or ask for suggestions on bicycling email lists.

  • When it comes time to actually commute, consider avoiding rush hour if you can. Roads that are horrible at 8AM (for both driving and bicycling) are often just fine at 7AM or 9AM.

  • Consider a rack and panniers for your bike. They're just not that expensive when you compare them to the price of a tank of gas . . .

  • Your recreational bike may not be best as a commuter. In a commuting bike, look for something sturdy with puncture-resistant tires, rack, and fenders. If you have to leave it locked outside all day, a rugged but relatively inexpensive bike may be a good choice.

  • Carry essential tools--like a spare tube, patch kit, tire pump, necessary wrenches--and know how to use them. Or subscribe to a service like the Better World Club that will rescue you in case of bike problems.

  • Follow all the usual safe bicycling rules. Ride with traffic, not against it. Stop and yield to cross-traffic when entering a road from a driveway and at stop signs and stop lights. Generally ride on the right of the roadway, but far enough (2-4 feet) from the edge of pavement or curb that curbs, grates, and debris won't make you fall. For more details, see MoBikeFed's Safety & Skills page.
A few web sites with good bicycle commuting advice: