Bike to Work Day: How to Make It Happen (Even If You Swear You Can't)

No more excuses.

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Think Bike to Work Day is just for jocks, avid cyclists, those who live close to work, millennials, and/or people who are nuts? Look around! Since 2000, bike commuting has grown by 62 percent. It burns calories (not fossil fuels!), and studies have found cyclists are the happiest commuters of all. Here, we bust the five most common excuses and prove that you actually can bike to work on May 20... or all week... or even all month!

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Excuse #1: There's no way to get there by bike.

Fix: That's what Google Maps is for. Hit "directions," then click on the bicycle icon. Bike directions avoid divided highways and roads that don't allow cyclists, and they highlight bike lanes in green. Like anything on the Internet, if it doesn't seem right, it's always smart to truth-check the info with a local bike shop or other local riders.

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Excuse #2: I live too far away to ride to work.

Fix: Drive partway, park, and ride from there.

Excuse #3: The change-of-clothing thing is a hassle.

Fix: You can ride in your work clothes if you keep your cruising speed under control and avoid sweating them up (as one frequent commuter puts it, "think Country Time lemonade commercial, not Tour de France").

Here are a couple tricks that might help:

  • The pencil skirt trick: Carry a pair of bike shorts with you and shimmy them on under your skirt. Then roll your skirt up to your waist (it won't wrinkle if it's in a roll). Ride. Dismount. Unroll. Take off shorts in the restroom/behind a desk/in a closet at your destination.
  • The flowy skirt trick: Divide the skirt into two "pant legs." Stand with feet hip-width apart. Place a quarter a little more than halfway down the back of your skirt. Reach through the front and grab it (you'll be holding material from both the front and back of your skirt). Wrap a hair elastic around the knob made by the quarter. You've effectively just created a pair of riding pants (and saved yourself a Marilyn Monroe moment or getting fabric caught in the spokes)!

Excuse #4: Cars, dogs, and distracted walkers freak me out.

Fix: There are two ways to ride: You can either see every turned wheel, car door, animal, and pedestrian as a huge threat to be hollered at (or frustrated by) and be exhausted by the time you get to work, or you can accept that all those things are always going to be out there and "ride under the crazy." Just mentally duck beneath the surface and you'll find a layer of calm there. Ride in that. This mind trick allows you to notice what's happening and respond to it safely without getting smacked around by it.

Excuse #5: It's not that comfortable.

Fix: If there's a thick layer of dust on your bike, take it to a shop for a tune-up (useful even if you've ridden more recently than that). Also have them check that the setup (your handlebars and seat height) is right for you.

"Bike commuting is about joy," says Chanel Zeisel, general manager of Citi Bike Jersey City. "If you're not feeling that, then take a look at where you're going, how you're eating, and how you're sleeping. It might not be the bike's fault — all those other things might be taking away from your experience."

In other words, treat yourself better and your commute will treat you that way, too.

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