In case you haven't heard, biking is the new driving. (Or at the very least on Bike to Work Day on May 20.) But don't avoid it just because it feels new or complicated. Use these tips from Chanel Zeisel, general manager of Citi Bike Jersey City, to get in on the fun — even if you haven't been on a bike in a while.
Try it on Sunday first.
Test your bike-to-work route on a quiet day, like a weekend morning. That helps you leave the "did I budget enough time?," "am I wearing the right thing?," and "will this backpack really work?" anxiety at home when the actual day rolls around.
A pregame test also means your bike will be in shape for the actual day. Take it to a shop for a tune-up if you had to work hard to remove layers of dust.
"You're going to feel a lot more confident on your bike if you have confidence in your equipment," Zeisel says.
Borrow your kid's bike bell.
When you're cycling, people can't hear you coming up behind them. You can use your voice to tell them you're, say, on their left. But a bike bell is even better.
"People recognize the sound and know what's coming," Zeisel says.
Zeisel herself, who commutes about 12 miles each way nearly every day, takes things one step further.
"I have a little Bluetooth speaker that clips onto my backpack strap. Not only do I get to ride to the music I like, but other people can hear me — and I keep it low enough that I can hear them," she says. "Even better, I see drivers trapped in traffic jams actually relax when I play Marvin Gaye."
Ride at the speed of… you.
Save pushing your limits for spin class. On your commute, go with the speed that makes you comfortable.
"There's no shame in getting off your bike and pushing it through uncomfortable intersections or traffic situations," Zeisel says.
Go for the yawns.
Be sooooo predictable. Cyclists say 'hold your line,' and that means you need to ride predictably — don't drift left or right without looking first and letting cars know where you're headed. And if you're turning, signal where you're headed. Sounds obvious, but you'd be surprised how often people don't do it. You might know where you're going, but cars and other cyclists don't.
Take a deep breath and give it a shot.
"I failed bike education in third grade. They'd teach you to ride in the parking lot and then they'd let you out on the road. I never made it out to the road," Zeisel says.
Three years ago when she saw the proliferation of bicycles in Manhattan, she thought she'd like to try it herself. Today, she commutes on her bike more than 24 miles a day.
Wear a helmet.
Enough said. In fact, don't ever be seen without one. Now go ride!