There are so many compelling reasons to begin bike commuting to work each day. It will energize your body and mind like nothing else, leaving you feeling refreshed and focused when you arrive at the office.
You’ll quickly get into better shape without tedious trips to the gym, and feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment delivering both an invigorating workout and environmental benefit on your commute.
Financially, it’s a smart move too. Even expensive electric bikes will pay for themselves within a few years given today’s gas prices, saving you significant money in the long run.
Of course, a regular bike is perfectly sufficient and money saved starts instantly. Beyond these practical incentives, my daily bike commute is a chance to unwind between home and work.
Without the stresses of driving and traffic, it’s an opportunity to take in scenic views, enjoy interesting podcasts or music, and begin the day on the right foot. The lifestyle benefits are just as real as the physical and financial ones.
If you’re ready to experience the joys and advantages of bike commuting for yourself, just one question remains: how to plan your bike commute route.
In this article, I’ll provide tips for finding the safest and most enjoyable route to your destination. However, you get started, here’s to embarking on a rewarding bike commute and all the richness it will bring to your day.
Google Maps is Your Friend
As an avid cyclist, one of my go-to tools for finding the ideal route is Google Maps. When I first started biking around the city, Google Maps became my trusted companion in navigating to my destination while avoiding busy roads.
Its “bicycling” mode enables you to choose cycling-friendly paths for a safer and more enjoyable ride.
My primary goal when biking is to steer clear of vehicles as much as possible. As cyclists, we are safer the further we remain from cars and trucks.
While completely avoiding vehicles may be impossible depending on your location, Google Maps can help you find routes with minimal traffic. Less traffic means a more peaceful ride and decreased risk of accidents.
To use this handy feature, open Google Maps on your browser or mobile app and enter your starting point and destination.
Click “Directions”, then click the “Bicycling” icon to switch from driving to cycling directions. Google Maps will recalculate your route to favor roads and paths better suited for bikes.
Though not perfect, it does a reasonably good job of avoiding busy streets. For the most accurate directions in your area, you may need to combine its suggestions with your own local knowledge.
With some experimentation, Google Maps can help you discover the safest and most scenic bike routes around.
Talk with other Bike Commuters and Cyclists
While tools like Google Maps can suggest bike-friendly routes, nothing beats the expertise of locals who ride regularly.
Whether you know fellow cyclists personally or visit your local bike shop, connecting with those immersed in your city’s biking community is invaluable in finding the best path to your destination.
As avid cyclists, my fellow riders know our city’s roads far better than any map. They’re aware of trails and routes ideal for commuting, as well as roads best avoided.
Don’t hesitate to ask for recommendations – chances are they’ll be thrilled to share their knowledge and help you discover the perfect bike route.
If you’re new to biking in the area and don’t yet know other cyclists, your local bike shop is an excellent resource. Employees are often enthusiasts themselves, extremely knowledgeable about safe riding spots, and eager to welcome newcomers to the community.
Stop by and introduce yourself, mentioning you’re looking to start bike commuting. They’ll likely offer helpful advice and possibly even give you a tour of recommended roads and paths.
Connecting with those immersed in the local cycling community is the best way to gather guidance for safe and scenic riding. While apps and maps have their benefits, human insight is invaluable in discovering bike routes ideal for your unique needs.
Taking advantage of this resource can make your transition to bike commuting safer, easier, and more enjoyable.
You don’t Have to Bike the WHOLE Way
While bike commuting every day would be ideal, I understand that it’s not feasible for everyone’s circumstances. If the distance is too far, the route too dangerous, or time too limited, cycling the entire way may not be practical.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate biking into your commute. With some creativity, you can enjoy the benefits of bike commuting even with limitations.
For longer distances, consider driving partway and cycling the remainder of the route. This allows you to cover more ground while still getting exercise and fresh air on your bike.
If your schedule is tight or the route challenging, try biking to a nearby bus or train stop and continuing your commute on public transit. Every bit of biking helps, so don’t feel that you need to ride the entire distance to gain the rewards.
With safety concerns, explore alternative routes or see if you feel more comfortable riding at off-peak hours when there are fewer vehicles on the road.
While bike infrastructure in many areas is lacking, routing apps can help you find quieter roads and paths. If time only allows for one or two days a week of bike commuting, start there and try to build from it.
While cycling your entire commute daily would be ideal, do what works with your unique schedule and route. Even incorporating biking for just part of your commute or for certain days of the week can provide benefits.
Get creative and focus on what’s feasible for you, rather than what isn’t. Every cycling commute, regardless of distance or frequency, contributes to a healthier, more sustainable community.
Learn More: Night Bike Ride
Test Your Bike Commute Route Before the First Ride
As a new bike commuter, my recommendation is to test your chosen route before relying on it for your actual commute to work.
While cycling in may seem like a simple endeavor, things like traffic, route conditions, and timing can be difficult to anticipate without first-hand experience.
By taking a practice ride on the weekend when schedules are more flexible, you’ll gain valuable insights into what to expect for your commute.
Riding the route ahead of time allows you to confirm that the roads and paths you’ve chosen are indeed suitable and safe for biking.
You’ll be able to determine if there are any particularly challenging or hazardous areas to be aware of, or if alternate routes would be better options.
You’ll also get a sense of how long the commute will take so you can leave appropriate time, especially important for any connections to public transit.
The practice run will help ensure your first commute goes smoothly and leaves you feeling confident about your chosen route going forward.
Taking the time to test your route before relying on it for work is time well spent. While apps and maps can provide a starting point, they don’t replace the insights of experiencing the route yourself.
By going the extra mile to prepare, you’ll feel more at ease and enthusiastic about bike commuting to the office. Here’s to a practice ride and a successful first commute!
Where’s the Sun going to be?
It is important to be aware of the position of the sun when cycling, as it can impact visibility for yourself and others.
During sunrise and sunset, the sun’s lateral position can make it difficult for drivers to see cyclists riding in the same direction as the sun’s glare.
While not always avoidable, I recommend selecting a cycling route and schedule that minimizes prolonged riding directly towards the sun during low-light periods when possible.
Seasoned cyclists recommend becoming familiar with your local roads and traffic patterns to determine the safest and most enjoyable route for your needs.
Discussing recommendations with fellow cyclists and using resources like Google Maps can help in finding an optimal cycling path. The more you ride, the more you will learn how to refine your route for the best experience.
With some initial planning and experience, cycling can prove an invaluable transportation method. Please reach out if you have any concerns or require further assistance. Enjoy the ride!