11 Tips to Bike to Work Safely and Comfortably

Safely participate in Bike to Work Day, and then keep it up all summer, with these tips.

picture of a young man holding a white bicycle in the sun
Leave your car behind for an enjoyable, healthy commute.
solominviktor / Shutterstock

Now is the perfect time to break free of the car and ride your bike to work. More sunlight and moderate temperatures mean you can ride comfortably and roll into the office without having to change. Even better, riders take to the streets in May to celebrate National Bike Month and Bike to Work Day on May 17, 2019, so you will have plenty of company. (Heads up: Some cities such as San Francisco are celebrating on May 9 this year.)

Riding your bike to work—or even just around town for errands—saves money, boosts your health, and reduces your impact on the environment. It’s also more fun and relaxing than sitting in traffic or on a crowded train, and it will likely take you less time than you think, according to a recent study.

Here’s everything you need to safely and comfortably ride to work all summer long.

1. Map your route.

The route you take every day in your car may not be the safest or fastest way to go on your bike. Before you set out, plan your journey on Google Maps. The handy biking feature allows you to see the best roads and paths for cycling, and it gives you an estimated travel time so you know exactly when you need to leave to make it to your job without rushing.

2. Give yourself extra time.

Now that you know how long it should take, add another 10–15 minutes so you don’t sweat red lights. A slower pace will also help you stay cool and dry in warmer weather.

3. Wear what you want, but bright is better.

You don’t have to look like you just stepped off the Tour de France. You can ride in just about anything, but bright colors and reflective fabrics make you easier to see. If you have a longer commute and you sweat easily, consider wearing athletic clothing and changing when you arrive. (This works especially well for the lucky commuters who have a shower available at the office.) Otherwise, wear your work clothes.

4. Tie it up.

A rubber band, hair tie, or reflective ankle band are helpful to keep pants away from the greasy chain. Long skirts can be tied up, or a penny and a rubber band can transform a skirt into shorts.

5. Wear a helmet.

Your safety is well worth the extra minute it takes to fix your hair when you arrive, so wear a quality helmet. Besides, all your coworkers will notice is your extra-wide smile and naturally rosy cheeks from your pleasant commute.

6. Layer appropriately.

Regardless of what you choose to wear, you will want to dress in layers. It may be uncomfortable, but you want to be slightly cold at first. If you are comfortable when you start peddling, you will be too hot and sweating within a mile or so.

7. Light it up.

Whether you ride at night or in the brightest parts of the day, bike lights help drivers and pedestrians see you. Use a bright white front headlight and a solid or flashing red back light for the best visibility.

8. Secure your stuff.

There are incredible products such as panniers, baskets, and even cargo holds that make it easy to haul just about anything on a bike, but you don’t have to get fancy. A backpack or adjustable cross-body bag that stays tight on your back will easily transport your work supplies and extra change of clothes.

9. Bring water.

Even on a short trip, you may need a sip or two. Plus it will be a nice reminder to hydrate throughout the day.

10. Follow the rules.

Even though you have upgraded to two wheels, you are still treated like a car on the road. Stay off the sidewalks, ride in the same direction as traffic, and generally follow the rules of the road just like you would if you were driving. Signal your turns by pointing or by using traditional driving hand signals to alert cars, pedestrians, and other cyclists where you are going.


11. Know who to call.

Some repairs just can’t be done on your own. AAA Members can call for bicycle roadside assistance and "towing" in event of a bike malfunction.