Over the past decade, we have seen more people start riding to work. Cycling has a host of health benefits that include improved mental wellbeing, increased cardiovascular fitness, weight loss, and prevention of type 2 diabetes and stroke. Cycling also helps you to save gas money and improves air quality by reducing pollution. If you are considering switching to cycling or increasing your commuting frequency, you will find this guide on how to ride a road bike to work safely useful.
We have featured some tips below that will also address any concerns you may have regarding rain, traffic, appropriate gear and safety.
1. Choose the right bike
Different bikes come with various features designed to optimize performance on different terrains. For instance, a road bike is light to promote precision and speed on paved roads whereas the sturdy gravel bike features wider wheels that improve stability and comfort when riding on off-roads. Wider tires offer better traction when riding in the rain and a compact folding bike provides the best alternative if you will swap to a train at some point on your way to work. It is important to pick a reliable bike that is specifically suited for your intended route so it does not frustrate you with breakdowns and a lot of maintenance.
2. Start with a realistic distance and frequency
There are many cyclists who burn out soon after they begin riding a road bike to work because they set an unrealistic goal. We suggest that new cyclists start by alternating the days they commute or they could ride one way and take a bus or train home or to work. They can then increase the commute frequency as time goes by.
3. Test the routes
Your bike needs a bright light like Seca Race that generates an output of 2,000 lumens to make you visible to other road users. Since you are likely to have poor visibility during early morning and late evening rides, we recommend doing a dry run on a day off or on a weekend where you can ride at your own time and pace and learn the terrain for your future rides to work.
Testing the route will also enable you to estimate the time it will take you to ride the bike to work safely so you can plan accordingly.
4. Look for routes that are not busy
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 130,000 bicyclists are injured and nearly 1,000 die every year in the United States. You can greatly reduce the risk by using paths with minimal traffic although this might take you longer to get to work.
Keep a safe distance from curbs, pedestrians and drivers so you can have enough room to check behind you and to maneuver or swerve, if need be. Pay particular attention when approaching junctions and only move into the middle of the lane when you are sure it is safe to do so, and watch out for parked cars that might swing their doors open as the occupants get out.
5. Wear protective gear
A helmet is a must-have for any cyclist to protect your head in case of an accident. Additionally, you should wear reflective clothing and bright colors that will allow motorists to see you early in the morning or after dusk.
Another way to promote visibility to ride a road bike to work safely is to have a flashing tail light that reduces the likelihood of rear end collisions. You could carry a backup set to help you if the lights are not sufficiently charged. VIS 1000 Trooper offers high visibility and an impressive runtime of 90 minutes.
6. Secure your bike
A bike lock cable is not a foolproof security system but it can deter thieves from stealing your bike if you leave it unattended. How you place the lock will be determined by the kind of bike you have. If you are not sure about the type of bike you can lock, you can check out our comparison of best road bikes for multiple options that allow you to secure both the frame and wheels with a lock for greater security.
7. Plan your clean up
Now that we have provided you with information on how to ride a road bike to work safely, the next step is to give you tips on how to clean up after your ride. If you are lucky, you can have a shower in the office. Otherwise, you might have to freshen up in the restroom with a wash cloth or wet wipes.
You will also need to have work clothes you can change into afterwards. Hopefully, your cycling gear includes proper shoes which prevent overuse injuries, as the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine reports.