If any of these six excuses are holding you back from bike commuting, it’s time to get over it.
1. You’re carrying too much stuff.
A chic messenger bag, a high-tech pannier, or just a classic basket can help you carry everything in style, and even leave room for you to stop on the way home and pick up those last-minute groceries.
And if dropping the kids off at daycare is part of your daily routine, then bring them along on the bike: Invest in a carrier, and then unhook it and leave it at the daycare provider until you’re back to pick them up in the afternoon. They’ll be happy to skip the rush-hour traffic, too.
2. It’s raining (or hot, or humid).
We know you don’t want to show up at work looking all bedraggled from a commute in wet weather, or from biking through humid city streets on the steamiest summer mornings.
But this problem is easily fixed with a few simple adjustments: First, you need the right gear. Look for breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics that won’t leave you soaked (or smelly), and durable, waterproof jackets that will keep most of the water away (like Runshade shirts from Patagonia and the Lightbeam hoodie from Nau).
It’s also a good idea to stash a change of clothes at your desk (or in your gym locker, if that’s nearby) for days when you didn’t check the weather before leaving the house — and toss in an extra stick of deodorant and a hairbrush for everyday use.
3. It’s snowing.
While winter cycling brings up some of the same issues as wet- or hot-weather riding (like wearing something that you can change out of when you get to work so you don’t end up in those ice-crusted pants at your 9 a.m. meeting), it also offers challenges that are all its own.
You need riding gear that’s warm but still breathable — check your local fitness store for cold-weather workout options — and a bike that can take on salty, icy, snowy streets (a mountain bike is often better than a road bike in these situations).
4. You don’t want helmet hair.
No one wants to have helmet hair at work, but there are ways you can deal with it. There’s the $470 collar helmet from Hovding, which only inflates on impact, but you can also try a low-maintenance hairstyle; keep a stash of products at your office; or plan to hit the gym and shower after the commute but before going into work.
5. It takes too long.
Depending on where you live (think bumper-to-bumper traffic, extra time needed to find a parking spot), cycling usually takes longer than driving. It may take longer than public transportation, too, but that depends on how close you live to the bus or train station and how reliable your city’s service is.
The physical side of things also means you can cut down (or totally eliminate) your daily card sessions at the gym. Just imagine: Instead of going from a stuffy office to a boring treadmill, you could let the fresh air and sunshine rejuvenate your spirit. Doesn’t that sound a lot better?
6. You’re scared of traffic.
Taking the proper safety precautions — like using signals and lights, riding in bike lanes, and following the traffic laws — lets drivers know where you are and what you’re doing, and that makes them able to give you the space you need to ride safely.
This is also the kind of fear that only goes away with plenty of practice — so look over these 10 tips for cycling with traffic, study up on the rules of the road, buckle your helmet and get out there. You’ll be so glad to be no longer stuck in those morning traffic jams that you’ll be more confident in no time.