6 Excuses People Make to Avoid Biking to Work
A guide to moving past excuses and start bike commuting.
“If you asked me a few years ago, I would’ve never pegged myself for a bike commuter,” says Mindy BioLite’s Senior Industrial Designer. “But, this summer will mark my 3rd year biking to the office, so I guess things can change."
Mindy’s not alone – most of the BioLite office commutes to work by bike with routes ranging from epic bridges, tree-lined bike lanes, and - yes - potholed, traffic jammed city streets. Some of us are longtime owners, some of us faithfully use citiBike, the bike share program around New York City. All of us agree biking is a perfect way to start the day and we’ll take it over a crowded subway any time.
In conversations with colleagues and friends, we kept hearing the same excuses over and over when it came to why people don’t give cycling a spin. Any of these sound familiar?
Read on to see if any of these can help you get over the hump (or maybe forward it to a friend you’d love to join your two-wheeled commute this May).
Excuse #1: It's Too Dangerous
We appreciate that – getting on a bike does come with risk, but you don't have to be that messenger weaving in and out of cars riding 20 miles per hour. The best way to de-risk your ride is to be predictable:
- Stay in your lane. If you have a bike lane, perfect - if not, stay on one side of the road and don't swerve back and forth.
- Know your route in advance. You can always supplement with real-time google maps so you can minimize any stops in the road.
- Phone > Headphones. If you need directions or just have to listen to that podcast, do so ambiently on speaker so you can still be aware of your surroundings.
- Don’t rush. Google maps might give you a time estimate of 25 minutes, but tack on some extra room for error. The last thing you want is to feel like you're running late for a meeting and make some major mistakes on the road.
Biking to work likely means biking during rush hour which can be intimidating - there's no magical biking points for staying in your seat the whole time: if you come to a crazy intersection, hop off and walk that bad boy. If you see a bunch of trucks double parked, forcing you to merge into traffic, no way! Jump off and walk up on the curb for a bit. The beauty of biking is it gives you speed, but you can always turn back into a pedestrian at a moment's notice. Lastly, get a helmet that fits. We’d recommend Bern’s Brentwood 2.0 - most of us at BioLite have been using this helmet or another Bern model for years.
(If you need more tips to help you feel safe while riding, check out our latest blog).
Excuse #2: I'm Not In The Right Physical Shape
Cycling at a leisurely pace can be a fairly low-impact activity. As you get to know your route, it's helpful to know the elevation that comes with it as that might be where the real huffing and puffing occurs. Finding a bike with gears that can accommodate some climbs can be a useful way to ease into your commute (and most bike shares have 3+ gears to anticipate those hills). You can always hop off for a quick walk, but it's a great goal to work towards over time.
That's all to say you can continue to improve your conditioning and start biking right away. The most important thing to push through isn't breaking PRs for your ride to work, it's getting your butt used to the saddle. Seriously: Butt. In. Seat. If you don't cycle regularly, the first few times can leave you a little achy but don't give up! That goes away quickly – and if it doesn't, consider switching out your saddle for something wider or more padded at your local bike shop. While you’re out there, listen to your body. If you’re not feeling up to it one day, don’t push yourself and make sure you always stay hydrated. MiiR's insulated water bottles and tumblers are durable and designed for life on the go - keeping your water ice cold on your way into work.
And just because your commute might be physically difficult doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. Try motivating yourself with music. Outdoor Tech’s Buckshot 2.0 Bluetooth speaker allows you to listen to podcasts, music, or directions safely. Just clip it onto your handlebars, pair, and go.
Excuse #3: I Don't Want To Get All Sweaty and Gross on My Ride In
It's amazing what a baby wipe can do. Seriously, you can give yourself a quick refresh with some wipes and deodorant, the key is to (a) wait until you’ve stopped sweating and (b) bring a change of clothes! All the gross and grime? That’s hanging out in your bike outfit, swap it out and you’ll feel like a new person. For your commuting getup, we’d recommend having moisture-wicking base layers to help keep your temperature in check, Pearl iZUMi has a variety of jackets, tees, and pants that not only manage your temperature but can pass as street clothes in a more casual work environment. We’d recommend the BLVD Merino Tees along with the Vista or Versa Pant.
Another tip: get wet before you sweat. If you know it’s going to be a hotter day out, we recommend wetting a buff and putting it around your neck. The water will travel to your t-shirt and cool you down, helping to curb a heavy sweat.
Excuse #4: I'll Have to Ride to and From Work in the Dark
Cycling in low-light conditions can take some getting used to. In the beginning, bike to work in guaranteed light hours to get to know the road. Once you’re more confident, migrate to commuting during dusk or dawn. The first time riding home at night can always be a bit scary, but as you take the route over and over you'll get to know all the nooks and crannies.
The most important thing here is to make sure that you have gear that enables you to see and be seen. Invest in some reflective clothing so car lights can spot you from far away - a vest or cuff will do the trick. And get a bright and reliable set of bike lights. You need a front and tail light that attach to your bike (or pack) so that you can be seen from both directions. BioLite's Bike Commuter Kit (available this May only) includes HeadLamp 330 that can fit over your bike helmet so oncoming traffic knows you’re there, a PowerLight Mini with included bike mount that can be attached to your bike as a taillight, and a reflective bike cuff for extra security.
Excuse #5: I Have Too Much to Carry
When you list out everything you have to bring to work it can feel like a lot - computer, lunch, extra clothes, paperwork, water bottle - but with the right gear and bike set up, carrying your gear to and from work is a breeze. Consider that our Marketing Director once biked home with a 10 pound watermelon and all her work gear - not ideal but it is possible if are set up for it (shout out to collapsible baskets and cargo nets).
First things first, get yourself a pack that can fit all your items without weighing you down. Timbuk2’s Especial Scope Expandable Pack has plenty of compartments to keep your gear safely secured - a pouch for your phone, a sleeve for your computer, extra space for clothes, and it’s designed to sit on your back in an ergonomic way. For more storage, consider adding a back rack or folding basket to your bike. Grab a cargo net to help prevent items from flying out the back in the event of potholes or other unexpected bumps.
When it comes to packing your bag, bring along accessories that are compact and light-weight. Our new favorite gear for life on the go is MiiR’s Pourigami ™ (now live on Kickstarter). It’s the world’s smallest, most durable and portable flat-pack dripper: big enough to make a robust cup of coffee, small enough to fit in your back pocket, light enough to forget you’re carrying it.
Excuse #6: I Don't Have a Bike
With the rise of bike share programs across most major cities in the U.S., no bike = no problem. With the quick download of an app or swipe of a card you can bike whenever you want at a low cost. Some of the bikes are even e-bikes which make it that much easier to zoom from place to place.
If you want to get your own bike there is no reason you have to spend thousands on a carbon bike, check out your community bike shops for a low cost first bike. While you’re at it, search Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. Our Community Manager, just picked up a vintage Schwinn for $40. It’s in great condition minus a few nicks. Just make sure that you have time to check it out in person and give it a test drive.