by Kelley Schweissing
It can be intimidating that most people who cycle to work everyday seem to be fanatic, spandex wearing, granola machines. Fortunately, the reality of cycling to work is much friendlier than first impressions indicate, and switching to a bicycle to meet your commuting needs is a simple undertaking.
Step one: Decide That You Want to Make Biking Your Transit of Choice
There is no half-assing this one. If you make biking your transit of choice, it is important that you commit to it. Now, understand that some effort on your part to actively participate and learn about this new structure of transit is necessary. You’llneed to commit to learning how to bike in traffic and how to incorporate biking into the transit infrastructure of your city. Luckily, the traffic rules are shocking simple: If you can remember the rules for driving a car, you already know the vast majority of rules for driving a bike in traffic. An easy way to answer any questions you have about traffic is to ask yourself what you would do in a car. If you wouldn’t do it in a car, don’t do it on a bike. Would you run a red light in a car? Then don’t run a light as a cyclist. Additionally, if the law holds for cars then chances are it holds for bike unless otherwise posted.
Step Two: Don't Break the Bank
Don’t go all out on an expensive bike and gear. A good basic bike can be found on Craigslist for less than $100. That said a good $25 U-lock or kryptonite chain lock still ought to be purchased to prevent theft. If you are truly committed to biking you’ll build your bike kit over time to eventually include a patch kit, spare tube, tire levers, hex wrenches, and other maintenance tools such as chain lube and bike pump. Don’t worry, it’s not as intimidating as it sounds and you're not going to buy it all right now. Additionally, many bike shops such as Randy’s Recycled Cycles and the Bike Depot will let you use some of their tools and give you free advice on bike maintenance.
Step Three: Keep Learning and Stay Involved
Once you have established yourself as an new cyclist and become comfortable to your commuter route it is important that you continue to expand your biking horizons. If you really want to maximize the utility of biking in Denver, add local community destinations to your daily grind to and from work. This can be accomplished in a number of ways such as BikeDenver’s very own group rides and classes which cover everything from maintenance to traffic procedures and bike routes. Make biking a social and communal experience you can share and look forward to with old and new friends.
Step Four: Time to Bike
Well, that's about all you need to get started. Stay committed, informed, ready to participate, and the benefits of switching to a bike will resonate through your whole life, from your wallet to your heart!