If you're just getting started, you might have a lot of questions. Below are a couple of things to consider before you pedal down the street. But, honestly, the best way to embrace this lifestyle to to give yourself space to live and learn by DOING. Don't wait for perfect knowledge or conditions. Start with good enough and you'll learn along the way.
1. KNOW THE LAWS
Laws can be different from city to city. Check your local ordinances on where to ride, where to stop or slow, and who yields to who.
2. LEARN YOUR SIGNALS
Signaling saves lives. There are a few arm signals that are critical and super easy. You can check this easy infographic by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
3. PLAN YOUR ROUTE
Use apps like Google Maps or Strava to see possible routes. Do a quick Google search for a local bike commuting map, like this one for my city, Richmond, VA.
I like to use a combination of the infrastructure established in the city in combination with routes that are proven safe by seasoned commuters. The more you become aware of your options, the better equipped you will be to make efficient and safe decisions on your route.
Please possible complications like one way streets, tight streets, cobblestones, and complicated intersections.
4. CHECK THE WEATHER
Don’t just check the daily weather, check the hourly as well. Get used to checking the radar. Check the chance of precipitation. I used to drive or take the bus if the forecast called for rain at all, but then found out that I missed a perfectly good opportunity to ride by not paying attention to the time rain was expected. Oftentimes, if you’re commuting to work and rain is only called for between the hours while you’re indoors, you can plan for a relatively dry ride. Just be prepared with a seat cover and have those fenders installed.
5. CHECK YOUR RIDE
Tire pressure to the recommended psi? Are your brake pads rubbing? Is the quick release on your axle actually closed? Have you lubed your chain recently? Do you have an extra tube in your bag? Hand pump?
A little maintenance every now and then will keep your ride in good shape. Try to check the night before so you’re not struggling in the morning when you’re already running behind (I say this from experience.) Or, drop your bike off at a local bike shop for a tune up while you work or check emails from your favorite local spot. Call ahead to make an appointment.
REI has a great article on maintenance - https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/bike-maintenance.html
6. ADD ON AS NEEDED
I love a back rack with the option for pannier bags. Some people love a cute handlebar basket. Fenders are a very valuable add-on! Add a few lights for visibility. Hell, add streamers if that’s your thing. Make your ride unique to you.
7. PLAN YOUR LOOK AND ACCOUTREMENT
There are a lot of things to consider when planning your riding outfit. Will you be warm enough? Cool enough? Moisture wicking? Are your hems clear of your derailleurs? Do your pants have enough give through the seat and knees? Do you have enough room through the shoulders and upper back? Is your coat a weird length? Will your butt crack show? Do you have tread on the bottom of your shoes for your pedals? Can you wipe the mud effectively off your butt? Will your hair be affected by your helmet….? Super hot? You’re going to sweat. Wear an undershirt or a change of clothes for your arrival. Don’t forget sunscreen and water!
This is where Posh Cyclist rides in to save the day. Though you can bike in anything, there are certain considerations you should give your wardrobe to make your ride safe and stylish.