Bicycling is an extremely green mode of transportation that can be compatible with mobile professionals. Bicycles do not burn fossil fuels, contribute to air pollution, or cost as much to operate as a car, and they provide health benefits to the rider. Under the right conditions, biking can actually be a faster means of getting around a city and it’s certainly more fun than fighting traffic. There’s more reason than ever to incorporate bicycle transport into your work routine with the increasing support for bike-friendly cities and pro-biking culture. This Green Tips post will present some ways to use a bicycle for taking care of business efficiently and safely.
One concern people have about riding bikes is maintaining a professional appearance. But biking doesn’t have to leave you sweaty and disheveled. Start out by planning your bike trips so that you have plenty of time to ride them. Give yourself a wide margin to reach your destination and you can arrive refreshed and ready rather than breathless and harried. Bike routes in Google Maps and mobile apps can help you plan your commute and keep track of how much distance your trips cover, so you can adjust your schedule accordingly. (Ride the City is an amazing resource for bicycle trip planning, but it only covers a few North American cities.) If you are still facing steep grades, strong headwinds or simply long rides, you might try an electric bicycle like the A2B model featured on Green Overdrive.
You don’t necessarily need clothing specifically made for biking, but if you decide to pick some up, be sure that it is plainly visible and wicks away moisture. It’s a good idea to use an ankle band to keep trouser cuffs out of the chain and gears. The committed bike commuter will also need rain gear that is both water-resistant (to stop water outside from getting in) and breathable (to let your perspiration evaporate). If you have access to a bathroom at your destination, you can easily freshen up with a hand towel or, if you have the time, change from your cycling clothes into your business attire.
For a commute where you will need more formal business wear, a garment bag pannier will keep suits nice and neat. Try the TransIt garment bag or Two Wheel Gear’s garment bag. Panniers can make carrying cargo on your bike a lot easier on your back than backpacks or messenger bags. Special panniers will not only accommodate a laptop, but protect it from water and bumps, then detach from the bike to become bags. Axiom and Arkel both make detachable panniers that double as soft-sided, laptop-friendly briefcases.
Helmets are indispensable for safety. Shop around for a style that suits you and that fits well. The helmet will affect your hair, so make sure you have the time and the tools to re-style your ‘do.
Bright lights are another strongly recommended safety measure. Highly efficient, removable LED lights should be mounted on the front and back of the bike to increase visibility to motorists. Don’t forget to take those lights, and anything else that is easily stolen, with you. A good lock and a secure point to attach it to are essential for parking your bike in any urban area.
The last piece of equipment that you’ll need is a pump and flat repair kit. You don’t want a random pothole or sharp bit of debris to make you late for an appointment. With the proper tools and a little practice, changing a tire can be done quickly and neatly.
That’s really all you need to start integrating cycling into the morning commute or daily business travel. You’ll lower your environmental impact, save yourself some money and increase your physical activity from the get-go. For more advice on biking to and for work, check out the resources like Momentum magazine, REI’s bicycle commuting page and The Practical Cyclist site.
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Trenton DuVal has managed the online communications efforts of nonprofits focused on creating a more sustainable, just and equitable world since 2005. His varied experiences living and working on five continents have included professional gold farming, crossing the Atlantic by sailboat, a few meals with Nobel Laureates and a tragic run-in with a three-toed sloth.