In case you haven’t heard, May is bike month! Commuting to work by bicycle is a great way to exercise and do your part to go green. If you haven’t tried commuting by bicycle before, then why not give it a try for a couple of days?
Here are some of the most basic types of commuters and the style of bikes recommended by Cycle and Style Magazine:
European Style Commute
The Route: Relatively short (4 miles or less) trip that is mostly flat and has good bike lanes or low-speed traffic route the majority of the trip. Often, this is a completely urban route for people who can ride from their downtown loft or apartment to work or shopping within the downtown area.
The Bicycle: Upright, comfortable “city” bike with a step-through frame, fenders, chain guard, maybe even skirt guard. Dutch-style bicycles, which may be a bit heavy for a longer commute, are perfect for such a trip! Vintage bicycles with a step-through frame are also fun to ride.
Extra accessories: Have your bicycle equipped with a bell, a light to make you visible on a gray, foggy day or in low-light conditions. A basket fitting on either the front or rear of the bicycle is an absolute necessity for many women. Buy a nice basket that appeals to your sense of style and is large enough to carry a purse, perhaps a small shopping bag and a few other items. If your bicycle has a rear rack, you may want to add some panniers to carry even more items. Thankfully, panniers have come a long way from just basic black and many sport beautiful prints and colors.
Clothing: The beauty of the step-through bicycles with chain guards and fenders is that a girl can wear a pretty dress and heels or fashionable boots and wide-leg pants without worrying about damaging them.
The Route: A mid-length trip (about 4-10 miles) that may involve a little hilly terrain. (Remember, the best route by bike isn’t always the same for a car, you may wish to go a little farther out of your way to avoid high-speed traffic areas or significant hills.)
The Bicycle: The categories of bicycles that are called “commuter” bicycles are perfect for this. But any upright, comfortable, somewhat lightweight bicycle will work. Women can find bikes in this category with a step-through frame so wearing a skirt, dress or longer coat is not a problem. To protect your clothing from the occasional spatter from the road add fenders. Many “commuter-style” bikes have a chain guard so you don’t have to worry about the chain catching on your pant leg or staining them with grease.
Extra Accessories for the bike: To carry what you need, add a rack with panniers (those baskets or bags that fit on the rear rack of your bike) and/or a front basket will nicely hold your purse, lunch, and other items you’ll want to pack. If your load is easily carried in a messenger bag, you could alternatively take that instead.
Clothing: On some days or some commutes, one can dress as she would for work. Alternatively, a loose-fitting comfortable top can be worn then changed for a nicer one once at your destination. Wear comfortable street shoes and casual pants.
Long Distance Commute
The Route: –A longer route of well over 8 miles that may have hills.
The Bicycle: –A lighter weight bicycle to get up the hills and cover the miles is preferable. Bicycles types such as hybrids, commuter-style bicycle or a road bike.
Extra Accessories for the Bike: –Have a rack installed so you can carry panniers, a basket if you like, and front & back lights for the low-light of early morning and evening commuting. If you have to keep your bike on a rack, get a good U-lock to keep it safe.
Clothing: Wear what you are comfortable in for the distance. A mix of casual clothing and technical clothing might be a nice and practical choice.
A quick change and you are ready for work
Technical tops work well to wick away moisture. Merino wool jerseys will do the same on cool autumn days. Once you remove the clothing that you biked in, you are removing 90% of the sweat. Bike shoes aren’t necessary unless you prefer them.
The Route: A long-distance commute made a lot easier by combining public transportation such as bus, train or ferry boat with your bike commute. This can include riding your bike to the terminal and locking it up on a rack or in a bike locker before getting on the public transportation or alternatively taking the bicycle with you.
The Bicycle: It depends on the length of your bike commute, but a light bike that can be lifted onto the front rack of a bus with relative ease is practical. A folding bicycle may be more practical when there is no room on the train/bus for a bike.
You can easily get on and off of the train with a bicycle
Extra Accessories for the Bike or Commute: If you have a folding bike, you’ll want a messenger bag or backpack to carry what you need. Otherwise, have your bicycle equipped for the type of commute you have.
Clothing: Dress appropriate for the commute. If you have a folding bike, it will not likely have a chain guard, so wear an ankle band around your pant leg if necessary to keep it from catching in the chain.