Biking and commuting in the city is a fun form of exercise that doesn’t require going to the gym, plus you never get stuck in traffic and you can usually park right in front of your destination. Here are some hints to keep you riding safely and comfortably!
Rules of the Road
Know the rules of the road (generally they are the same rules and rights as cars) and obey them, but don’t push your luck when it comes to “rights.” In any confrontation with a car, you will lose. Some rules are different for bikes, like being able to use the sidewalk in Washington State or not having to abide by stop signs in Idaho. Know your local traffic codes, but don’t assume that motorists know them.
Assume that drivers don’t see you or realize how fast you are going and will do the most dangerous possible thing, and you’ll be ahead of the game. Use bike trails and segregated bike lanes if at all possible.
Be ready to handle small repairs if you range further from home than you’d care to walk.
Carry an extra tube or two with tire levers, a mini-pump or a CO2 inflator and a patch kit in case of flat tires.
Other things you might need include a first aid kit, energy bars/gels, and allen wrenches (3mm, 4mm, 5mm depending on your bike).
Helmets, Lights/Reflection, Locks and more
Wear a helmet and bright colors with reflective tape like Scotchbrite® if possible.
Make sure to have bright lights if you’re riding at night—you’ll want a headlight to see the road and flashing LED's (rear) so drivers can see you. Remember that if a driver is looking at you from the side, they may not see your front and rear lights - consider getting lights for your wheels or additional reflectors.
Bring a lock - U-locks are probably the safest, 2 locks (1 U-lock, 1 cable) can help slow down thieves in sketchy areas.
Don’t leave your lights or other accessories on your bike, they will get stolen.
Bring a change of clothing if needed.
Plan your route carefully, trying to stay away from heavy auto traffic if possible. The best route in your car may not be the best route on your bike. In many areas Google Maps has a “bicycling” app that shows existing bike trails and will chart a route for cycling from point to point.
Test a new route on your day off and see how long it takes and how tired you get.
Local knowledge rules - ask other cyclists for tips on how to navigate tricky or dangerous urban areas.