Safe commuting starts with informed commuting. Here are five ways to be a prepared commuter.
Accessorize your commute with the essentials. You’re likely to be inundated with plenty of ways to customize your bicycle, but if you’re commuting daily, chances are a Lycra suit won’t be a necessity. We recommend focusing on five main aspects of safe, daily commuting, and of course, consulting with your local cycling laws.
1. Be Protected –
Albeit cliché, helmets save lives. Zipping through the streets of a major metro? Protect your noggin. If you’ll find yourself riding in New York, for example, helmets are mandated by law. Make helmet-hair worries a thing of the past and invest in a comfortable, snugly fit helmet to be protected while riding. Ensure your helmet sits level on your head, no more than one or two finger-widths from your eyebrow to forehead, and no more than one or two fingers can fit under the chin strap. Chin straps and side straps are easily adjustable to correctly position your helmet, allowing no room for rocking side to side, or forward and backward.
Helmets aside, protect yourself in other ways by following traffic rules and most importantly, staying alert. If you’re familiar with driving, the rules of safe cycling aren’t much different. Stop at red lights and stop signs, stay in bike lanes and bike paths where available, and familiarize yourself with cycling hand signals. Google Maps’ cycling option is a useful starting point for mapping your route until you’re fully confident in your commute.
2. Be Heard –
A loud bell is imperative to be heard by other commuters and pedestrians. Some areas (hello Washington, DC) require a bell by law. Look for a bell which properly fits the diameter of your handlebars and is easily accessible by your fingers while riding. From sleek, minimalistic bells to funky, flashy bells, you’re sure to find something that’ll suit you and your ride. Whichever style you choose, the key is to not overtighten your bell. Overtightening or poorly positioning your bell (like accidentally placing it against your shifter) will hinder its effectiveness, leading to a muffled sound instead of a loud, alerting, “Hey, I’m coming through!” ding.
3. Be Seen –
Just as a high quality bell lets you be heard, a set of bicycle lights are crucial to be seen by other cyclists, drivers, and pedestrians. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with all the light options on the market, but visibility is key. For safe daytime riding, there are plenty of lights which offer enough visibility to be seen—often with varied settings like slow flashing, fast flashing, and a steady light. For safe night riding, there are also bicycle lights intended to light up the road, comparable to a car’s headlight. Remember, if your lights easily attach, they’re easily removed. Remember to remove them whenever leaving your bicycle unattended.
4. Be Secure –
Security is arguably one of the most important aspects of commuting. Investing in a high quality lock and learning the proper way to lock your bike are as important as locking your front door at night. Bikes are lightweight vehicles of opportunity, and bike thieves are – you guessed it – opportunists. Your job is to limit their opportunities.
- Lock your bike to a permanent fixture.
- Avoid locking your bike to scaffolding, thin metal posts and poles, and never leave your bicycle unlocked and unattended.
- Take a minute to familiarize yourself with a proper locking technique. Lock your frame as well as your wheels—especially if your bike features quick release wheels.
- Seat leashes and Pinhead locks are great options to ensure your saddle will be waiting after your workday.
- Lastly, as a precautionary measure, record and register your serial number with national databases and us (assuming you have a Brooklyn bicycle) as soon as you receive your bicycle.
5. Be Regular—
No, not in that way. Regular bike maintenance by a professional mechanic is as important as getting a car regularly serviced. You wouldn’t want to ride in an Uber that hasn’t passed an inspection since its first ride in 2015. Your local bike shop is a great resource for “checking under the hood” while providing professional advice and recommendations. From changing the inevitable flat, to replacing brake pads, to regreasing and tensioning chains, these teams can do it all and keep you riding safely. Whether you’re riding in Seattle’s rain, Ottawa’s snow, or Tampa’s sunshine, your local shop will be able to provide recommendations on any accessories to further ease your commute—think all-weather tires, fenders, cycling gloves, water bottle cages, and so much more. Several accessory brands offer an anti-theft guarantee, so it doesn’t hurt to do your research before purchasing. For do-it-yourself maintenance, buy a tire pump and regularly check your tire pressure. Most tires have a recommended PSI imprinted on its sidewall, and maintaining the correct amount of air can be easily accomplished by checking consistently.
For more tips, check out our Safe Riding YouTube video below.
Craving more bike buying knowledge? We’ve got you covered there as well. Click HERE to get our “Definitive Guide to Buying a Bike” where we share six must know things to consider before hitting that add-to-cart button.
We build bikes for vivid lives—for taking adventures, reconnecting with old friends, discovering new neighborhoods and exploring hidden gems. Inspired by the streets of Brooklyn, our bikes are built for style, comfort, and durability. Made with top quality parts, crafted with care, and sold at an affordable price, your bike is yours for life. We scrutinize every component for maximum sustainability and performance, and every millimeter of the frame for ultimate comfort and style. We take pride in our process, in our products, and in the people who sell them.