Bike commuting 101: Keep it simple

The daily sea of neon, spandex and specialty gear on the city's popular bike routes can be daunting to a new rider, but here’s the thing: A commute to work or school is not a cross-country bike tour, and all the extra  bicycling accoutrements distract from the beautiful simplicity of riding a bike. Getting around town on two wheels is convenient and easy, and getting started is even easier. All you need to get rolling are a bicycle, helmet and lock.

Bike commuting essentials

1. A bike. You’ll need one that fits you properly and takes you where you want to go. It's always a good idea to have your local bike shop give your bike a safety check and a tune-up. Cascade and other partners are offering free bike maintenance at the Dust Off Days event on April 27. Don't miss it! If you are shopping for a new bike, start at your local bike shop to find out what size and style of bike fits your riding needs.

2. A helmet. Protect your most valuable asset--your brain--every time you ride. Helmets come in a wide variety of styles and sizes, so be sure to choose the one that fits. Cascade sells $15 helmets at our office and community events.

  • Helmets are one-hit wonders. Replace your helmet immediately after a crash or significant impact.
  • Worried about helmet hair? Don’t blame the helmet; a good hairdresser can execute a helmet-friendly style.

3. A lock. A quality bike lock ensures that your beloved two-wheeled steed will be there the next time you need it. U-locks are your best theft deterrent and are worth the investment. When parking your bike, select a highly visible location to deter would-be thieves, and secure your bike frame and front wheel to the bike rack.



Optional but recommended

4. Rain gear. It rains a lot here in Seattle and rain gear can make any ride more comfortable. A simple waterproof jacket and a waterproof backpack to carry your work clothes, laptop and lunch can go a long way. It never hurts to pack a spare set of clothes to make sure you show up at your destination clean and dry.   

5. Lights! See and be seen in the dark and poor weather conditions with front and rear lights and reflectors. We recommend having two front lights - one blinky and one powerful, steady light, and at least one blinking red rear light. Plus, having bike lights isn’t just a good idea; it’s the law. Seattle Traffic Code states that every bicycle, when in use during the hours of darkness, must be equipped with a white light on the front, and a red reflector or light on the rear.   

6. A cell phone. Handy in cases of emergency, especially if you don't have a repair toolkit.

As you ride more (and more and more) you may find extra gear makes your rides more comfortable and enjoyable. Or maybe not. Start with the basics, make your ride your own and start enjoying travelling from Point A to Point B!