1. I don’t have a bike.
Luckily for those that live in the DC Metro area, Capital Bikeshare has over 1,200 bicycles available at 140 various stations around Washington DC! Bikes are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and the first 30 minutes of any ride is free.
For those that want to buy their own bike but don’t want to spend a lot of dough on a brand new bicycle, Craigslist offers steeply discounted used bikes: You can also look on Freecycle for any free bikes that are up for grabs in your area.
2. My route is dangerous/ I don’t know how to get to work by bike.
Google maps just became your best friend!
Type in your start and ending addresses and click on the “bicycle” option. Google Maps will then highlight the best route to take in green. Solid green lines are bike lanes that are separate from the road, dashed green lines are independent on-road bike lanes, and yellow are places where you will have to share the road with cars. Please don’t take the grey or red routes – Those are a no-go for cyclists!
Keep in mind that sometimes the best bike route isn’t necessarily the most direct route. Though I only live 7 miles from my work, my bike route is 9.5 miles, because I like to stay on off-road bike routes instead of trying to share a sidewalk with pedestrians.
And by all means, go slow and wear a helmet! Most crashes are either from a stupid mistake (i.e. riding through a pot-hole, not keeping a safe distance away from pedestrians or parked cars), or from something totally out of your realm of control. (Slick roads, crash from an on-coming bike, etc.) For your first couple of rides, add a little extra time into your commute so you can bike at a slower pace and get to know your route and all the possible precautions. Smart cycling will greatly diminish your chance of wiping out on your bike.
3. I work too far away.
Some of the more unlucky commuters live too far away from their office, or, part of their route is far too dangerous to ride. If you usually metro into work, you can always do a combination of metro + bikeshare, or drive to the metro, park your car, and ride in from there. If there’s a bus that runs from your home to a capitol bikeshare location, you can always bus to the bike, or, bring your bike on the bus to cut down on the miles you need to ride.
4. I don’t have facilities to store my bike.
Once again, Capital Bikeshare is a great option to bike to work and not have to worry about storage of a bike!
Also, many parking garages have bike racks on the same level as the parking attendant. As long as you secure your bike with a great bike lock and remember to pick it back up before the garage closes, many garages are happy to store your bike for you. (Tipping the parking attendant every once in a while helps out a bunch, too!)
5. I don’t have a shower at work.
Some local area gyms have a discount membership where you can use the facilities only to shower and store clothes in a locker. Or, check with co-workers or friends that work in your immediate area, perhaps they know of a gym in a building that has shower facilities. If you have a relatively short commute, you might find that you don’t necessarily need to shower after you ride your bike; you can ride in your normal work clothes (but please remember to ALWAYS wear a helmet!) At my previous job, one of my co-workers only biked to work on casual Fridays, and had a change of clothes in the office. I wouldn’t recommend the casual route when you have an important meeting scheduled, but for those lazy Fridays before a holiday… this might be your best option to go shower-free!
6. It’s too hard/painful!
I have a secret… though I consider myself an avid cyclist; I don’t bike to work every day! Some weeks I bike 3 days, some weeks I only bike 1; but I listen to my body and obsess over the weather report, and I am totally fine with sitting a day out if my legs are too tired or if there’s a threat of thunderstorms for the afternoon commute. Resting up after a long bike ride is definitely encouraged, and by starting out with a slow bike schedule, you will enjoy biking more and (hopefully) won’t burn out and stop cycling. Yes, you might get “saddle sores.” Yes, you might knick your shins on your pedals. Yes, you may find that your neck is oddly sore after a long ride. Yoga helps stretch out all of those random sore spots, and cross-training also helps build up your endurance. If you are consistently sore in a very specific place, perhaps your bike isn’t adjusted correctly, or, perhaps you need to invest in some special bike gear. And for the serious female cyclists out there: for all other bumps, bruises and pains associated with biking, there is a WONDERFUL post over at “Lovely Bicycle” that spells everything out. I LOVE “Lovely Bicycle.”
7. I don’t have bike clothes!
Biking to work doesn’t need to be expensive, but you will need to invest in a good helmet. You can always use elastic headbands or even rubber pants for a pant brace, and for a short commute, you can wear your everyday work clothes. I bike in my yoga capris and a brightly colored top. The beauty of cycling to work is that you can totally dial it up or down depending on your comfort or enthusiasm level.
8. I’m not confident enough!
The Washington Area Bicyclist Association offers great on-bike courses to help you become a more confident cyclist.
9. What if it rains?
Please don’t laugh, but I fret over this all the time—I check the weather report almost on the hour whenever I bike to work! I keep my SmarTrip card on me at all times and carry a bike lock, so if I get caught in a sudden downpour I know I can ditch my bike at a close metro station and pick it up the next day. Sometimes when the temperature soars over 100 degrees and I don’t feel like biking home, I’ll leave my bike at work, metro home, and then just bike home the next day. It’s always good to have a backup plan, and knowing all of you options will help you build confidence while riding. Commuter Connections is a free service that offers you up to 4 free rides a year – so if you do cycle in one day and realize that you can’t make it home, they will drive you and your bike home for free.
10. So… What’s your reason why you don’t want to bike to work? Let us know, and perhaps we can put our heads together and help you figure out a solution!