There is a reason so many people are switching to bike commuting: the benefits are bountiful! Among them:
Save time. If your commute is less than 4 miles long, riding a bicycle is likely to be as fast - if not faster - than commuting by car or public transit.
Save money. The average monthly cost of bicycle ownership is $25, significantly less than the monthly cost of a SEPTA pass and a tiny fraction of the cost of car ownership. "Overall, the average annual cost of new vehicle ownership climbed to $9,282, or $773.50 a month." - AAA, 2022
Exercise. Bicycling is good aerobic exercise. In a busy work day, combining your commute with exercise saves time and gym costs. Working even low intensity activity into your daily schedule has massive health benefits!
Lowers stress. Getting daily exercise is proven to lower stress, improve health and productivity, and counteract the negative impacts of desk-bound jobs.
Have fun. Bicycling is fun! Given the choice, wouldn’t you rather do something fun than something not fun?
CLOTHING AND GEAR
The most common concerns people have before bike commuting are about arriving at work looking presentable.
“Won’t I be super sweaty? My hair will get all messed up!” This is less of a problem than you think. If your commute is less than four miles, and the weather is mild, a leisurely pace will not get you sweaty. If you are worried, you can bring a hand towel for any needed post-ride drying off. Or ride in workout clothes and simply change at work.
Bicycling is also more compatible with work clothes than you might think. Bicycling needs not put undue strain on dress pants, jackets, ties, or even skirts. Simply put a rubber band around your right pant leg, or tuck it into your sock, to keep it away from the chain.
You also do not need special gear to bike commute. All you need is a bicycle, helmet, and lights. Beyond that, a simple basket or bag to carry whatever you need that day. The basic bag options:
Panniers: Provide larger storage area without straining your body, and make for a more stable ride. Downside is they can be more expensive and require a rack on your bike.
Backpack: Cheap and easy to carry off-bike. Downside is an overloaded bag can strain your back or impair balance, or make your back sweaty.
Messenger bag: You’ll look super cool and they're easy to access while on-bike. The downsides are sweaty back, less stable, and not as great for walking around.
CHOOSING A ROUTE
Before you ride to work, do a test run on a weekend day. Figure out the best streets or trails to get to work.
Things to look for:
Streets with heavy bicycle usage.
Streets with bike lanes and lower travel speeds.
Is there a trail you can take part of the way?
Good views. Popular bike routes can include great views of rivers, green space, and the Rochester skyline, which will make your commute all the more enjoyable.
If your commute takes you from the far parts of the city or surrounding towns, you can combine a bike ride with public transit. Many people bike “the first mile” of their commutes – ie, biking from home to a bus stop, where they either lock their bike up or take their bike on the bus. This is an increasingly great option as Rochester continues to expand the public transit network! Our Bikes on Transit page has an overview about taking bikes on busses.