Bicycle Commuting 101 – Rules of the Road

Since you now know what gear you need to hit the road for your work commute by bike (found in yesterday’s blog), today we’re going to cover everything you need to know about safely and legally sharing the road with other cyclist, motorists, and pedestrians.

As found on the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s webpage, the general rules of riding your bike on the road are as follows:

  • Ride at least three feet from the curb or parked vehicles or debris in curb area and in a straight line. Don’t swerve in and out around parked vehicles.
  • Always ride in the same direction as traffic.
  • Sidewalk riding for bicyclists past the learning stage and being closely supervised by adults can be more dangerous than on the road, obeying traffic laws. It is also illegal unless the community has passed an ordinance specifically permitting sidewalk riding. This can be age-restricted, location-restricted or based on the type of property abutting the sidewalk.
  • Obey all traffic laws.
  • Be predictable! Let other users know where you intend to go and maintain an understood course.
The key to riding safely on the roads is to be seen!  It’s a great idea to wear bright colors to make yourself more visible while on your bike, and clothing and accessories with reflective material are an added bonus!

Finally, a few reminder to motorists:

  • Bicycles are vehicles. They belong on the road.
  • Cyclists need room to get around potholes, sewer grates and other obstructions.
  • Leave at least three feet when passing bicycles, more room at higher speeds.
  • Change lanes to pass any bicycle traveling in a narrow lane.
  • Train yourself to scan for fast moving (it’s hard to tell speed) bicycles and motorcycles in the opposing lane to you when turning left, and scan sidewalks and crosswalks for pedestrians and bicyclists using the sidewalk and crosswalk as a pedestrian. Always scan to your right-side sidewalk before you leave a stop light or stop sign, and to the left- and right-side sidewalks when on a one-way street.

Bicycle Commuting 101 – The Gear

Think you need to break the bank to get into bicycle commuting?  Think again!  Most people already have a bike sitting in their garage, so as long as it’s in proper working order, it’ll certainly do the trick.  Then, add a few key items to make your ride to work a safe and enjoyable one, and you’re all set!

Below is a no-nonsense list of all the equipment you’ll need.  Depending on the length of your commute, you may only need a few things listed or you may need them all.  Whatever you needs, make sure you get yourself the first three on the list – we consider them must-haves when hitting the street on your bike.

1. Helmet – Likely the most important piece of cycling equipment you’ll ever buy, helmets are a no brainer.  Don’t take chances with your head; it’s just not worth it, especially since today’s helmets are very inexpensive, fit great, and look good too!

2.  Lock – Most people don’t have the luxury of parking their bike inside while at work or school, so good lock is a must.  Unfortunately, bicycle theft is a problem that isn’t going away, so protecting your bike with a secure lock is a great idea.  Locks come in all different shapes and sizes, with combination or keyed locks.  And for prices as low as $9.99, buying one is a pretty easy choice. 

3. Lights – With commutes sometimes starting in the early morning hours and ending when the sun is setting, keeping yourself visible is a must!  At the minimum, riders should have a white blinking light at the front of their bikes with a red flashing light in the back.  Headlights are a inexpensive add-on, and greatly increase visibility while riding in darker conditions.

4. Fenders – Don’t let a little rain stop you from hitting the road in the morning on your bike. Fenders do an amazing job of keeping water and road grime off you and your bike.  With prices starting as low as $10, fenders are an easy add-on that go a long way to making your ride to work loads more enjoyable.

5. Basic tool kit – Just like cars, bikes sometimes break down.  Unlike cars though, fixing your bike is usually quick and easy when you have the right tools.  A simple multi-tool, flat tire kit (tube, patch kit, tire levers), and pump/co2 pump are usually all you need to get your bike back up and running.

6.  Rain gear – Like a bike, most people have a rain jacket in the closet.  Perfect!  Use that!  There’s no need to purchase bike specific outerwear for a short commute.  As long as what you wear fits snuggly and doesn’t impede your ability to ride a bike, it’ll be great.

7. Backpack / bike bag – Almost everyone has stuff they need to bring to work, and finding a way to carry it all on your bike is actually pretty easy.  There are hundreds of different bags, racks, or packs you can outfit your bike or yourself with to get your personal items to work.  Our shop mechanic Pete even found a bag to carry home his weekly selections of new vinyl records from the Inner Sleeve!  From lunches to laptops to business suits, theres a bag out there to carry your items while on your bike.

Think you’re ready to give it a try? Hop on your bike tomorrow morning!


It’s National Bike to Work Week!

According to the League of American Bicyclists, more than half of the U.S. population lives within five miles of their workplace, making bicycling a feasible and fun way to get to work. With increased interest in healthy, sustainable and economic transportation options, it’s not surprising that, from 2000 to 2011, the number of bicycle commuters in the U.S. grew by more than 47 percent.  Are you part of that 47%?

To celebrate Bike to Work Week, we’ll be blogging daily to bring you all the information you need to make your bike commute easier, safer, and more enjoyable.  Not sure what to wear to beat the weather?  Does carrying all your work stuff on a bike have you scratching your head? Or, are you still thinking about switching from the car to the bike and not quite sure how to make it all work?  You’re in the right place!  Be sure to check back daily!

To kick off the week, we’re bringing you a few smokin’ deals on a some great bikes that would make excellent commuters.  Stop in today for a test ride and start saving money (and feeling better in the process).