A Beginner’s Guide to Bike Commuting

Gas prices got you down? Follow this beginner cycling advice from Chip Haynes, author of The Practical Cyclist: Bicycling For Real People, to pedal everywhere you need to go—safely and affordably.

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bike commuting tips for beginners - rules
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1. Obey The Rules

Bike commuting for beginners starts with one tip: Obeying the law is what keeps you safe. I’ve learned that the streets can be a safe place to ride—if you choose your streets wisely and obey the laws as if you were in a car. You have to ride your bike like the street legal vehicle it is and that means riding on the right with traffic, obeying traffic lights and stop signs.

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bike commuting tips for beginners - bike
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2. Don’t Be Picky

Just about any bicycle will get you to work. I’ve ridden fixed gear one-speeds, classic English three-speeds and over-the-top multi-speeds and even tricycles to work when I had a lot to carry. They all work—yours will too!

This is the ultimate guide to buying a new bike.

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Woman biking to work
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3. Route Matters

It took me quite some time to settle on a route to work and back, and to tell you the truth: the route back is slightly different than the route to work, since traffic patterns change from morning to evening. Still, I do try to ride the same routes every day, at about the same time, and mostly wearing the same jacket and bicycle helmet. I want the regular drivers on those roads to see me and recognize me. I want them to be looking for me and say, “Oh yeah, there’s that bicycle guy!” I don’t want to be a surprise to anyone. Never sneak up on a car driver.

Don’t miss Canada’s best bike trails—one in every province.

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Orange bicycle
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4. Bicycles Need Maintenance

Bicycles are inexpensive, but like everything else, they are going to wear out. Tires, tubes, chains, seats, handgrips, cables—they all need to be replaced from time to time. Check over your commuter bike every week or so, making sure the tires are pumped and everything is tight and snug. Keeping your tires pumped is the number one best thing you can do to keep your bike on the road.

Here’s how to prevent your bike from being stolen.

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Woman biking on downtown road
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5. Helmets are Important

I always wear a helmet when I ride. I know that can be a bone of contention with many people, but that helmet does help, even if I don’t fall over all that much. (Hardly ever.) Your helmet offers a bright spot of colour out there in traffic, giving you much better visibility in the eyes of the motorists. And that helmet tells them you’re out there on purpose.

Now that you know about bike commuting for beginners, check out the most bike-friendly cities around the world.

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