Riding to Work

How to Comfortably Commute to Work by Bike

Are you one of the thousands of West Australian’s who rode a bike more frequently during the COVID restriction period in 2020 and are now considering riding your bike to work?

Or maybe you’re already a recreational bike ride and ride lots of kilometres on the weekend. Riding to work is a great way to use the time you would normally spend in the car or train for extra training and be ready to take on your next big bike challenge, such as WA’s favourite, the WestCycle Dams Challenge!

This video by CyclingTips may be of interest. To support the video, we have added some extra information relevant to West Australians in the tabs below.

What Bike Should I Choose?

The answer depends on the sort of commute and the distance – these will have a bearing on what type of bike you’ll want to use.

  • For going short distances: any simple bike will do! A bike that is more upright and comfortable will get the job done. There will be no need for clip in pedals – in fact, they might be inconvenient for this type of riding.
  • For short-mid distances: a city of hybrid bike might be more practical. These have multiple gears, places to install racks, and panniers to carry your luggage. These bikes are the bike of choice for most riders.
  • For longer distances: you may want to consider a fitness or flat bar road bike, that gives the benefits of a traditional road bike without the forward leaning body position. With eBikes becoming more affordable, an eBike might also help for those longer commutes.
  • If you need to carry bigger loads: a cargo bike might be the answer, but these can be expensive. However, given that these bikes are designed to replace your car, these are comparatively cheaper than a second car. If you are carrying big loads or live in a hilly area, you may want to consider an electric version.
  • A note on fixie or single speed bikes: these trendy urban-style bikes are popular due to their simplicity. However, with only one speed, you will need a good level of fitness that may make these bikes less practical for some – especially for a fixie where you are unable to free wheel (stop pedalling). So, keep this in mind if you are considering purchasing one of these bikes!

For more information on different types of bikes that are available on the market, we have more information here.

Being Prepared – to avoid slacking!

  • Get your gear ready the night before so you can’t talk yourself out of it in the morning.
  • If you can’t carry all of your work clothes with you, you could consider taking all the gear you’ll need for the week on one day. This way you’ll be ready for tomorrow’s ride and less likely to forget something.
  • It’s always a good idea to have a spare set of work clothes and bike riding clothes if you have somewhere at work to keep them – just in case you accidentally forget something one day.
  • Keep in mind, you don’t have to ride every day of the week – try starting with 1 day and then work your way up as you feel up to it!

Don’t Ride The Way You Drive

The route you take to work by car or public transport may not always be the best route to take when on a bike. Make sure to check out some different paths and quieter roads on your commute, and consider testing different options on a weekend so you don’t have to rush.

There are a few different ways to discover the best way to get to your destination:

Learn Basic Bike Maintenance

Knowing the basics will help ensure that in the unlucky event that your chain falls off or if you get a puncture, you’ll be able to get yourself back up and running.

  • Here is a great video explaining how to replace a tube. If you get a puncture halfway to work, it might be quicker and easier to replace a flat tyre with a spare tube and repair or patch a puncture later at home – just make sure to remove that piece of glass or prickle from your tyre before swapping it out.
  • Familiarise yourself with the ABC check and other quick and easy maintenance checks over on our basics hub here.

What Should I Wear?

You don’t have to have anything fancy or need to kit yourself out with the latest racing gear. What to wear will depend on the sort of the commute, the distance you’ll travel, and the time of year.

  • If your commute is short: you might be able to wear the clothes you wear to work.
  • If you have a longer commute: you’ll likely need to change your clothes and shower. Wearing a kit that breathes and wicks away sweat might be a more comfortable option.
  • In the wetter months: a decent rain jacket will go a long way. It doesn’t have to be a cycling specific jacket – there are plenty of hiking brands that will do the job well.
  • Please note that wearing a helmet whilst riding a bike is a legal requirement in Western Australia.

What Accessories do you need?

  • USB charged lights – especially in the parts of the year where the daylight hours are short or if you think you might have to stay late at work and end up riding in the darker hours.
  • A lock – it’s a good idea to lock your bike up, even if it’s already in a shed or locker room. The most secure bike lock is a d-lock and is a good idea if you are parking at a train station or in a public place.

Staying Fresh

Many workplaces have a shower, but if you don’t, that isn’t the end of the world.

  • If you’re not too sweaty, some wet wipes might just be enough.
  • Some people sign up to their local gym or swimming pool, not only for a workout, but also to use the shower facilities.
  • Another option could be to use the train to ride part of the way, and using the bike cages at the train station. Or, riding one-way and then taking the train bike, and vice-versa the next day. There is a large network of bike shelters on the Transperth network. You can find out more about where they are located and how to use them here.

Workplaces that Support Active Transport

There are a growing number of workplaces in WA that are becoming bike-friendly. For example, did you know that the City of Swan, the City of Subiaco, and the St John of God Hospital in Subiaco are just a few workplaces that offer a sustainable travel allowance (approx. $10/day) to their employees to travel to work without their cars? The City of Albany even offers salary packaging options to enable their employees to purchase eBikes!

There are many ways that your workplace can become more bike-friendly. If you are interested to hear what other workplaces are doing and share your ideas, make sure to visit the Your Move website, join the growing community, and access extra resources.