Keeping it Fun Commuting By Bike!

35-ECW_UrbanCyclingGuide_Coversketches-1000x790Hey friends, a small plug for my friend Yvonne Bambrick's new book "The Urban Cycling Survival Guide" just out this month for purchase here. The book contains lots of great common sense advice for those new cyclists or those hungry to sharpen their skills on buying a bike, the rules of the road and basic maintenance, just to scratch the surface.

I'm quoted in it, but thought via this blog entry that this it is also an opportunity to offer some supplemental riding advice I've been handing out for two decades. (That is to those willing to listen.)

-  When planning a bike commute, shortest does not always equal fastest or best, no matter what your map or app tells you. For example, I have three ways to get to work from my home in Jackson Heights to Canal Street in lower Manhattan (see my Streetfilm below). One is 11 miles (using Manhattan Bridge), one is 9.5 (using Williamsburg Bridge) and one is 8.5 miles (using QBB).  Most would think to save time you'd choose the shortest over the QBB, but since the longer route hugs much of the Brooklyn coastline, it is usually quicker (far fewer traffic signals to stop for) and it is much safer (many protected bike lanes, more riders, fewer vehicles).

- Talk with fellow riders (and drivers) while stopped for lights. Most cyclists are talkative and fun to share a few words with. But drivers can be too - and it reminds them you are more than an object in the street, you're a real person. I've had some memorable exchanges over the years. Just a few months ago it was extremely cold and I was woefully underdressed riding a Citibike.. I let out a loud howl trying to stay warm as I pulled up next to a cab at a red light. The cabbie start laughing. 10363826_10152499772593499_5554460730242940354_nHe rolled down his window and we chatted. He kindly offered me a spare pair of gloves since I had none. He then said, "Vision Zero, baby!" A great spontaneous NYC moment.

-  Don't be afraid to get a little lost.  Once you get comfortable in a routine, if you have ample time try to change it up a little. I do this often on the journeys home as I near the end of summer knowing that the warmth is fading. I'll meander here or there to add a few miles and use roads I've never been on. Make an impromptu left here. Take a different crosstown route there. See that new pedestrian plaza in that neighborhood you're rarely in. I can't tell you how many discoveries and favorite spots I have stumbled upon at random. Or just watching the sunset from a new place.

- Go multi-modal (and multi-bike-modal!)  Depending upon the season, I go thru many phases of how I'm feeling physically/mentally. I love bike commuting but I equally love walking and transit.  For this reason it's always good to be a bike share member if your city has it. There have been plenty days where I am too tired or cranky to bike in. But once I get off the train at the office I wish I had ridden. No problem.  I'll spend much of the day on a Citibike logging 10 or 20 miles running my errands, making meetings and filming whatever I see.

What would you add? What do you like to do to stay psyched?