From year to year, bike shops in New Zealand commonly see the appearance of a special kind of commuter: the cycling commuter. Whether it’s because of a New Year’s resolution, a consideration for the environment, or a need to beat the traffic, these rush-hour ninjas brave the roads on their bicycles. Some have been doing it for years, even decades, while others are only just beginning.
Now that urban areas like Auckland are being engineered to be more cyclist-friendly, the time has come to embrace the two-wheeled commute. If you’ve considered joining the cycling-commuter community, we’ve got some tips that will help you along the way.
Know the Rules of the Road
According to the Road Guide for Cyclists, the safety code for commuting on two wheels is as follows:
- A bicycle helmet that meets safety standards must always be worn.
- Bicycles must have functioning brakes and reflectors.
- Cycle lights must be used if it is dim or dark.
- Always ride as close as you can to the left side of the road and indicate using hand signals before you turn.
It’s best to treat yourself like a small vehicle on the road. You must still obey all the rules of the road, and practice caution! Some drivers are distracted and don’t look out for a cyclist in their blind spot, so it’s best to be alert for the whole journey. Head to the Road Code website for all the cyclist rules of the road.
Think About Your Needs
Everyone’s commute is a little bit different, so rather than going completely by the book, start by thinking about what your commute will look like. How early will you need to leave, and will you be cycling in the dark? If so, you’ll need to pick up some solid cycle lights to illuminate both you and the road. It’s crucial that you are always visible to drivers!
Does it rain often where you live, or is it cold? If that’s the case, you’ll most likely want to invest in a good overlayer using a material like GoreTex. These jackets wick sweat, protect you from the driving rain, and insulate your body against low temperatures on your ride.
Pick Up Quality Gear
Arriving to work absolutely drenched is far from ideal, and having to rebuy the same piece of equipment over and over after it breaks is similarly taxing. It’s better to spend a little more at the beginning and pick up some quality cycling gear, because it will last you for a very long time! Not only that, cycle clothing in New Zealand also needs to meet a certain standard to endure the rain and wind while keeping you warm and dry.
Start Out Slow
Starting a habit like cycling your commute can be daunting. After all, the distance feels a lot further on two wheels than four! But anyone can do it if they give themselves time to acclimate. Instead of starting out commuting five days a week, try one day a week for a little while until you’ve surmounted any lingering anxieties. Then gradually ramp up until you’re doing it daily!
You’ll avoid traffic, get your exercise in during your commute time, and pay nothing for gas. In other words, you’ll be the envy of the office in no time!