Tips for Bike Commuting

Bicycle traffic lightsToday is National Bike to School Day, so if you’ve been toying with the idea of biking to school, or commuting to work, today is a great day to give it a try. There are plenty of advantages to riding a bike including health benefits, economic benefits, and environmental benefits. We know that most of our customers enjoy a healthy lifestyle and spending time outdoors, and anyone can get behind saving some money. That’s why we decided to provide a few tips for bike commuting to celebrate National Bike to School Day!

Did you know that you can ride a bicycle on the sidewalk in the state of Arkansas? Arkansas does not define a bicycle as a vehicle, and with the exception of a few cities (Little Rock, North Little Rock, Hot Springs, and Maumelle), you can legally bike on the sidewalk. Of course, when you’re cycling on the road, all traffic laws apply to you as if you were driving a vehicle. Obeying traffic laws on a bicycle is also a good way to let drivers know that you are responsible, and can help develop a good relationship between drivers and cyclists.

Learn hand signals and use them. Arkansas drivers are notorious for driving without using turn signals. Don’t let this carry over to cycling!

Make sure your bike is in good condition. You could end up falling into traffic if your chain jumps off the gears, and going downhill with defective brakes is not fun. Do yourself a favor and get your bike tuned up on a regular basis.

Research your route. Look at a map to get a sense of the best cycling route. Bike trails, bike lanes, sidewalks, and low traffic roads are all things to look for. If you’re a little wary about biking your new route, scope out your potential route by walking or driving to get a sense of the terrain.

Time trials! Bike to school or bike to work a few times and see how long it takes you to get there. Time yourself going at a comfortable pace, and time yourself booking it. This can keep you from being late, and lets you know exactly how long it takes to gt to where you are going. Getting a sense of your average pace can help you estimate the time required to bike places. Give yourself plenty of time when biking to new places.

Get practice. Get comfortable biking – and comfortable biking with traffic – before taking on a busy road. Being able to ride a bicycle, and being able to comfortably ride a bicycle on the road are two very different things.

Get the right apparel. You don’t have to dress in spandex or lycra to commute to work. In fact, there are plenty of technical garments that are great for cycling and look good enough to wear to school or the office.

Figure out the best way to carry items. Panniers? Saddlebags? Basket? Backpack? Everyone has their own preference. Find the one that’s right for you.

Make yourself weatherproof. One of the disadvantages to commuting is exposure to the elements. If it’s raining, cold, or windy, you’re going to feel it on a bike. Get a good layering system that includes a next-to-skin base layer, insulation, and a shell. You will want waterproof pants and a waterproof jacket when it’s raining, and maybe a dry bag or pack cover to keep your stuff dry.

Though we don’t sell bikes or bike accessories at Uncle Sam’s, we can definitely help get you set up in the apparel department. We carry technical outdoor base layers, shells, mid layers, and more, and have plenty of dry bags to keep your gear dry! Ride your bike down to Evelyn Hills and see what we’ve got!

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