By Laura Strachan, volunteer writer
Welcome to the beginning of your new lifestyle! Making the decision to be a bike commuter is a big one – and a rewarding one! The benefits of bike commuting are seemingly endless, from daily exercise to financial savings to being part of a community – a movement, if you will.
With our dense population, city infrastructure and the quality of gear at affordable costs, it seems like an obvious choice to get around this urban landscape with ease and efficiency. But where do you start?
You might be inclined to jump into things by eagerly spending oodles of cash on the best gear out there. You want to look the part, right? Fancy bike, high tech clothing for all elements, cycling shoes, et cetera, because you’re no newb! But before you hand over your credit card, start with acquiring the basic gear that will get you through your first season of commuting.
Get a feel for your commute and what would work best for your needs. Do you even need to buy your own bike or would getting a Bike Share Toronto membership work better for you? Also think about your destination. Can you store gear or clothing at work? Is there secure bike storage locker or rack? Does your office have a shower?
These factors can influence what gear you need to make your commute as smooth and effortless as possible. If getting out the door with your bike is a hassle in the morning, you might be inclined to abandon this idea altogether.
The Bike: The requirements for a commuter bike are pretty basic: two wheels, working breaks, a comfy seat and gears if you don’t want to struggle too much with hills. Commuter bikes or hybrids will have tires that are smooth on roads but have some tread that can provide traction through gravel, bumps or wet weather.
COST: $400-$650 will get you a decent mid-level bike that you can always customize to suit your needs.
Helmet: Get one. Any one.
COST: $30 & up
Lights: The more you’re lit up, the better you are seen. Red for the rear, white for the front.
COST: $5 & up
Lock: Make sure your ride is there when you leave work. Invest in a decent lock that provides the security you’ll need while you’re working.
COST: $19 – $99
Mirror: Not a necessity, but having a better view of traffic around you will keep you alert and safe.
Packs : If you have items you need to bring to work everyday such as a laptop or change of clothes, you can opt for a backpack, front basket or rear pannier rack. Consider which method you would be most comfortable maneuvering with.
COST: $29 & up
The cost savings from switching from a TTC 12 Month Pass to cycling regularly leaves you with more than enough money left over to take transit on days when the weather isn’t so good. Remember that the ultimate goal is to get to your workplace safely and efficiently, whatever the cost. Soon you will be on your way with a daily sense of accomplishment and admiration from your colleagues as you cruise through traffic. Bon voyage!