Quick Start Your Commute

June 30, 2021

Riding to work for the first time can be daunting. But with some preparation, riding between home and the office can be a breeze. Here’s a checklist to help you bike to the office with confidence.

Gear up

So many biking accoutrements are a matter of personal choice, but there are two basic essentials:

  1. Helmet: The Giro Register MIPS is one of our favorites. This universal fit helmet comes with MIPS (a technology that protects against brain injury), is lightweight, and clocks in at $60. For a cheaper option, check out the Stanford Campus Bike Shop, where you can purchase a Consumer Product Safety Commission-tested helmet for a cool $25. For more on helmets, including fit and recommendations, check out our Helmet Guide.

  2. Lights if you’re biking at night: Knog makes a great USB charging light set that uses a rubber strap system to hook on and off the bike. These will help others see you at night, but don’t expect them to light up your path. For more recommendations, see our bike lights post.

☑ Choose comfy clothes

We’re firm believers in clothes that can do double duty. If you need to wear business attire, you can in fact bike in skirts, suits, slacks, oxfords, pumps, etc. If you have a long, hilly, or otherwise sweaty commute, it’s nice to bike in workout clothes and change when you get to work. You don’t need technicolor spandex, but sometimes those padded shorts help with long commutes.

☑ Plan your route

Google Maps is a good tool for finding a good bike route. To get a route:

  • Type in your work destination in the search bar

  • Click the “Directions” icon

  • Put in your home address

  • Select the bicycle icon

Maps will generate one to several route options that are generally good for bikes. Pro tip: If you click on the “Layers” icon on the bottom of your map, then the “Biking” icon, the map will become awash with green squiggles. These lines indicate roads or paths that are generally good for cyclists.

If you are trying to find a good bike route to work, we have some resources you may want to check out. First is our in-house bike map — these are "bunny slope" routes sourced by actual SRP employees who ride every day. Additionally you may find our routing blog post helpful.

If you’re riding a commute route for the first time, we suggest doing it on the weekend first. This helps you familiarize yourself with its turns and gives you a sense of how safe you’ll feel riding it during commute hours.

Make sure your bike is rideable

Before riding any bike, there are a few items you want to check out to make sure the bike is functioning safely. Thankfully there’s an easy way to remember this: the ABC Quick Check.

  • Air: Make sure the tires are pumped up and hold air.

  • Brakes: Make sure the bike can stop.

  • Chain and cranks: Make sure the chain, end everything it touches, is clean and functional. Tug lightly on your cranks (these are the round parts with grooved edges that your chain hooks into) to make sure they aren’t loose.

  • Quick: Make sure the quick releases (a.k.a. wheel axles) are properly tightened.

  • Check: Take a quick spin to listen for any odd noises.

Here’s a short video that explains how to perform the ABC Quick Check.

Track your ride and get rewards

When you register at SRPGO.com and track the days you commute by bicycle, you earn reward points for gift cards of your choice or donations to nonprofits. Registration also grants you access to the Guaranteed Ride Program (in case your bike breaks down to or from work), free Zipcar registration, prize drawings and rewards, special events, and more.

Helpful hint: You can automatically sync your SRPGO account with your Strava account to automatically track commute trips. Or download the commute tracker found on your SRPGO home dashboard to accomplish automatic tracking.

Let us know how it went!

Drop us a line at srpgo@stanford.edu. We’d love to hear what worked, what didn’t, and how we can help.

Want more on commuting by bike? Check out Bike Commuting Basics and Urban Riding for more detailed information.


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