Bike sales shot up in March, according to the N.P.D. Group, a market research firm based in Port Washington, New York. Americans bought more bikes of every kind, from children’s bikes to indoor stationary bikes, as well as bike training equipment. Sales of gravel bikes and front suspension mountain bikes surged.
Cycling provides a good no-contact option for outdoor activity during prolonged stay-at-home orders. Stationary bikes also provide at-home alternatives to closed gyms. Cities like New York and Seattle have closed miles of streets to accommodate the need for socially distant outdoor activities.
Eventually, businesses operating remotely will open up their workplaces again. As workers contemplate going back to the office, predictions are that lingering concerns about COVID-19 and public transportation will have many workers exploring how to get started commuting by bike.
Bike commuters are primarily concerned with safety. Sharing city streets with cars and busses requires alertness and agility. Planning a bicycle-commuting route means identifying streets with bike lanes.
For those who already own bikes or are able to find them during the time of extreme demand, safety requires proper gear. Lights, reflectors, and helmets are basic requirements. Bike commuters should also consider wearing bright, reflective clothing that heightens their visibility to drivers. Bike commuters should keep their phone and a patch kit handy.
First-time bike commuters should take a test run on a weekend and take careful note of road conditions. Spring in the Midwest means potholes. Coming upon a large pothole unexpectedly can upend a cyclist in dangerous conditions. You might also want to identify construction zones and plan alternatives.
New bike commuters must plan for what happens once they arrive at work. Any bike ride involves a bit of sweat, but as summer comes on, sweat can become more intense. Pack a small but serviceable backpack with toiletries and a change of clothes just in case.
Lane markings, stoplights, and stop signs apply to cyclists. Bike commuters must follow the rules of the road, just like drivers. Commuters in vehicles become provoked with cyclists who weave between lanes or turn unpredictably. Learn appropriate hand signals, and use them.
Getting decked out in fancy cycling gear from head to toe isn’t necessary. Comfort, visibility, safety, and a well-maintained bike should be the top concerns for workers learning how to get started commuting by bike. At present, patience is also required as shops are swamped with orders for new bikes. Used bikes can be good temporary substitutes, as long as they get a good tune-up and safety check. Go over tire pressure, brakes, chain lubrication, and saddle adjustment to ensure comfort and safety. Predications are that bike commuting is here to stay even after COVID-19. Cyclists should have a plan for maintaining social distance in the bike lanes as the crowds begin to grow.