Introducing cycling into your routine

Unless you are already an avid cyclist, the idea of relying on a bicycle as your primary method of transportation may seem scary. The truth is, however, that there are many benefits that come from incorporati"Cycling commuters"ng cycling into your daily route. While it is impossible for some people to bike to school or work due to distance or geographical constraints, many 9-to-5’ers have the flexibility to bike for at least part of their travels. This may include biking to the train/bus station instead of driving.

The benefits of cycling

People choose to commute by bike for a variety of reasons:

1) Cycling is a much cheaper alternative to driving. With a bike, you eliminate the need to purchase gas. The costs of bike repairs are usually a small fraction of the costs of car repairs, and your car will last longer with less wear-and-tear.

2) Cycling is a great form of exercise. Based on the speed you ride and the routes you choose, you can control the physical intensity of your commute. Because biking requires a consistent input of energy, it is great for burning fat and improving overall cardiovascular fitness.

3) Cycling allows you to reduce stress and enjoy nature. Rather than sitting in a car (and getting poorer gas mileage during short trips), cycling provides a way to get fresh air and stretch your legs. Exercising in the morning helps you be more alert during the day, and allows you to release work-related stress on the ride home.

Starting out

If you are thinking of giving bike commutes a try, there are a few things you should know before starting out. The Utah Bicycle Commuter Guide offers suggestions of areas to address before hopping in the saddle and heading to class or work:

  • Make sure your bike operates safely
  • Acquire safety equipment and clothing
  • Choose a route to and from work
  • Choose work and commuting clothes and determine storage options
  • Find secure workplace storage for your bike
  • Decide if bicycling commuting will require any schedule adjustments

If you have considered these steps and your bike is ready to ride, make sure you are familiar with all local traffic laws. Bicycles are defined as vehicles in the state of Utah—therefore, all cyclists must follow Utah motorized vehicle traffic laws when they are traveling on public roadways. The Utah Bicycle Commuter Guide also recommends following these procedures:

  • Ride with the traffic flow and as far right as conditions safely allow
  • Occupy turn lanes when available
  • Obey all traffic signals including stop signs and lights
  • Have at least one hand in control of your bicycle at all times
  • Use bike lanes whenever possible
  • Yield the right-of-way to pedestrians

You can also check the Utah Bicycle Suitability Map for a complete list of which Utah highways prohibit bicycle riding. We recommend only traveling on legal highways if you are confident in your abilities to ride alongside a heavy flow of traffic.

Settling into a routine

Once you understand traffic laws and have all the proper biking gear, it is time to decide on a biking schedule. Especially during your first weeks of bike commuting, it is important not to push yourself too hard. Test out several different routes to determine which one best suites your skill level and time constraints. offers a suggested weekly commuting schedule to improve your biking and keep your endurance consistent.

As you become faster and more comfortable on your bike, it is important to add variety to your trips to avoid boredom. Take different roads home from work, try to (safely) beat personal biking times, or create your own commuting schedule with different obstacles for each day of the week. You may be surprised at how quickly your body gets into better shape—and how much you have learned to love cycling!

Photo Courtesy of Earl Apricot and Creative Commons.