My first commuter bike was a Schwinn mountain bike purchased from the children's department at Toys R' Us. It was the wrong size, heavy, and little clunky, but to me it represented a new freedom. It was my final semester of my master's program, I was recently divorced, working part time and living off my savings. While I did own a car, my income was insufficient for me to drive it into school and work, so I started biking.
|My First Commuting Bike|
|The Mishawaka Riverwalk: The place of my first commute|
(image from http://www.reasite.com/projects-fullscreen/trails-greenways/)
I did not read up on cycling laws and therefore, road my bike on the sidewalk when I was too nervous to ride in the road. I am shaming myself right now just thinking about it. I did not have lights installed on my bike for about two weeks of night riding and I did not fully understand their importance. I also did not wear a helmet, even when the roads were slippery. In fact, it was not until the first snow that I began to think that a helmet might be a good idea. I also biked to work in the rain one day without a change of clothes and three hours later I was still dripping wet and shivering. Still I kept biking and I kept learning from my errors. I writing about all these things for a few reasons. First, I want to encourage new riders in the knowledge that everyone makes a least a few rookie mistakes and secondly, I hope that my sharing of my rookie mistakes will keep others from making the same mistakes.
My top three pieces of advice to a new commuter are the following:
1. Wear a helmet. We (well quite a few of us) put ourselves in massive amounts of student loan debt to put information into our brains, so we might as well protect them.
2. Your attitude is more important than the type of bike you ride. Many of us started out on some very un-fancy bikes, the important thing is that you are using your bike to go places and that it is safe to ride. So take pride in your steed, even if it did come from a yard sale or children's department.
3. Find someone else who rides and is willing to answer your questions. Also, along those lines, if you already ride, make yourself available to help out new commuters and welcome the new ones to our awesome community.
Also, remind your friends with commuting questions that Taking the Lane puts out a new article every Thursday all about commuting.