Riding your bike to work is a fun thing to do but can sometimes be a little hard to keep up, not least in the winter months.
We are all aware of the benefits of leading fit and active lives, but it can be a different story to get yourself inspired to cycle to work on a solo journey on some mornings.
However, to push you into riding just that bit more often, or even just to make a start, here are 14 tips to give you that extra bike commute motivation:
- Ride for wellness
- Join a bike commute challenge
- Do it with friends
- Get better gear
- Improve your fitness
- Think long-term
- Save money
- Increase your productivity
- Embrace the weather
- Benefits to your environment
- Benefits for your family
- Lose weight
- Sleep better
- Have fun!
Now let’s look at these points in just a little more detail to help you find that push to get rolling to work on your bicycle soon!
Ride for Wellness
Cycling to work every morning can help you to find time to relax during a busy working day. Compare this to the standard commute with cars stuck in traffic, horns blaring and exhausts pumping out fumes.
Cycling can be a fantastic way to escape, at least a little, from the crowds of the commuter rush hour and make your way to or from work in a slightly more relaxing atmosphere.
Heck, there’s seven a book dedicated to this very subject, Ben Irvine’s Einstein and the Art of Mindful Cycling.
As research notes on subjective well-being, “Studies consistently find travel by walking and bicycling to be rated more positively than automobile travel”.
Having been a regular cycle commuter for some 6 years now, I know which path I’d rather take, and which one leaves me feeling better at the end of the day!
Join a Bike Commute Challenge
There are few things like a challenge to get the motivation up, not least in bike commuting! Fortunately, these kinds of challenges are becoming more and more common, and are free and easy to participate in.
Some rely on using apps on your smartphone or other smart devices, while others allow you to log your time manually on a website.
However these challenges run, they usually involve logging times and provide a public leaderboard to hold participants accountable and to motivate people to bike commute more often.
To give you a flavor of what’s out there, below are a couple of the standout events in the USA, although there are plenty more if you search for your area in Google!
Strava App Bike Commute Challenges
This handy app for tracking exercise, including cycling, offers a bike commute challenge to users on a regular basis.
Although I have not participated, it appears to happen every month or so and therefore they are incredibly easy to join and get involved with, helping you to keep up your bike commuting habits.
It’s really as simple as just getting the app on your chosen device and hitting start and finish at the end of your bike commute to log your rides. The app will take care of the rest!
I actually have Strava connected to my Fitbit, so I can log rides directly without pulling out my smartphone (definitely handy on cold mornings with thick winter gloves on!)
The thing I like most about the Strava Bike Commute challenges is just how easy to participate in and frequent they are.
This means that you don’t have wait long if you miss the start date since the next one will be along in no time at all!
Strava is a ‘freemium’ app, meaning that you can use most of its features for free but can choose to pay for extras if you like.
Love to Ride’s National Bike Challenge
Love to Ride USA organize the annual ‘National Bike Challenge’ in early summer. This again is totally free and is open to individuals, communities and workplaces.
The National Bike Challenge for Workplaces simply involves entering your organization to see how many miles you can log collectively in the month of the challenge.
This again has the classic public leaderboard and pits teams against each other. The nice side of this is that it make individuals feel part of something bigger than just riding to work solo, thus adding to your motivation to cycle to work.
Active Transport Alliance of Chicago’s Bike Commuter Challenge
In Chicago, the Bike Commuter Challenge is yet another great event doing similar things to the the National Bike Challenge above.
They also declare a winner in both the men’s and women’s (individual) categories, as well as by workplace sector, with a ride range of different fields covered and looking quite competitive!
Do it with friends
Having friends ride with you can be a great way to maintain or boost your motivation. As you’ll no doubt be aware, friends can hold us accountable and also push us along when we are feeling hesitant or reluctant.
This kind of social influence can be an extremely helpful thing in the case of cycling to work since, ultimately, it will lead to us riding more often, even if we try to wriggle out of it sometimes!
In terms of finding friends to ride with, obviously it helps to find people who live near you and that you like. However, if this is not possible, you could look to meeting at one of your houses and starting the journey by bike from there, since driving or using public transportation part of the way isn’t the end of the world, especially if it means that you will end up riding to work that much more as a result!
The key to finding a bike commuting buddy is really in just asking around and seeing who is interested. Obviously you can’t force people to do it, but you might just stumble on someone who has been thinking the same but has not voiced their thoughts – you just simply have to ask the question and find out.
Get Better Gear
If your cycling gear is uncomfortable, unsuitable or just plain bad, then you might find you get a boost from having new gear.
I know that my old commuter bike, despite my romantic visions of keeping it going for years, was a constant source of frustration with gears that slipped endlessly, particularly at crucial times and almost always on hills. This was something I had grown accustomed to and even thought was fairly normal, that was until I got my new commuter bike and realized that I had unnecessarily been riding with sub-standard bike for several years and could have jumped ship much sooner!
This is not to say that buying a new commuter bike will bring you happiness and joy, more that replacing defective bikes and gear can go a long way to helping you look forward to bike commute again, especially if you are struggling to motivate yourself.
The things to look into are the items or accessories that cause you frustration on a daily basis. Perhaps your bike seat is just a bit too hard to be comfortable, or your waterproof commuter jacket lets in a bit more rain that it used to, whatever it is, look to fix it or replace it ASAP.
Again, this does not mean spending a small fortune on new gear, more that you could make some changes to enhance your riding experience from tomorrow that will mean you ride that bit more on a regular basis, which should provide a valuable return on investment in just about anybody’s books.
Improve Your Fitness
You might not realise it but your level of physical fitness might be causing to bike commute less. I know – this might be a ‘chicken and the egg’ scenario in that you can bike commute to get fit, but remember that you can also get fit to bike commute!
If this sounds like you, then you can start by riding a little more on your weekends or in your free time. This can help you build up to riding to work on a more regular basis.
You can also look into using exercise bikes at your local gym, or even getting one for your home. This muscle memory will help you later on in terms of feeling fully prepared for your cycle commute.
You could also looking into just walking a little more if you are really struggling as this can also be a good build-up to cycling.
I know that since I’ve been doing regular workouts at the gym (not really on the exercise bikes), I have felt more motivated to cycle to work since I feel the difference and the ride becomes less strenuous and more relaxing.
Although passing up on bike commuting on one day is likely to make very little difference to your life, not doing it on a regular basis can certainly make a significant difference.
If you adopt a long-term mindset to your bike commute, then you are more likely to stick with it more often than not.
A further point is to think of how much more exercise you can fit into your daily routine by just cycling two times a week over a couple of years. Let’s say that you work 50 weeks of the year, cycling twice for 40 of those weeks, giving you 80 days of bike commuting to work. To allow for riding to and from work, this would be 160 journeys.
Now, let’s assume your bike commute journey is around 20 minutes each way, that then gives you an extra 3,200 minutes of exercise per year, or 53 hours and 20 minutes.
If you up the ante and go 3-4 times a week, then again, thinking long term, you will make an exponential gain in terms of the amount of exercise you can fit into your day.
If you were to repeat the bike commuting above over a 10-year period, that would then mean 533 hours and 20 minutes.
If that doesn’t motivate you to get on your bike, then I don’t know what will!
Continuing on from the point above about exercise time gained from cycling to work, we can also think about cost savings, too.
If you again cycled just two days a week, you could reduce your spend on gasoline by over a third each and every week. The same goes for using public transportation, or any other costs incurred from driving, such as parking, wear and tear on your car, among others.
For more detail on this, have a look at this ultimate resource I prepared on how much you can save by bike commuting to work.
Increase Your Productivity
What if I said that cycling to work could also help you to be more productive? Well, that’s what some published works have noted to be the case.
According to HR Magazine, employers who took part in their survey noted that bike commuters were more productive and punctual at work. They go on to state that car drivers can often arrive at work feeling stressed due to traffic issues
Another study in 2013 acknowledged the connection between stress and productivity, with stress being higher among those who drive than those with an ‘active commute’ (which includes cycling).
Even if you question the points above, it’s worth thinking of as a possible gain, with nothing to lose. So, if a more productive day of work sounds appealing, then why not try it?
Embrace the Weather
The rainy mornings might not seem like a blessing or a joy, but with a slight shift in mindset, you can still stay motivated to get on your bike, even when the skies are not on your side.
But if you think of the ride to work as an opportunity for some more fresh air, then this can inspire you to get on your bike. Remember that the alternative is being on public transportation or in your car, which doesn’t sound all that appealing by comparison.
If you get the right gear for bike commuting in the rain, then you likely won’t get wet at all. In fact, some days when I get to work after a torrential downpour, I come in drier than most of my colleagues who have made the short journey from the car park to the office!
The only hassle is that I have to take off my waterproof clothing, a small price to pay for extra time outdoors doing exercise.
The same goes for other adverse conditions including snow; if you make the extra effort and have the right gear, you will be rewarded. It’s just a matter of habit.
We are all aware of the impact of cars and motorized vehicles on contributing to climate change through air pollution around the world, so I will save you the rant here.
However, the impact of this poor air quality on our health is less well known by the general population, with some quite surprising and even shocking statistics.
If we think on a local level, reducing our own carbon footprint can not only benefit us and our families, but it can also impact the entire community, avoiding tons of carbon being emitted.
If you also think about making the switch to bike commuting just a few times a week, then the solutions you find along the way can be shared with others you know, helping them to do the same.
In a similar vein to the environmental benefits outlined above, by merely riding to work, you are setting a positive example to your family.
This ‘modeling’ of positive behavior can be extremely influential in shaping perceptions of those around you.
By being this positive example, you can broaden the horizons of those in your family and help them to embrace cycling as a form of transport, which it ultimately is, and not just a leisure-time activity.
If you are a parent, consider the impact this can have on your children in their formative years. The psychological aspect of normalizing cycling as a way to commute not only might make them more likely to do it in future but it could also help them to learn from just watching what you do, giving them a clear idea of how to do it and all the adjustments necessary to make it work.
If you do not have children or a significant other, you can still confer similar benefits to those in your wider family by telling them about your bike commute and letting them see you do it. This may sound marginal but it can be the small things that make a big difference.
The practical side of bike commuting is something that inspires me to get up and go quite often.
I have a bike outside, I can hop on it, with a few minor adjustments for weather, and be at work in a similar time to that which it takes me to drive or go by public transportation.
So bike commuting can be immensely practical in the sense of time.
Further to this, I can also park my bike almost outside the door of my office, while colleagues have to spend countless hours each week circling to find a parking spot. I know that I can always lock my bike up outside without any hassle, and no permit to pay for either!
Another point to note is that, if you have a classic rush-hour traffic-jam-laden commute by car, then you might find that you actually sail past many of the frustrated drivers sitting in their cars. Once you get up on the saddle of your bike, you can then see just how practical it can be, yet another point to push you to ride to work in the near future.
You might also find some inspiration in the fact that bike commuting could also help you to lose weight.
This obviously depends on a few factors, such as frequency, distance, hills and the intensity with which you ride, but we know that cycling is classed as a more intense, or ‘moderate-vigorous’ physical activity.
This means that it can help you to burn quite a few calories, which can show in the form of weight loss. In fact, cycling burns 400-1000 calories per hour depending on how you ride.
Now, it’s worth noting that cycling combined with a healthy diet is the best way to lose weight, so also bear in mind what you are eating since rewarding yourself with extra cake or sweets might not pay off in the long run when cycling to work!
At its simplest, bike commuting provides the opportunity for exercise which takes place outdoors. This combination can help you to sleep better in two distinct ways.
The first is from being physically tired after participating in the exercise that it gives you. We all know the feeling of being tired after doing some sport or activity and bike commuting is no different in this respect.
The other way is a little more subtle, in that being outdoors helps your body to produce Vitamin D. This vitamin is also known to help us to sleep. In fact, it produces this even on an overcast day so cycling in all weathers comes into its own yet again.
Added to this above is the point that cycling to work can help with serotonin production, which again can enhance your sleep.
Lastly, an official report by Cycling England in the UK from 2007 also noted the benefits of cycling for aiding sleep, so it’s definitely something to consider if you are having trouble getting enough of it on a regular basis.
At the end of the day, on top of all the other benefits outlined above to help motivate you, cycling to work can be incredibly fun!
Of course, it won’t all be sunshine and rainbows, but it is usually a heck of a lot more fun than driving a car or spending your time cooped up on public transportation.
The added hours of time outdoors can be great for your overall health and wellbeing, as well as a little extra boost on a day that might otherwise be spent indoors.
What is the best bicycle for commuting to work? A bike that is comfortable and reliable that suits your route is the honest answer here. Hybrids are good for moderate distances and good surfaces, with touring bikes great for longer rides and heavier bags.Road bikes are suited to speed and, unsurprisingly, riding on roads.
For more, check out this detailed guide I’ve prepared to help you identify the right type of bike for your commute to work – you won’t regret it!
Is cycling to work a good idea? Yes, it is a great idea since it can help you to be more physically active during your work day, lose weight, save money, help the environment and be more productive at work, all of which are outlined in more detail in this post.