When I first got into urban commuting, I didn’t ride a bike to and from work each day. At the time I was taking the bus, because I recently sold my car. I sold my car to avoid ridiculous parking fees each month. My job did offer on-site parking, but customers would scratch and dent my car, due to the fact that the parking lot was as small as a postage stamp.
What was disappointing was that whenever I looked up urban commuting on our good old friend the internet, all that came up was bicycle commuting.
Don’t get me wrong. I love bicycle commuting and think that it’s one of cheapest and easiest ways to commute within an urban environment.
Unlike driving a car, there’s no expensive insurance, registration, parking fees, or gas purchases necessary. All that’s required is going to your local bicycle shop, picking out the bicycle that fits your needs, purchasing it, and riding it home.
And that’s exactly what I did. I bought myself a bicycle and commuted to and from work every single day, for over a year. It didn’t matter if it was boiling hot out, below zero, or thunder storming. Each morning, for 365 days straight, I rode that bike to and from work. By the end of the year, the bicycle had already paid for itself.
Urban commuting isn’t just about riding a bicycle
Focusing on bicycle commuting alone doesn’t explain what true urban commuting is all about.
There’s going to be situations where bicycle commuting may not be the best option, depending on variable factors.
- By the time you head home from work the weather might turn extremely bad.
- You can get caught in an unexpected thunderstorm or snow storm.
- There might not be any place to lock or store your bicycle at work.
- Storing the bicycle inside at home might not be an option.
- You might get a flat on the way to or from work.
- You’re offered a ride home but the bicycle doesn’t fit in the trunk of the vehicle.
- It might be too far to bike the whole way to work.
- The bus or train is too crowded to allow you to take your bike.
What exactly is urban commuting?
To me, urban commuting is about getting from point A to B in the most efficient way possible. That means, it can be by car, bus or train, walking, or a combination of mixing a bicycle with public transportation.
It doesn’t matter how you get to your final destination. All that matters is that you get there with the least amount of stress. Safely, and without paying a fortune in the process.
Here’s the best tips for commuting
After commuting using all forms of transportation on a daily basis, all year round, in all weather conditions, I think I might have learned a few tricks along the way.
I had to learn the following tips the hard way by trial and error, but fortunately, you don’t have to. That’s because I’m willing to share them with you. And hopefully, if you have any tips of your own, will share them in the comments section below, so that others can benefit from them.
Let’s start with the most important one first and then move on from there.
Preparation is key
Getting ready for your commute the next day, actually starts the night before. The type of transportation you choose will change your preparation slightly, but will still follow the same principles.
The last thing you want to do in the morning is get everything ready at the last minute. This is where a backpack or sackpack comes in handy. What I use to do was keep everything in my sackpack that I didn’t use on a daily basis but still might need.
Then I’d pack everything that I would be using that day such as the house keys, chap stick, sunglasses, etc. That way, when I was heading out the door in the morning, I didn’t have to find everything. Or worse yet, forget something, and run back home, possibly missing my bus.
Another great tip is to have the clothes that you’re going to wear the next day, already out. Pick out your pants, shirts, jackets, etc, and have them ready to go. Place them on a chair or other convenient location.
And don’t forget to prepare and pack your lunch before heading to bed.
Have your money or bus (train) ticket ready
There’s nothing worse than having to wait for a passenger to get their money ready, especially when the bus or train is already running late.
Not only is this inconsiderate, but can also mean the difference between missing the second bus or train by a few minutes.
Don’t be inconsiderate by being unprepared. Have your money ready in a separate pocket. Or if you ride the bus or train every day, purchase a weekly or monthly pass ahead of time, and ready before boarding public transportation.
And never take your wallet or money out in public. Wait until you’re at the booth to purchase your bus or train ticket.
Don’t forget your personal belongings on the bus or train
It’s very easy to forget to grab your personal belongings when leaving the bus or train. This is especially true if you’re just starting urban commuting and haven’t established the habit of always carrying stuff.
A great way to avoid accidentally leaving your stuff behind is to pick a place to sit where you can leave your stuff on the outer seat. This way, when you get up to exit the bus or train, you have to remove your stuff in order to be able to leave.
And by putting everything into one backpack or sackpack, you will have less stuff to remember to grab. It’s much easier to grab one bag, instead of 4 items.
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Make sure your bicycle is in good working condition
Besides picking a reliable bicycle that has racks and fenders, it’s also very important to keep it maintained and in good working condition.
Make it a point to keep your chain clean and oiled. Check the tires periodically to make sure the tire pressure is not too low or high. And have a bicycle mechanic give it a good tune up every 4-6 months.
Take care of your bicycle, and your bicycle will take care of you. The last thing you want is to have a breakdown at night, in the middle of nowhere.
Get a folding bicycle
If you don’t have room at home to store a regular sized bike, or nowhere at work to lock it, you can always consider a folding bicycle.
Unlike a regular bicycle, you can easily store a folding bike anywhere. Another benefit is that you can combine it with public transportation. Instead of having to ride the full distance to work, you can ride to the bus (train) stop. Fold it up. Hop on public transportation, and finish your journey at the other end. A folding bicycle is also very handy for when the weather suddenly turns sour. You can put it in the trunk of a taxi or Uber. Plus, they ride just as good as a regular bicycle in an urban environment.
Don’t underestimate the benefit of riding a Xootr Scooter
Let’s say your bus or train is always crowded, forcing you to stand with your folding bicycle. I perfectly understand, because I use to do the same.
Or you might not have far to walk to the bus (train) stop, and a folding bike is overkill. This is where a Xootr scooter excels.
A Xootr scooter is light enough to carry to your bus (train) stop. Compact enough to fit in between any seat. And can definitely get you to your destination at the other end very quickly. Once you arrive at work, you can quickly fold it, and store it anywhere without anyone even knowing it’s there.
To find out more about about Xootr scooters, visit: https://www.xootr.com/
You can always walk
Unless you live less than a mile away from work, walking is the slowest form of transportation.
If you do choose to walk longer distances because you truly enjoy it, make sure you get a good pair of sneakers. There’s nothing worse than arriving to work with sore, tired feet.
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Urban commuting can be stressful if not properly planned out. There’s a lot to deal with such as noise, traffic jams, and slow public transportation that sometimes runs late. And even the occasional passenger that doesn’t have his/her money ready before boarding.
But, not everything is bad news when it comes to commuting in a city environment. There’s a lot you can do to make it less stressful, and even fun under certain circumstances.
By being prepared ahead of time and knowing the types of transportation options that are available to you, urban commuting doesn’t have to be feared.