With fuel prices soaring and spring weather making it a glorious time to be outdoors, why not bike to work? Kick things off on May 20, National Bike-to-Work Day. If you’re lucky enough to live a few miles from your job (or more depending on your fitness level), why not ditch the car keys for a greener way to get to and from?

When you bike to work, you’re racking up all kinds of benefits, including:

-Increased cardiovascular health
-Improved muscle strength and flexibility
-Decreased stress
-Positively influencing your mental health
-Reducing your carbon footprint
-Lowering body fat levels
-Better overall balance and coordination
-Starting off your morning with a healthy activity

If commuting on two wheels sounds like a plan, here are some tips to get you ready to pedal.

Sign up for Middle Peninsula Ride Share, which rewards you with discounts and incentives when you log your miles. You can even log miles taking trips to the store or visiting a friend.

If your bike has been gathering dust in the garage, do a quick check to make sure you’re good to go before the day of. Perform a safety check by making sure your tires are fully inflated, verify that your brakes work as they should and ensure your chain moves freely. Add oil if needed.

Make sure you invest in a quality bike lock and be sure you’ve scoped out where you want your bike to be while you’re working. Don’t skimp on a lock. You want to find your bike where you left it.

Make sure you have a place to store materials you want to tote with you. Pannier racks are ideal. Backpacks and baskets are other options.

Keep extra clothes and shoes at the office even if you don’t plan to change. That way you’re prepared for a sudden rainstorm or splash from a passing car. Also, have a toiletries kit there so you can freshen up when you arrive.

Even if you don’t plan to bike at dusk, make sure you and your bike are as visible as possible. Use bike lights and reflective gear. Bright colors are best when riding.

Wear your helmet!

It’s always good to make a dry run prior to your workday so you don’t run across anything unexpected on the route.

Make sure your distance is doable. Remember you have to ride back. If in doubt, catch a ride one way.

Remember to use hand signals and follow the rules of the road.

Leave the earbuds for another time. It’s best to be as alert as possible on the road.

Learn how to fix a flat and have the right gear onboard just in case.

Happy cycling!

The Middle Peninsula Rideshare Commuter Services – MidPenRideShare – are provided by the Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission’s Transportation Demand Management Program in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation. This program exists to assist persons who are seeking transportation alternatives to commuting within and from the Middle Peninsula area.