Basic Tips and Resources for New Bicycle Commuters

With public transit service still recovering after Hurricane Sandy, more New Yorkers than ever are turning to bicycle commuting. Last Thursday, the NYC Department of Transportation counted 30,000 cyclists on the East River bridge crossings versus the usual 13,000. The New York Times noted that “in post-storm New York, the bike is having a moment.” Even the online fashion powerhouse Refinery29 asked, “Is Biking the New Post-Sandy Driving?

With new bicycle commuters hitting the streets, and riders hauling bikes out of storage in the wake of Sandy, we’ve compiled a quick list of popular links, tips and resources for getting around NYC on two wheels. Please share, using the buttons at the end of this post!

For answers to FAQs about cycling in NYC, please check our NYC Toolbox and City Cycling 101  pages. As always, if you have questions, comments or suggestions, please contact us!

Plan a Safe Route

Check your ABCs:

Air: Pump up your tires. The correct pressure is stamped on the sidewalls.
Brakes: Give your brakes a squeeze as you gently roll the bike forward.
Chain: Run your fingers across the links. If they seem dry, they need lube.

If your bike has been in storage for a while, wheel it to a local bike shop for some TLC!

Ride with Friends:

Teaming up can help boost bike-lane confidence. Ask a friend to ride with you. Also, check out the new and @NYCBikeTrain for group commutes.

What to Wear:

  • Layer. At this time of year, an extra sweater or light vest is a good choice.
  • Protect extremities. Gloves, a light cap that fits under your helmet and warm socks or tights help keep you warm, along wih your beating heart.
  • Pick comfortable clothes with some stretch that move with you on the bike.
  • Pack an extra shirt or blouse for the office in a dry cleaning bag, and cosmetics to freshen up.

How to Carry Your Stuff:

No basket or panniers? Use a backpack or a cross-shoulder bag. With the latter, shorten up the strap to keep the bag high on your back. In a pinch, use plastic grocery sacks to make a quick cross-shoulder bag (video).

Commuting Essentials:

1. Helmet
2. Lock and keys
3. Bike lights  white for the front, red for rear
4. Bell

Bells and lights are required by law! All of the above are available at local bike shops. Tips for choosing gear here.

NYC Cycling Resources:

Check, the online hub for NYC cycling events, deals and resources.
Log onto Bike New York for commuter and learn-to-bike classes.
Download a Bike Smart brochure  from the NYC DOT.
Follow #bikenyc on twitter

Top photo: Bicycle commuter Jennifer Hernandez. (via Transportation Alternatives)

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