Bicycles are fun, but also functional! You can ride your bike to work, to grab a bite, or to run errands. Although riding to and from a job is called “commuting,” the aforementioned examples all fall under the umbrella of “utility riding.”
The majority of car trips in the US average about 3 miles, which is a very easy distance to cover by bicycle—and, in many cases, it’s actually faster to go by bike! You also get the added benefit of physical activity, which makes you a better, more relaxed, and more productive worker.
Choosing a Commuter/Utility Bicycle
You can turn ANY bike into a commuter utility bike just by wearing a backpack and carrying a lock. For larger loads, we suggest getting a bike with fenders, racks, baskets, or even a coffee-holder. Expect to spend $300 to $4,000 for a new bicycle, or buy a used bike. Even with repairs and added accessories, a used bike can cost as little as $200.
In addition to the add-ons already discussed, pannier bags, which come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes, hang on your racks and enable you to carry your briefcase, laptop, lunch, extra clothes, groceries, etc. You can even use trailers for larger loads!
Whether it’s raining or not, fenders can stop water, mud, and anything else from being splashed onto your clothes. And, of course, bike lights are a great way to increase your visibility—day or night.
Dressing for Commuting
When riding, dress “bright and tight” for visibility, and in layers that enable you to adjust how warm/cool you are. In cold weather, dress warm, but remember you might work up a sweat. Bring a change of clothes for longer commutes, and to help with perspiration, consider keeping a container of wet wipes at your destination.
Organize with your fellow workers to get showers, bike parking and storage, and commuter tax credits for riding to work. To inspire your colleagues, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine offers worksite trainings on bike safety, choosing bikes and accessories, and improving worksite facilities to support bike commuting.
However you use your bike, be sure to plan your route and always follow the rules of the road… and have fun!