IU employees share their tips for biking to work

It's a celebration of commuter cycling: Bike to Work Day on May 17.

Bikes hooked up to a bike rack on the IU campus
Bike to Work Day is May 17. Photo by Eric Rudd, Indiana University

And it's a day for everyone, regardless of whether you bike daily or just on occasion.

"Bike to Work Day is a day to try it out. And if you haven't ridden a bike all winter, you can get your bike out and dust it off," said Anna Dragovich, transportation demand management coordinator and bicycle manager at Indiana University Bloomington.

Dragovich added that while college campuses are generally bike friendly, a vast majority of people still choose to drive.

On the Bloomington campus, 6 percent of faculty and staff bike to campus, according to a 2017 IU Transportation Demand Management survey. That means there is room for improvement in making biking to work more attractive, she said.

Sometimes it comes down to logistics and questions like: What do I wear? Or how do I carry everything?

So, whether you are an avid cyclist just looking for more tips or someone who is still unsure about biking to campus, these tips from fellow IU employees will help you prepare for Bike to Work Day and every day.

Eric Bain-Selbo, IU Kokomo

When it comes to selecting a bike for commuting, the dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences advises riding a hybrid or mountain bike. That way, if road conditions force a cyclist onto the sidewalk, grass or gravel, it's easier to still control the bike. When it comes to clothes, Bain-Selbo said it will feel colder once you start riding than it does when you first walk outside, so wear layers. And lastly, if your pants rub against the spokes or chain, use Velcro straps to hold your pant legs away from them.

Mark Canada, IU Kokomo

Canada, executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, commutes by either biking or walking. He prepares by always having extra dress clothes on campus, either in his gym locker or office; that way, he can wear workout clothes to commute, shower at the gym and change clothes. And having multiple sets of professional and workout clothes on campus helps him keep up the routine and always be prepared, he said. "I think biking is a good choice when the commuter has a safe route, a good system for managing clothes (or no need to wear professional clothes at work), and a safe, dry place to store the bike."

Julie Hardesty, IU Bloomington

The first tip from Hardesty, a metadata analyst: Review the non-road options for biking. In Bloomington, she said, the B-Line Trail was "the best thing that ever happened to my commute." Plus, it helps her avoid the morning traffic and construction. She also suggests having a riding partner, which makes it easier to stick with the cycling commute, especially in the mornings. Hardesty said that when it comes to clothes, stretchy pants that look professional enough for the office and layered shirts work in fall, winter and spring. In the summer, cropped leggings under a dress do the trick, with more rugged shoes for biking and slip-on shoes or sandals in your bag for the office. Rain pants and jacket are also helpful, as well as a backpack cover as extra rain protection, she said.

Detail of a bike path with traffic arrows painted on itView print quality image
Think about non-road commuting options. Photo by Eric Rudd, Indiana University

Kristin Londergan, IU Bloomington

While Londergan is new to IU, as the marketing and communications coordinator at the Eskenazi Museum of Art, she has biked or walked to work through the past 10 years that she's lived in Bloomington. And when it comes to carrying things -- her bike lock, lunch, purse and more -- she said fenders and a bike bag are the way to go. "I've had baskets and bulky over-the-shoulder bike bags, but I definitely prefer the bag over the back wheel to all of the above." For the summer, she recommended a small fan, rosewater spray and face wipes at your desk to cool off after the ride to work. When it's cold, Londergan said, good gloves are key, as well as an extra plastic bag to cover the seat, if the bike is parked outside.

Mitch Rice, IU Bloomington

Rice, an IT professional in the Office of the Vice President for Communications and Marketing, bikes a five-mile round trip from Park Ridge to the Bloomington campus, and he bikes all year. When it comes to biking near traffic, he said to never assume that motorists see you, and to always use hand signals when turning. Rice said that even if it's a few more blocks, it's better to use streets and routes with less traffic, plus it helps you enjoy the ride. "As kids today say, 'It's not a race, it is a journey.' Don't miss the beauty of the ride by trying to beat your best time." Plus, you won't be sweaty when you arrive at work. Speaking of riding slower, Rice said that's the best way to avoid excessive wind chill in the winter. And don't pedal hard on snow or ice, because that's how you slip, he said.

Peter J. Schubert, IUPUI

Schubert, an avid cyclist and director of the Richard G. Lugar Center for Renewable Energy, recommends not only going with the flow of traffic but making sure you stand out. "With drivers texting and applying makeup, I suggest wearing bright, contrasting colors, red lights flashing, and shiny tinsel fluttering from your handlebars." Like Londergan, he recommends bags in the back, on either side of the rear wheel. That's because backpacks throw off your center of mass, he said.

Ian Yarbrough, IU Bloomington

Yarbrough, a meter data analyst, said commuter biking doesn't require a lot of fancy or special equipment. "I think the important thing is to really love your equipment, whether it's an old beater bike or a fancy carbon commuting weapon. You're going to bike more if it makes you happy." As for how to dress, he recommends bringing lighter clothes for the ride home when the temperatures are higher. And lastly, he said, you don't have to ride daily in all conditions. "There's still tons of benefit to riding even a couple days a week."

Will you be in Bloomington for Bike to Work Day? Join the city, IU, Upland Brewing Co. and the Monroe County Public Library for a block party from 4 to 7 p.m. May 17.

To plan your route to work, visit the Bloomington/Monroe County bike map. Visit the Office of Parking Operations for more information on bicycling and other sustainable transportation options.