Be Prepared

You and Your Bike

Easy there, cowboy—it’s been a long winter. Before stepping out the door and getting in the saddle, make sure you have everything you need for a safe, successful ride.

  • The No. 1 rule: Always wear a properly fitted helmet—yes, even if you’re on a Divvy bike. Crashes happen, and helmets can reduce the risk of serious head injury in a crash.

Those old excuses about helmets being uncool or uncomfortable don’t fly either. Modern helmets come in more styles and colors than there are lipsticks in your grandma’s drawer. And your local bike shop is more than happy to help you find the perfect fit.

Other snazzy attire:

  • An ankle strap. Available at any bike shop, this small piece of Velcro will prevent your pants from getting greasy or caught in the chain. They’re also available in reflective material!
  • If your bike commute is short, work clothes may be fine for riding. If you’re commute is longer or the weather is hot, consider bringing a change of clothes. Number one rule for biking clothing—it must be comfortable.
  • A bike bag. Fill it with your ID, debit and/or credit card, U-lock (or another type of high-quality lock), cell phone with emergency contacts labeled as "ICE," work clothes or an extra outfit, an extra jacket, cell phone charger, spare tube, mini pump, patch kit, water bottle, transit fare or Ventra card and a whoopee cushion. (Maybe not that last one, we wanted to make sure you were paying attention.)

Your Bike

Your relationship with your bike should be pretty simple: Take care of it, and it will take care of you.

  • Do you know your biking ABCs? No, we’re not sending you back to kindergarten. Click here for three simple steps to ensuring your bike is safe to ride.
  • While you may not have meant to stay at the office until after dark, sometimes that big presentation just can’t wait. Make sure your bike is outfitted with lights to keep you visible to others. That means a red blinking light in back and white light in front.
  • Speaking of that big presentation: You don’t want to miss it because of a flat tire. Carry a spare tube, mini pump and patch kit with you, just in case.

Plan Your Route

The roads you take to work on public transit or in your car may not be the same ones you’ll use during the Bike to Work Challenge. (Please don’t try to bike on the Bishop Ford.) Check out our Everyday Biking Guide for more tips! While the Challenge doesn’t start until June 15, it’s never too early to map out your route.

  • The Chicago Bike Map is your guide to the closest bike lanes and recommended streets for cycling.
  • Plan your route online with a multimodal trip planner, like Google maps
  • Normally a suburban road warrior? You get an extra high-five for joining the challenge! Read up on the CTA's Bike & Ride Program and Metra’s bike policies.
  • Try your route on a weekend trial run. You won’t be stressed about making it to work on time, and it gives you a chance to spot any bumps (both literal and figurative) in your plan.
  • Your mom wasn’t kidding: There is safety in numbers. Riding with a friend gives you an extra set of eyes, and helps pass the time. Check with your Team Leader for other members who may be near your route, or check out your friendly local cycling community.

Maps & Schedules:

Google Maps Bike Route
Chicagoland Bike Map
Trails and Zone Maps
RTA Trip Planner
CTA Bike and Ride Brochure
Metra Maps and Schedules

Rules of the Road

You know those bikers who think they’re the only person on the road and weave in and out of traffic? Yeah. Don’t be that guy.

Cars, buses and trucks
Many laws protecting cyclists are on the books, including city ordinances. But remember that no matter what, you and your bike are more vulnerable than even the smallest car, so stay alert. Click here for help if you are involved in a crash while biking.

Other bikes
While it might be tempting to buzz through intersections like a bike messenger, your goal is to arrive at work safely. If you do need to pass a slow rider, signal your intentions by announcing, “On your left!” and check for traffic before passing.

Pedestrians
Pedestrians have the ultimate right of way. Yield to them in crosswalks, and follow the same traffic signals as cars. Unless you’re under 12, you’re not allowed to ride on the sidewalk. (And if you’re under 12 and signed up for this challenge, we need to talk labor laws.)

Read our Everyday Biking guide
Do you know about the door zone, how to properly fit a bike and good bike locking techniques? No? Well, then you need to read our guide called Everyday Biking. It’s short and informative, and you can download it for free.