Bike commuter checklist

Los Angeles is renowned for its freeways and traffic, so bike commuters are sadly an all-to-rare sight. It is really too bad since LA has such ideal weather and mostly flat terrain. But it's vast area and bike-unfriendly roads can complicate things. Luckily for me I recently moved closer to my downtown LA office, and it has opened up the possibility to bike to work.

I do not go into this office everyday, as I often have to travel elsewhere, but when I do go in I really try to ride. It is barely 4 miles. 15 minutes to work and 20 minutes back (I live up a brutal hill). While not long enough for a proper workout, it is a great opportunity to get outside and turn the pedals.

I have been a bike commuter on-and-off since high school, and even with all of these years of experience I still manage to forget stuff all the time. The simple answer? Create a checklist to run through every morning before hopping on the bike.

So what's on my list? Why, I am glad you asked. Here you go:

  • Wear
    •  Shorts
    • T-shirt (I don't wear real cycling clothing since the ride is so short)
    •  Sunglasses
    •  Helmet
    • Socks
    • Shoes

  • Bag
    • Messenger bag (backpack can be equally good)
    • Headphones (for use at work, not riding)
    • Phone
    • Lock and key
    • Belt
    • Dress socks
    • Work shirt
    • Jeans
    • ID badge for my building
    • Wallet
    • C02 inflator
    • Multi-tool
    • Laptop
    • Notebook

  • Bike
    • Road bike
    • Flat kit (spare tire, tire boot, tire levers)

You will need to adjust your checklist for your specific needs, but this is probably a good starting point for most. If you are riding at night you probably want lights on your list. I don't wear gloves since the ride is so short, and I also chose to bring my work clothes and shoes with me. People who need to wear more formal clothes to work may need a different approach.

Checklists are most useful when you physically look it over, not just by kinda-sorta memorizing the list. Airline pilots with 20,000 hours of flight time still read over the pre-landing checklist EVERY TIME they approach their destination, so it's a proven method to minimize the chance of errors. I just keep the list in my phone's notebook app and read it over before my commute. There are also snazzy checklist apps you can use, but use whatever works for you.

My days of walking through the office with no socks, no belt, and/or clack-clacking around in my bike shoes all day are over!


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