Commuting 101: Bike To Work Day checklist

For those deciding at the last minute to bike to work on Bike To Work Day, here’s a handy dandy checklist of things to have and do. I recommend getting this stuff together the night before you ride.

  • Check weather forecast.
  • The bike:
    • Tires inflated.
    • Saddle adjusted.
    • Brakes adjusted and operating.
    • Gears adjusted.
    • Chain lubricated.
    • Lights work; batteries charged.
    • Flat repair:
      • Spare tube and/or patch kit.
      • Tire levers.
      • Pump or CO2.
  • Clothing:
    • Under five miles or so, nothing special is really needed.
    • For longer distances, bike shorts are nice to have.
    • Rain gear if necessary.
    • Safety gear: Gloves, eye protection, helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, etc.
  • Backpack or some other way to carry “stuff.” Contents may include:
    • Bike lock if necessary.
    • Cash for emergency public transportation fare.
    • Transit passes.
    • Clothing & shoes for the office.
    • Personal hygiene items:
      • Towel & washcloth.
      • Soap.
      • Shampoo.
      • Hair care items.
      • Deodorant.
    • Lunch.
    • Wallet.
    • Office badge and keys.
    • House keys.
    • Cell phone, camera, whatever other gadgets you like to carry.

This is a fairly minimal list. You can go crazy and do much more, but this is generally about what most bike commuters should need.

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0 thoughts on “Commuting 101: Bike To Work Day checklist”

  1. Knee pads and elbow pads for bicycle commuting? Really?

    You left off one of the most important safety features for cycling: (sun)glasses. Something to block the wind and debris that can fly in your eye is more more important than gloves in my experience.

  2. mark says:


    A u-lock or a cable or chain and padlock. If you have to park your bike in a high-theft area, both. (Helps to know how to lock, too – it’s amazing how many bikes you see stripped bare.)

    Headlight, taillight. Check that they’re working before you leave.

    An assortment of allen keys to fit your stem, racks, seatpost binder bolt, etc.

    Rain gear…

  3. Noah says:

    When I did the full-distance commute in to work (22 miles one way), and it was below 50 degrees in the morning and above 70 in the evening, I had to carry a ridiculous amount of stuff, both on me and in my panniers. I already carry my MacBook, cell phone, digital camera, wallet, bike lock, flat repair (spare tube, co2, levers, multi-tool) and business casual shirt with me. Added to that, I had to carry more water than usual, a different set of clothes for the warmer ride home, and a waterproof jacket in case of rain. I’m glad I picked up panniers this week instead of relying on my backpack.

    I usually keep a few pairs of dress slacks at the office, and rotate through them throughout the week. I take them home on Friday and wash them. My dress shoes stay locked up in my filing cabinet.

  4. Fritz says:

    I was riding to San Jose last night when the thought about the lock hit me; doh! Thanks for the reminder about the eye protection also. I rarely think about since I’ve been wearing prescription specs since I was 12 years old.

    I’ll update the checklist with those items.

  5. Fritz says:

    I forgot to mention about the elbow and knee pads: I saw a hilarous bike safety video from the Singapore Police. Beyond helmets, essential safety gear includes elbow and knee pads. They also tell cyclists to WALK across every intersection in the crosswalk (after looking in every direction for oncoming traffic), to hug the gutter, and other stuff that favors motorists in every way over any other mode of travel.

    One of my Chinese neighbors has a son — they do not allow him to ride his bike without the pads, and so of course he never rides his bike. Poor kid.

  6. Mark says:

    To save weight, I leave toiletries (shampoo, soap, comb, deodorant, shower shoes) in a gym bag at work. Leave two pairs of appropriate shoes and two belts (brown and black) in the cube. That eliminates the bulk of the weight. Lacking a good place to hang ironed slacks at work, carry the day’s outfit in a special suit-bag pannier, along with a towel and washcloth. On those spring and autumn days with chilly mornings, also bring bike shorts and jersey for the afternoon trip. A couple of large zip-loc storage bags carry the damp towel, wash cloth, and any wet clothing from the morning run.

  7. Diego says:

    Although my commute is 7.5 miles each way, I need an extra shirt for the ride home, so I usually pack an extra riding-bike. I also carry sandals in case I need to “walk” the bike with a flat or other issue; doing it with cleats can take forever and damage the cleats (in case you use them).

  8. Brian says:

    Brakeless for life!

  9. Mike says:

    “Check weather forecast.”

    The most overlooked and important one! Nothing’s worse than that realization when you see dark clouds rolling in and you have to ride home on your bicycle in an hour…

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