So you want to bike to school. Well first, you need to Gear Up! There are a few things that are absolutely necessary for safety, and other things you may want to get for comfort.
Gear, Clothing, Safety
You don’t need much to start: a bicycle, helmet, a lock and lights for evening riding.
While you do not need special clothing to ride, there are some things you may want to keep in mind:
- If your pants have wide legs, roll up your pants or use a pant-leg band to prevent your pants from catching in the chain.
- Avoid riding while wearing long skirts or clothing with trailing/loose fabric - this will prevent clothing from being caught in the spokes.
- If you are carrying a backpack, remember to tuck in any loose straps for the same reason.
- Your body is a remarkable heat machine. It will heat up quickly after only a few minutes of riding. You may find that wearing layers that you can remove or dressing a few degrees cooler than the outside temperature will help keep you comfortable. Clothing that wicks away moisture also helps.
- Most importantly, flat-soled, closed-toed shoes will keep your feet protected.
The Active Transportation Alliance makes a great how-to guide for biking around town!
Gotta Have It: Items Necessary for Safety
If you’re going to bike to school, you need a bike! How do you find the best bike for you in your price range? Visit a bike shop! Check out the shops near UIC. You can even get a discount by presenting your I-Card. Bikes run the gamut in styles and cost. You are sure to find something that fits your needs and budget.
Protect your noggin by getting and WEARING a helmet at all times, even for short rides! For as little as $15, you will reduce the risk of a head injury by 85%.
Secure your bike each time you leave it using a U-shaped lock. It only takes a minute for thieves to steal a bike. Don’t become another statistic and purchase the most expensive lock you can afford. A lock won’t help you if you don’t use it properly so check out tips on how to properly secure your bike.
Lights are not just common sense when riding in the dark, they’re required by the law! After the sun sets, you need a front white head and rear reflector or light.
A bike bell is a necessity for communicating with other cyclists and motorists while on your way to school, and then for getting pedestrians' attention while on campus. If you don't have a bell, be prepared to use your voice to alert others that you're moving from behind them.
Wish List: Items to Increase Comfort, Convenience, Safety
Clothes made of technical material can wick away sweat for a more comfortable ride. Shorts with a chamois lining prevent chafing and keep you from getting a sore bum. Bright colors can keep you visible in low light. There are many options for bike clothing so you don’t have to dress in all spandex, unless you want to.
Bottles and cages
Staying hydrated is important, especially on warm days.
Gloves protect your hands in the event of a crash. They also provide warmth in the winter and give you a place to catch your runny nose.
Rear Rack / Panniers
If you regularly carry books, supplies, or other materials in a bag when you ride, consider getting some type of rack and panniers for the rear end of your bike.
Bonus: Cable Lock
Add a cable lock to your bike security tool kit, and you'll protect both of your wheels from theft while also adding another deterent to a would-be thief.
These shops have generously agreed to offer UIC students discounts on accessories, parts, and even whole bikes! Tell them you bike UIC and be sure to give them a hearty high five of thanks (you should have your UIC ID)!
View Bike Shops Near UIC in a larger map