Free + easy
Rosslyn is a bike commuter's dream. Make the most of it!
If you live in Arlington and your bike has been collecting dust in your garage or apartment-building storage room, we urge you to pump up your tires, oil your chain and get back in the saddle. Cycling is a healthy, green, inexpensive and efficient way to run errands or commute to work. And it makes you feel great, physically and mentally, too!
If bike commuting even remotely interests you, make a commitment to try it, even if your schedule or responsibilities only allow you to do it one day a week or one day a month. Rosslyn has incredible trail access and a terrific network of bike lanes that make it easier than ever before to get around. And Arlington was #17 in Bicycling Magazine's review of America's Best Bicycle Cities, so biking anywhere in our community is likely to be a good experience.
Here are some tips for getting started as a bike commuter, even in cold weather:
1. Make an informed decision about the feasibility of a bike commute for you based on your current fitness level.
Arlington County's extensive network of trails and protected bike lanes helps make bike commuting a safe and viable option.
We love this article from Mobility Lab that gives a good gauge of bike-commute difficulty based on distance. After you've determined if a bike commute is feasible, map out your route using resources from BikeArlington, such as their Bicycle Comfort Level Map. In Rosslyn, we are fortunate to have access to the Custis Trail, the Mount Vernon Trail, several off-street trails and a bike lane that runs all the way up Wilson Blvd. toward Ballston. So, if you're the cautious type, you need not throw yourself and your bike into busy lanes of traffic!
2. Planning is key!
This article provides good advice on preparing for your first week of daily bike commuting. Consider conducting a "dry run" of your bike commute on a day when you're not rushing into work. If you can't swing that, then try doing your first bike commute on a Friday morning, which is likely to be more low-key. Allow extra travel time in case you lose your way or hit traffic. And remember that you can take your bike on Metro trains and buses at any time of the day. So, if you decide not to ride home in the evening, you can take your bike with you on Metro or on the bus. Just respect other passengers and use good judgment.
3. Scope out the shower facilities in your building beforehand.
If they don't exist, you can always improvise with some body wipes when you arrive at work. Not ideal but it's better than nothing. Also, make sure you know where you can park your bike and invest in a good-quality U-lock (yes, they can be expensive but they last forever). Coil locks are easy to cut so we really don't recommend them.
4. Get yourself some stylin' biking clothes.
This is the fun part! It costs a bit upfront but honestly it will last you for years. As most cyclists and outdoor exercisers know, layering is key. You can bike in any weather if you dress properly. In the winter, we recommend starting with a good base layer (Merino wool is great) and then adding a long-sleeve cycling jersey or long-sleeve athletic top over that. You can also add some wind-proof cycling pants and a wind-proof jacket (get a proper cycling jacket or opt for a more flexible, lightweight down jacket like this one). Don't forget warm socks (even these inexpensive ones from Target will suffice). Finish your ensemble with some wind-proof cycling gloves. Some cyclists also like bar mitts (aka pogies) to help keep hands warm while others opt for windproof shoe covers. Other cold-weather riders swear that wrapping your toes in aluminum foil will keep them warm since foil has insulating properties. We haven't tested this out yet but are eager to give it a try next time it's really cold. Oh and finally, of course you should have a helmet and something that protects your face from the cold, like a ski mask or a balaclava.
5. Don't have your own bike? Consider getting an annual Capital Bikeshare membership.
Capital Bikeshare offers flexibility for days when you may not be able to bike in both directions or for when you need to run errands on your lunch hour. Annual memberships start at $85, but check if your company has an office rate. If so, you can get a Capital Bikeshare membership for as little as $25 a year. If your bike trip is under 30 minutes, it's free. This is a great way to inject at least a little biking into your life.
We hope these tips are helpful!
And if cold weather cycling isn't your thing, we hope you'll at least give it a shot when the weather warms up. Bike to Work Day can be a great day to start (it's May 17 this year, which is really just around the corner). What are you waiting for? Put it on the calendar! And if you have questions about bike commuting in Rosslyn, email us. We're no experts, but several of us love our bikes, commute by bike regularly and would love to help you get started! You can also reach out to BikeArlington (the real experts who can provide you with a host of resources). Happy Riding and Happy Trails to You!