More Americans are leaving behind their four-wheeled gas guzzlers to commute on bicycles, a trend fueled by environmental concerns and the rising cost of gasoline. Whether rolling along special trails, designated lanes or crowded streets, for bike commuters heading to work there's the added question of how to handle work clothes.
"You need to bring a change of clothes," says longtime bike commuter Jack Sweeney. "You get sweaty just going around the block." • Sweeney, 39, commutes from Seminole Heights to downtown Tampa, where he's a reference librarian at the John F. Germany Library. So his work attire must be professional, he says. • "There are bicycle-specific garment bags, but you can carefully pack a pannier, messenger bag or backpack," Sweeney says. "Just fold it up neatly, and it's not much of an issue." • Sweeney also suggest keeping at your desk some toiletries for freshening up, and an extra set of clothes in case it rains. • Here are a few more tips for commuters:
• Baby wipes are a quick, easy and effective way to spruce up after a ride.
• Wait until you get to work to apply makeup.
• Ask about lockers and showers in your building. You may be unaware of some available facilities, and sometimes you may need more than a simple wash-up.
• If you for whatever reason must ride in what you'll be wearing at work, choose dark apparel because it tends to camouflage sweat spots and dark stains better. There also are golf shirts and other comfortable, appropriate business-casual clothing made with lightweight wool blends or special-performance fabrics and treatments that wick moisture away from the body and allow it to evaporate.
• Wear a helmet, remembering that there are many comfortable styles that won't give you total helmet hair.
• Make sure your bike is equipped with a small tire-change kit, front and back lights, reflectors and some sort of bell. Consider lightweight fenders to keep your tires from throwing debris and mud onto your clothing.
• When possible, travel along secondary roads rather than busy main streets.
• Wear a brightly colored shirt, jacket or vest or something with reflective material or tape so that you're more easily seen by motorists.
• If you wear long pants, wrap and tie them against your legs so that they don't get dirty against the bike or caught in the spokes or chain.
• Wear clothing that's a little looser so that your body can breathe.
• Bike in sneakers or comfortable shoes with grips on the soles, and stow some work-appropriate shoes at the office.
Information from Scripps Howard News Service was used in this story.