How to Plan Your Cycling Route to Work
Planning your route should be your priority if you’re thinking of commuting to work on your bicycle. Your route plan can make or break your riding experience–your daily commute could either be super stress-free or total chaos. However, it’s easier said than done, especially if it’s your first time planning a bicycle route.
This blog is for first-time bicycle commuters. Here’s our quick guide on planning a daily cycling route to your work.
Why plan a cycling route?
There are many reasons you should plan a cycling route instead of just sticking with a standard car route. Here are some of the benefits of a well-planned cycling route.
a. Get to your workplace on time
Getting to your workplace on time is one of the primary reasons why people refrain from cycling to work. People assume that using their cars or trains is much faster than cycling.
The truth is a well-planned cycling route can even double your commuting time via car or train. Note that, unlike cars, bicycles can pass through tunnels, narrow alleys, and other pathways that may be able to get to your work faster. Not to mention, trains would have to go through all major city places before bringing you to the station closer to your workplace.
And most importantly, cycling can help you prevent heavy traffic. Nowadays, almost all roads experience bumper-to-bumper traffic during rush hours. Cycling can help you save time by easing through this kind of traffic. While your workmates are stuck behind their wheels cursing the road, you’re already at your workplace, making yourself hot cocoa!
b. Staying safe
Unfortunately, we have to admit that city cycling can still be dangerous. According to recent studies, over 2,000 cyclists die in road accidents yearly.
One of the most important benefits of a well-planned cycling route is to ensure a safe riding experience. If you’re still unconfident about riding through larger vehicles, find a route with designated cycling routes. It’s also best to look for well-paved roads, as a single pothole or uneven footing can cause you to lose balance.
Aside from planning a route, using appropriate cycling accessories can also ensure your safety on the road. Lack of visibility is still the number one cause of cycling-related accidents, so it’s best to secure a great pair of front lights and taillight if you’re considering commuting to work.
c. Prevent violations
Cyclists are not exempted from receiving tickets or getting fined for violating traffic regulations. A cycling route will ensure that you only ride where cycling is permitted. There are some roads and pathways where cycling is not allowed as it may pose a great risk to you. This includes areas heavily populated by trucks, buses, and other oversized vehicles.
Aside from this, major roads also require certain cycling accessories, such as reflectors and bike lights. Some have a strict “cycling lanes only” policy which you should follow. A well-planned cycling route will help you follow these road regulations to avoid violations.
d. Stay presentable upon arriving at your workplace
Lastly, another common reason people refrain from cycling to work is that they may no longer look presentable upon arriving at their workplace. Cycling exposes you to air pollution on the road and makes you sweat.
As we mentioned earlier, this may be true for those who would not plan their cycling route. Sticking with roads used by cars and other vehicles might bring you to steep roads, which cars can easily go through but would require so much effort for cyclists. You would also need to ride directly between cars emitting smoke and dust that would truly affect your appearance when you get to work.
With a well-planned cycling route, you can go through roads with less inclination, requiring less force. You could also go through cycling areas which may be separated from regular roads, making you less exposed to pollution.
Some cyclists also opt to shower at their workplace upon arrival. This would automatically mean that they need to commute earlier than usual.
What do you need to plan a cycling route?
Here are the items that could help you create the best cycling route for your daily commute to work.
a. GPS tracker
While you can memorize or use a traditional pen and paper to record your route, a GPS tracker is helpful. This will prevent you from mixing up the route you’d be taking, which may not just cost you so much time in re-doing but could also be unsafe.
Modern GPS trackers would not just allow you to record the roads, alleys, and other pathways you’d be going through, but they could also provide substantial data to help you determine if it’s the optimal route for you. Go for a GPS tracker with Detailed Tracking that can visually record the path you’ll be taking. Aside from this, look for a Climbing Ascent feature to assess how much power you’d need to go through a particular road. It would also be best.
b. Navigation Map
When exploring pathways for your cycling route, Google Maps provide a decent cyclist navigation route guide which can be a great start when planning your route. However, you’d need a consistent data connection when using it, which may be tricky when you’re already cross-referencing your options. There may be some alleyways that would cause poor data connection.
To resolve this, it’s best to use a smartphone cycling app with offline connection mode. This will allow you to go through your intended route despite having a poor internet connection. Speaking of which, it’s also best to go for a GPS tracker with multiple connection options, such as Bluetooth, to ensure optimal use throughout your route.
Lastly, you’d need your phone’s notepad or a traditional notepad to record the road regulations in your path that may not be present on your navigation map. This way, you can prepare the optimal riding strategy and get the required cycling accessories should you include this specific path on your daily cycling route.
How to plan a cycling route?
Now that you know the importance of creating a cycling route for your daily commute and the tools and accessories you need, it’s time to start planning!
a. Visualize your routes
First, visualize your initial route through your desktop. This will allow you to get an optimal view of your options.
Here are the steps for visualizing your routes through Google Maps.
1. Set your starting point.
2. Click “Directions” and choose your destination. In this case, your place.
3. The initial traveling route would be by car, so make sure to choose the “Cycling Mode.”
4. Analyze your pathway
The Google Map desktop view also provides more details than their mobile version, which you might need when cross-referencing your routes.
b. Cross-reference your routes
The initial cross-referencing through Google Maps may just include a few clicks, but it’s much harder than you think. Here’s how to do it.
1. Research the most popular route to your workplace.
2. Take note of the waypoints along the route
3. Replace the “Destination” in your Google Maps and manually include waypoints indicated on your selected route.
4. Place your starting point as your final destination to create a loop.
5. Analyze the route and see if there are some waypoints you can replace with better routes.
There are many ways to find the most popular route to your workplace. You can search for it online or even ask your colleagues. But remember, you’re looking for the most popular route, NOT because you’d have to follow it, but because it’s a good base point for modifications in creating the best route for you.
c. When conflicted, go through each pathway
When you’re done with cross-referencing your routes online but are still conflicted with certain waypoints, it’s best to go through each pathway. This way, you could see possible riding inconveniences which you can’t see on Google Maps.
Remember that you might need to go through unfamiliar paths when cross-referencing your routes. To ensure safety, have a GPS tracker with an excellent location-sharing feature.
d. Go through your Top 3 routes in a week
Now that you’ve already cross-referenced possible waypoints throughout your route, it’s time for cross-referencing the entire route.
It’s highly suggested that you go through your Top 3 routes. This may take some time, but it can ensure that you choose the best route for your daily commute.
In going through your routes, make sure to record the following:
- The time it took you to get to your workplace from your home;
- Your exposure to heavy traffic; and
- The number of good cycling lanes you were able to go through.
These three factors can determine the convenience and safety each route could give you. Even though one route could give you the fastest commuting time, if it will require you to go through uneven roads and expose you to heavy traffic, it may not be worth it. Aside from the fact that they make you susceptible to more accidents, you might arrive at your workplace completely disoriented and haggard-looking when you take this route every day.
e. Be open to exploring alternative paths
Changes may happen along your route every once in a while, so make sure you’re open to exploring alternative paths. A path may serve you for half a year, but it may get certain changes that may no longer keep you safe or may no longer give you the optimal riding experience. Should this happen, it’s best to look for alternative pathways and update your cycling route.
f. Consult with other cyclists
If it’s your first time commuting to work through cycling, make sure that you consult other cyclists who have been doing this for quite a while now. Even though you’re used to country rides, city rides, especially on a schedule, can be really challenging.
Other cyclists may help you determine the best pathways around your city, places you might want to avoid, riding techniques you’d want to keep in mind, and cycling accessories you’d need. All of these will ensure that you get nothing but a hassle-free daily commute to work.
g. Listen to your body
Lastly, listen to your body when selecting the best route for your daily commute. If a route could get you to your destination faster but would require you to max out your energy for the day, it’s best to find an alternative path. Remember that you still have a full day of tasks in your workplace.
Most importantly, make sure that your body is ready for daily cycling. If you feel like overexerting yourself when you cycle to work, it’s best to train first, as you’d need stamina and cardiovascular strength to cycle every day.
Save money and time through cycling to work this 2023.
Cycling has loads of benefits for your body, mind, and even your pockets. So, if you’re looking for a way to improve your everyday routine, try cycling to work. But remember, it would only be safe and fun if you do all the preparation you need, such as planning your route, before you commute everyday cycling.