Our best tips for getting an errand done by bike instead of by car

Gas prices got you down? Are you concerned about your carbon footprint? Or are you looking for a way to get more exercise? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, consider substituting some trips by car with some by bike. 

Here are some of our favorite tips:

1. Start small. Bike to the pool, the library, a local store. To reduce stress, try to avoid rush hour.

2.  You don’t need to use the same route you would drive. Pick quieter roads or those with a shoulder or bike lane instead of Route 571 (especially east of Alexander Road). It’s OK to bike on the sidewalk when you don’t feel safe on the road. Use the WWBPA bike/walk map to help find your route.

3. How will you carry things, whether running an errand or going to work? A backpack may work for smaller items or a short distance, but it can make your back sweaty. Consider adding a front basket or rear rack and panniers (those bags that hang off the rack). Talk to a bike shop about what’s best for your bike.

4. If you’re carrying groceries, consider lining the panniers with another shopping bag in case something leaks. Be a focused shopper. Don’t buy more than you can carry!

5. Thinking of biking to work? Test out your route on the weekend when traffic is lighter. Be sure to bike in the same direction as traffic, not against traffic. If you’re unsure about bike rules, we’re here to help.

6. You don’t need to bike to work every day. One option is to drive one morning with your bike in the car, bike home that evening, bike to work the next day and return home with your car. This also makes it easy to leave a change of clothes at work.

7. Know where you can lock your bike and how to lock it smartly. You can find good how-to videos like this one online. A bike shop can help too.

8. Commuting via New Jersey Transit? Get a bike locker at the Princeton Junction station.

9. Use front and rear lights to be visible. A reflective vest is a good extra safety measure. You can buy one from the WWBPA.

10. Don’t forget your water bottle! You’ll appreciate it even on short rides. Your bike probably has a place to easily add a water bottle cage.

11.  On the Trolley Line Trail, ring your bicycle bell before heading into the curves on the section between South Mill Road and Route 571. Then someone coming in the opposite direction knows that a cyclist is approaching.

12.  Going beyond West Windsor? Google Maps has a bike-route feature (though treat its suggestions with a bit of caution). GMTMA has a county-wide online map with bike lanes (find it here).

13. However you choose to replace car trips with bike rides, practice makes it easier. Consistency will make it routine.

14.  Got questions? Stop by the WWBPA table at the WW farmers market. We’ll be there every other Saturday through Halloween.

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