Biking to work is a great way save money on gas and parking, send less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and improve your personal health.
But it takes some preparation, even after you take your bike to the shop to get it tuned up for the season. So, think about what you're going to bring with you before you ride. Also, check the weather — just in case.
If it's going to rain, fenders and rain gear are a must. And if it's going to be dark at any point in your commute, you'll need lights on the front and rear of your bike; a helmet light might be a good idea, too.
Here are a few other things you may want to bring: Your helmet, sunglasses, a tire pump with a gauge, a change of shoes, your wallet, something to eat (at work, of course), a change of clothes and anything else you think is important.
And if you're wearing longer pants and you don't want to rip them, go ahead and roll up the pant leg so it doesn't catch.
Try to avoid roads that aren't bike friendly, and if you can avoid roads altogether and use a trail instead, that's awesome. But more than likely, you're going to have to share the road with cars at some point in your commute.
So, it's important to follow the rules of the road: Wear a helmet; stop at stop signs and red stop lights; signal when you're making turns; stay to the right of the road; avoid using sidewalks (especially in business districts); and on bike paths or sidewalks, alert pedestrians before passing them — it can be terrifying when a bike passes you unannounced.
Lastly, remember to use hand signals so cars know what you're planning to do. Here are the basics:
For a left hand turn, hold out your left arm. For a right hand turn, hold out your right arm. If you're stopping or slowing down, hold your left arm out to your side with your hand near your waist.
It's a lot to keep track of at first, but don't worry. It gets easier with practice, just like riding a bike.
This video includes images from Vicons Design / CC BY 3.0.