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Bike Back to School Checklist

Yorktown Cycles' Bike Back to School Checklist

It's that time of year - the air is filled with the scent of freshly sharpened pencils. At Yorktown Cycles we've got everything you need for heading back to school - by bike. From helmets, bells and lights to packs, racks and water bottles, we'll make sure you head back to the classroom safely and in style. At Yorktown Cycles we're all about encouraging commuting by two wheels instead of four, and our staff loves to share tips and experiences!

Not sure exactly what you need for your commute to school (or work!) - read on over for an exhaustive list!

Bike to School Checklist

Note: This list is intentionally extensive. Not every student will bring every item on every ride.

Step 1: The Two Essentials

  • Bike
  • Helmet

Step 2: Primary Options

(Base choices on individual needs and preferences)

Key transit items

  • Water (in bottles or hydration pack)
  • Eye protection (sunglasses or clear lenses)
  • Street map
  • Lock
  • Medical info/emergency contact card
  • First aid items

Core bike repair items

  • Spare tube or tubes (and/or patch kit)
  • Pump or CO2 inflator (with cartridge)
  • Tire levers
  • Multi Tool
  • Saddlebag to hold tools and spare tubes etc.
  • Bell
  • Mirror
  • Headlight


  • Taillight with blinking option

Storage/equipment options

  • Backpack, hydration pack or messenger (sling) bag
  • Handlebar bag
  • Cargo rack
  • Panniers


  • Rack straps or bungee cords

Step 2: Primary Options (cont.)

Clothing options for variable weather

  • Rainwear or stowaway windbreaker
  • Insulation layer for cool air
  • Leg bands
  • Shoe covers
  • Visibility vest
  • Gloves
  • Cycling socks
  • Skullcap or headband
  • Padded shorts or tights
  • Wicking jersey or top
  • Gloves Cycling socks
  • Skullcap or headband


  • Chamois cream/skin lotion
  • Sunscreen


Step 3: Post-Ride Items

(Carry with you, or store in advance at destination)

  • Change of clothing
  • Off-bike footwear options
  • Toiletry kit
  • Towel/washcloth
  • Small, quick-dry towel (for cleanups)
  • Baby wipes (popular for cleanups)


Step 4: Other Possibilities

  • First-aid items
  • Lip balm
  • Cell phone
  • Cash/credit card/ID
  • Energy food/gels/drinks
  • Strips of duct tape (for repairs)


Busting Bike to Work Myths

Yorktown Cycles Busting Bike to Work Myths

Call them myths or call them excuses, we all have a list of reasons why biking to work can't possibly work in our situation. But in honor of Bike to Work month, we're here to bust 8 of those most common myths, and get rid of the excuses. We want to help show you that even YOU can make biking to work a regular habit.

Myth #1: It's not safe

One of the first concerns that is often mentioned about biking to work is the safety. It's true, biking does come with some risk, but so does every other method of commuting to work from driving to walking to taking the bus. It's true that according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2013 there were 743 cyclists killed and an estimated 48,000 injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes, which account for two percent of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities and injuries in the US. This might seem like an alarming number until you realize that in the same year there were 4,735 pedestrians killed, which amounted to 14 percent of the total motor vehicle crashes. The vast majority of fatalities and injuries comes to drivers themselves.

The good news is that as cycling grows in popularity, there are more and more dedicated bike lanes and bike paths, as well as awareness of cyclists on the road. You can make your commute safer by following the rules of the road, wearing your helmet, and always using lights, reflectors, and brightly colored clothing to make sure you're seen.

Myth #2: You need a certain bike

Many different bikes can serve as commuters - from a hand me down mountain to a craigslist special, it doesn't take much to start commuting. Different bikes do present different advantages (and disadvantages), though, so if you're looking for a dedicated commuter, stop in and let us help you guide you through the choices.

Myth #3: You'll need to wear special clothes to commute by bike

The growth of the bike industry, as well as commuting, means the clothing options have vastly expanded. You can now apparel that is not only comfortable and practical for the bike, but will also look great in the office. Even traditional jeans can be sturdy enough with enough stretch for biking. Come on in to check out flexibly cycling apparel - it goes far beyond spandex now!

Myth #4: Commuting is all or nothing - and I can't do all

Biking to work does not have to be all or nothing. Just choosing to commute by bike one or two days a week can have a huge impact on your health and the environment. Think you live too far from work to bike there? Try combining biking with public transit - ride your bike to a train station or bus stop, or take a bus from home part of the way with your bike and then ride the rest of the way.

Myth #5: It's much quicker to drive

Hello rush hour traffic. You know those long lines of cars you get stuck parked in? Wouldn't you rather ride on past them? In many cities, it actually can be faster to go by bike due to traffic and congestion during the commuting hours. Still not convinced? Just consider the fact that you're killing two birds with one stone - you're saving time you'd need to spend in the gym later by hopping on your bike.

Myth #6: You won't be able to carry everything you need

There are plenty of options these days for transporting your stuff on your bike, from backpacks to messenger bags to panniers to baskets to seat bags...there's a never ending list of solutions we have right in our shop. We'd love to give you a tour of all of the advances in recent years entirely devoted to busting this myth.

Myth #7: Too much sweat

Ok, this myth is one that is hard to prove false. It is true that particularly during some times of the year, biking to work is going to result in sweat. However, there are solutions. Does your workplace offer a shower? Or is there a gym nearby with showers available to use for a small fee? For many people, a few wipes or wet towel and a change of clothes is all they need to freshen up for the day.

Myth #8: You can't ride in the (fill in the blank)

Whether it's the dark, or the rain, or the cold, or the heat, we all have a condition we love to throw at the end of that sentence. However, most of these conditions can be ridden in with the right tools. Be it the right clothing, the right tires, the right lights, or the right accessories, most of these conditions can be quite easily overcome. Got one you think will leave us stumped? We challenge you to come on in and see if we can't find a solution for you.

Bike to work - safely!

How to bike safely to work

It's bike to work month and you decided that finally this year is the year you're going to participate. You've got your bike, you've got your helmet, you've got a pack for all your work gear and a change of clothes, you've got your lock - you're ready to go, right? Not so fast! Before you join the morning commute on two wheels, make sure to familiarize yourself with eight of the most common types of collisions - and how to avoid them. Then you can hop on that bike with confidence that your commute will end exactly where it's supposed to - the front door of your workplace, as opposed to the ER.


#1 The Right Cross

This is the most common way to get hit. Cars coming from a side street, parking lot or driveway on the right - right into your path. 

How to avoid this collision:

  • Get a headlight.  If riding at night, this should be obvious, but even during the day, a flashing strobe can be somewhat seen from a side angle.
  • Slow down or Yield.  If you can't make eye contact with the driver (especially at night), slow down so much that you're able to completely stop if you have to.  Depending on how the intersection is marked, the driver on the right may have the right of way anyway.
  • Ride further left.  Riding in the "A" lane in the picture, very close to the curb, is normal practice to not block traffic and may be the designated bike lane.  Riding a bit to the left, (B lane) puts you where cross-traffic drivers are normally looking for cars and may let other drivers have a less-obstructed view of you.


#2 The Door Prize

A driver opens his door right in front of a cyclist who can’t stop in time.  This kind of crash is more common than you might think:  It's the second-most common car-bike collision.

How to avoid this collision:

  • Ride to the left. Ride far enough to the left that you won't run into any door that's opened unexpectedly. You're more likely to get doored by a parked car if you ride too close to it than you are to get hit from behind by a car which can see you clearly farther out into the lane.
  • Scan parked cars for heads.  If you see a parked car with someone IN it, it is far more likely that a door may open as they exit.


#3 The Crosswalk Slam

You're riding on the sidewalk, you cross the street at a crosswalk, and a car makes a right turn into you. 

How to avoid this collision:

  • Use a headlight. If you're riding at night, a headlight is absolutely essential. During daylight, it may be just the added bit of visibility you need for drivers.
  • Slow down. Slow down enough that you're able to stop completely if necessary.  Even if a driver had looked, blazing through a crosswalk can catch them by surprise.
  • Don't assume the right of way.  The light and the law may be in your favor, but never assume that approaching or turning drivers recognize those two facts.


#4 The wrong way wreck

When riding the wrong way, against traffic, a car makes a right turn from a side street, driveway, or parking lot, right into you.

How to avoid this collision:

  • Don't ride against traffic. Ride with traffic, in the same direction.  Other cars (or cyclists and pedestrians) are not expecting you to come from that direction and may not look.  It’s against the law for a reason.


#5 The red light

You stop to the right of a car that's already waiting at a red light or stop sign. They can't see you. When the light turns green, you move forward, and then they turn right, right into you. 

How to avoid this collision:

  • Don't stop in the blind spot. Simply stop behind a car, instead of to the right of it. This makes you very visible to traffic on all sides.
  • Check for signals as you stop.  Not that every driver uses their signals 100% of the time, but if there IS a signal light on, you will know the driver plans to turn right.


#6 The right hook

A car passes you and then tries to make a right turn directly in front of you. They think you're not going very fast just because you're on a bicycle, so it never occurs to them that they can't pass you in time.

How to avoid this collision:

  • Don't ride on the sidewalk. When you come off the sidewalk to cross the street you're invisible to motorists.
  • Use your rightful space in the lane. Taking up the whole lane makes you more visible, as well as harder for drivers to pass you and cut you off or turn into you.  This type of collision can only happen if you let a driver get beside you.  Don’t.


#7 The left Cross

A car coming towards you makes a left turn right in front of you. This is similar to #1, above. 

How to avoid this collision:

  • Don't ride on the sidewalk. When you come off the sidewalk to cross the street, you're invisible to turning motorists.  Additionally, motorists are not expecting anyone moving faster than walking speed coming into the crosswalk and they may think they have time to get through.
  • Get a headlight. If you're riding at night this is obvious, but good lights add daytime visibility, too.
  • Wear bright clothing. Bikes are small and easy to see through even during the day. Yellow or orange reflective vests really make a big difference.
  • Don't pass on the right. Don't overtake slow-moving vehicles on the right. Doing so makes you invisible to left-turning motorists at intersections. It can be tough when the far right is the customary bike lane.  Exercise caution when bike lane visibility is blocked by traffic stopped in the regular lane of traffic.


#8 Where’d he come from?

You innocently move a little to the left to go around a parked car or some other obstruction in the road and get hit from behind.

How to avoid this collision:

  • Look behind you first. Some motorists pass cyclists within mere inches, so moving even a tiny bit to the left unexpectedly could put you in the path of a car. Practice holding a straight line while looking over your shoulder until you can do it perfectly. Though not a perfect substitute for a head-check, a glance in a mirror will help you monitor traffic to the rear, as well.
  • Don't swerve in and out of the parking lane if it contains any parked cars. You might be tempted to ride in the parking lane where there are no parked cars, dipping back into the traffic lane when you encounter a parked car.  Don’t.  HOLD your place in the lane as if there were parked cars along the curb.
  • Signal. Never move left without signaling. Just put your left arm straight out. Check your mirror or look behind you before signaling.  Every hint or clue you can give a driver approaching from behind will help you from being hit.