May 12 may seem like a long way away. But it’s February and the next three months will move quickly.

That’s why there’s no time likcyclists duoe the present to get started training for your commute to school, work, errands – wherever your travels will take you on Bike to Work Day 2016!

If you’re a seasoned commuter, this is also a great chance to encourage friends, family, and colleagues to come join you on the road. Getting tips from people who regularly pedal can be very helpful to beginners, those who worry about traffic, etc. Even creating a buddy system to help new riders can be very motivating – and make your own commute more enjoyable.

And if you’re a new commuter, there are things to consider long before May 12 comes around. Here are a few tips to help make your commuting fun, safe, and rewarding:

  1. Make sure your bike fits you properly. Never underestimate the importance of a proper fit. You’ll be much more comfortable and in control of your bike – and that means you’ll just want to keep pedaling! Frame size, saddle height, saddle forward/backward position, and handlebar height all play key parts in a bike fit. If you know someone who can help you with all those measurements, great. If not, visit your local bike shop for help. And get your bike tuned up while you’re there!
  2. Get comfortable riding your bike. For many new cyclists, the biggest challenge is just getting comfortable riding – not to mention riding in traffic. Start by riding on quiet streets or empty parking lots, and then test out your skills riding with car traffic. Take it slow and steady and you’ll get the hang of it easily.
  3. Remember the rules of the road. Bikes are subject to the same traffic rules as cars. That means stopping at traffic lights and stop signs, yielding to pedestrians, using “turn” signals to indicate where you’re going, etc. And be very aware of what drivers, other cyclists, and pedestrians are doing. That’ll keep you safe and make your ride lots of fun.
  4. Ride with friends and/or colleagues. One of the best ways to get comfortable riding is to pedal with others. Have friends who already ride regularly? Ask them to help you train. Have colleagues who ride to work? See if you can ride together. Your fellow riders can also teach you some of the tricks to safe, fun riding and help you build your confidence as the miles roll by.
  5. Look good while being safe. No one loves wearing a helmet, but they’re key to protecting your head if you fall. Pick one that fits snug and tightly under your chin and around your head. If fashion is important, get one that matches your bicycle for a complete outfit. Throw on a pair of gloves to protect your hands – both from the rubbing of the handlebars as well as road rash if you happen to fall. And wear shoes that have a stiff rubber sole so that your feet don’t slip off the pedals.
  6. Be safe. Even during the day, wear something bright to increase your visibility. At night, go the extra mile to make sure you can be seen from a distance. Wear a jacket or vest that has reflective tape or seams on it. Be sure to “light up” – flashers on the back, reflectors or lights in the wheels, lights on the front – so you can be seen coming and going.
  7. Carrying your stuff. There are lots of ways to carry your stuff to work. From knapsacks to rear racks to front baskets, how you carry your stuff is as individual as you are.

Remember, practice makes perfect with bike commuting, so get started today. You’ll be a regular commuting pro by the time May 12 rolls around!