Urban cyclist - Commuting

Intro - I am guitarman in IRC, got the nick from a Jerry Reid song which Elvis borrowed - just liked the lyrics
and the performance.  

Not a health Nut, Nor an Expert on bike repair but do cycle every day and have for over 2.5 years.

Why would you want to commute via bicycle
1. save money
2. physical fitness ( i sit at a desk all day and have kids - not much time for exercise)
3. carbon footprint
4. not stuck in a closed space with a bunch of strangers (bus , subway)

Why wouldn't you want to commute:
 -You could get injured or run over
 -Effects of inhaling all that car exhaust
- Weather isn't always on your side

My commute 1 way is 13km roughly over 8 miles... in a day I ride 26km or 16 miles.

So you are thinking about commuting - your first question would be: 
Is it feasible to commute to your workplace.
 -Is it a doable distance
 -Are there suitable routes
 -If the distance is too great, can you augment part of your trip on transit
 -Is there a safe place to store your bike when you arrive at work

So lets suppose that one is addressed by googling and what not.  Whats next?

Make sure you have a bike that is in decent working order.
 -Get a tune up for it if not.  
 -Your break pads should have pad still, gears should shift smooth and not fall out, tire pressure up to what
  is listed on tire, seat and handlebars raised to your height - bike shop can set this up for you - part of 
  some tuneups - fitting it to you. 

Other things you will need:
 -Helmet
 -A bike lock or 2
 -Brightly coloured clothing
 -If you ride almost all weather, waterproof boots, coat, pants, gloves
 -Lights on your bike for rainy/snowy weather or night rides.

Things to have in your backpack:
 -Energy snacks - nut mix - when you didn't eat enough before leaving work
 -Water if the trip is long - especially pack it if you are starting out and its a big ride.
 -A replacement tube, perhaps 2, a wrench that fits if its that kind of wheel (if quick release ignore)  
 -A hand sized bicycle pump
 -A patch kit

Riding Tips:

 -I would not recommended you lock up downtown in a area that isn't busy
 -Never lock to a pole or a weak structure
 -Drivers often can't see you or aren't used to looking for cyclists - ride with that in mind
 -Be careful when riding by parked cars - riding too close you can get 'doored'
 -Drivers often aren't clear on rules of the road - right turns in front of you when you are in the bike lane 
  etc. Education needed on both parts. 
 -Do follow rules of road - don't give your fellow cyclist a bad name. Stop or at the very least slow down
  considerably at stop signs, be mindful of pedestrians.
 -Also don't be afraid to take the lane up - its yours just as much as the cars, like it or not for drivers.


Troubleshooting:
Most common problems en route:
 -Chain falls off - most people know this one - assess and get your hands dirty if need be.
 -If you get a flat - investigate the cause before just changing the tire.
   -Main Causes of Flats:
    --Glass or something else poking in tire and to the tube (sometimes hidden in treads)
    --Liner is not blocking screw from rim
    --This one hasn't happened to me but a spoke poking through the rim.

Weather tips:
 -Rainy weather - sometimes only rubber boots are going to protect you.  Have a change of shoes at the
  workplace and also a change of clothes.

Hygiene tips:
 -Do have a shower if your office has one, or at the very least bring a towel and some shower gel and do a
  quick spiffy up.
 -Change of clothes


Closing:
Commuting via bicycle is a way you can save money, get exercise, and limit the carbon footprint.
Depending on the life you lead and the kind of work and distance of work, it might be something you could try
and who knows you might like it.