Hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend! Now that summer has unofficially begun, the pools are open, rooftops are packed, and it seems that the D.C. heat and humidity we all know and love has arrived. While 90 degree days are great for sitting at the beach under an umbrella, it can be a bit challenging to look clean and professional after biking or walking to work. However, don’t be tempted by the air conditioning of a car, because there are many things you can do to make your commute easier and stay smell-free during the workday. Below are some general tips that I’ve gathered from different sources (including ATP staff members!) that can help you beat the heat whether you bike, walk, and/or take public transit to work.
One of the easiest ways to have a fresh start to the workday is to bring a change of clothes to put on after you arrive at work. Work clothing tends to be clingier and less breathable than exercise clothes, and isn't the best option if you plan on being outside for part of your commute. Personally, my commute involves walking, taking the bus, and riding Metro, so once it hits 80 degrees out, it’s a t-shirt and shorts all the way for me. Light-weight clothing, especially fabric that wicks away sweat, will help keep you dry while on your bike, or if you walk a long distance to work.
You can also make your trip easier by traveling lighter. Instead of carrying a shoulder tote bag that weighs a million pounds and contains everything you could possibly need for survival (like, um, me…), try a messenger bag or backpack, which puts less strain on your back and shoulders. If you ride a bike, a basket and/or panniers are great ways to travel with heavier items on your commute.
It’s also helpful to give yourself extra time to get to work. Not only will your commute be more relaxing and less stressful, you will have more time to freshen up before changing into work clothes. Many workplaces are now offering showers for bike commuters; however, if your workplace does not have them, there are things you can still do to get clean (and be a considerate coworker). Keep things like face wash, deodorant, and a towel at your desk so you are always prepared when you get to work. On really sticky days, things like baby wipes or WetOnes will help you feel cleaner, or a damp washcloth left in the refrigerator can cool you down before starting your workday.
Finally, whether you bike ten miles to work or walk down the block to the bus stop, make sure you have plenty of water available. You can either bring a reusable water bottle with you on your commute, or check out the Arlington County Bike Map to see where water fountains are located.
Hope these tips will help you get through the hot summer months! Stay cool and safe, commuters!