By MEG LAPPE
As a recent convert to the world of bike commuting, I realized that while you can stick with just the bare bones, your bike commute can go from doable to nearly perfect with the addition of a few key accessories. Beyond a bike and a helmet, it’s helpful and safe to have lights, a bell and a pannier. All these add-ons make commuting fast and convenient.
While there are a variety of bells, headlights and taillights that have all worked for me, I’ve had the most difficulty finding a durable pannier. It needs to clip on and off quickly as I lock my bike up outside overnight, keep my laptop safe over bumps and terrible road conditions and have plenty of storage for all of my work clothes if I bike to the gym first. Convertible backpack straps are a bonus. While some people can swing a messenger bag or backpack over their shoulders and ride, I found that I could hold much more on the bike if I just attached my bag to it — and I didn’t show up to work with a big sweat stain on my back from said bag.
This pannier and backpack comes from the Pacific Northwest, so you can bet that it’s waterproof. There’s a lifetime warranty on the Woodward, which backs up its craftsmanship (each bag is made by hand). It comes in tons of colors - each with reflective detailing so you don’t have to worry about riding at night. The internal laptop sleeve is a must-have, and the external pockets make it easy to stash your phone so you can check directions at stop lights.