Looking Cool While Going Car-Free in Summer Heat

Los Angeles is heading into yet another heatwave for the next few days. For those of us who travel to work without a car, hot summer temperatures can be discouraging whether you have a 20 mile bike ride or need to walk five blocks to catch the bus. No one likes to show up to work drenched in sweat.

Some people are lucky enough to have a work environment that includes a shower, or at the very least a place to change comfortably and clean up. But what about those of us who don’t have that option? We asked our Facebook and Twitter fans, as Steve-Martin-Sweat.gifwell as Colin Bogart, Education Director at the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, for tips on how to look presentable at work after a long, hot trip, because many of us don’t want to spend the work day looking as if we’ve trekked through the rain forest to get to the office or store.

Here are some of the tips given by those who regularly bike, skate or walk to work:


If it’s possible to adjust your work hours, try to come in earlier and/or leave later so that you’re traveling during the cooler parts of the day. If you take public transit, give yourself some extra time to get to the bus stop or train station. Our bus system can be somewhat unpredictable, and there’s nothing more frustrating than looking over your shoulder and seeing your bus coming up the street earlier than scheduled when you’re still three blocks from the stop. and you have to sprint to catch it. Avoid the stress and the sweat by trying to get there 10 minutes earlier. Thankfully, the rail system runs generally as scheduled.

Planning for extra time also comes in handy when you arrive at work, as you’ll be able to clean up a bit and change clothes before the work day starts.

You also may want to consider a multi-modal trip: ride your bike, walk or skate part of the way and take a bus or train the rest of the way, especially if you can end your trip with the air conditioning a bus or train provides.



Hydration is key if you’re biking, skating or walking to work. Make sure to drink plenty of water to help you avoid heat stroke. A Facebook supporter suggests filling your water bottle a third of the way the night before, freeze it, and then add more water the next morning. Instant ice water too keep you cool on your trip!


It may seem obvious, but wear something light and breathable on the way into work and change back into it on the way home. Colin suggests biking in clothes made of sweat-wicking fabric, if possible.

As far as what you’ll wear during the work day, you can pack your work clothes, uniform, etc. in a bag to change into when you arrive at your destination or leave some extra work clothes at the office on a day when you drive or take public transit to work. What do you do if you need to wear a suit or a nice dress and you’re worried about wrinkling? Reuse a plastic bag from the dry cleaner and fold or roll your outfit against that. The plastic prevents wrinkling. If you don’t have a dry cleaner plastic bag, a large trash bag will work just as well.

A suggestion from Colin for those who normally bike with a backpack or messenger bag: look into adding a rear rack or a basket to your bike and putting your bag on that. You’ll avoid those extra damp spots on your clothes where the bag would normally sit, plus you’ll have a better weight distribution on your bike.


Most of us have the sole option of a bathroom sink - often in a public bathroom - to clean off after a hot ride or walk into work. One tip that several regular riders suggest is using baby wipes, rather than a sink sponge bath, to clean off the dirt and sweat.


cologne.gifIf all of this fails and you have to spend your day dripping with sweat, your clothes clinging to you and people staring at you, just own it.  Tell your coworkers that you are too busy improving your health, saving the environment and reclaiming city streets from cars to be bothered with caring how you look! And maybe... just maybe... spray yourself with a little perfume or cologne, to be polite...