1. Bike Lanes: Get to know where your city's bike lanes are for a safer ride. Places like Seattle offer Bike Maps to help you navigate. The SDOT's interactive map even offers different maps for different levels of comfort (Frequent Rider, Average Rider, and Occasional Rider).
2. Traffic Levels: If you already drive to work, you probably have a good sense of where the bad traffic is. Bikes can take different routes than cars to avoid bad traffic. In some cases, you may end up with longer commutes to avoid high traffic areas, but other times choosing low traffic or bike only routes can cut down on commute time.
3. Terrain: Seattle is well known for its hilly terrain, so if you're planning to commute in the city or in another hilly area, get to know where the toughest hills are and whether they have safe spots for you to stop if necessary. Depending on the length of your commute, you may way to avoid steep hills towards the end of your trip if you are getting tired.
4. Hazards: Well maintained, paved roads are best for bike commuters. Poor road quality will not only make commuting difficult, but can also be harder on the bike itself. Know where rail road tracks, storm drains, etc are so you can plan to avoid or safely cross them.
5. Lighting: Try to ride on roads that are well lit, so you can see where you're going and drivers can see you. Wear bright clothing to increase visibility. If you have to ride on dimly lit or unlit roads, it's a good idea to invest in lights for your bike. Light & Motion sells great head lights and rear lights for commuters that will make you visible to cars from all sides. This is especially important when weather is bad or when it starts getting dark earlier.
6. Test Ride: To reduce the pressure to arrive on time on your first attempt, do a test ride on a day you aren't working to get a sense of the route and timing.
7. Electrify: Consider cutting your time by 50 to 70 percent by going Electric Assist. If you pedal with the same effort you currently do, your speed will double on the flats, and increase 2 to 5 fold on hills, depending how steep they are. Depending on your riding level, E-Bikes can make a 7 mile Seattle commute in 20 minutes, which is comparable to a car. Some go 18 miles each way in under an hour.