Social distancing measures are taking public transit and rideshare out of the equation for many commuters. More people are riding bikes now, and not just to work. Here’s some helpful tips for those looking to go by bike in the weeks ahead.
If your bike has been sitting dormant during the winter months or it’s been a while since you’ve taken it on a ride, take a few minutes to give it some love. Dust off the cobwebs, inflate the tires, lube the chain, even give it a ride around the block a few times to make sure everything is in working order. There’s nothing worse than waiting until that one hill in the middle of your first ride to realize your tires are half inflated and your chain won’t shift into those easy gears.
While daylight savings time and our transition into spring has blessed us with easier cycling conditions, it’s always essential to be as visible as possible to cars and other riders on the road. Bike lights are a cheap and easy tool to boost your visibility, and bright or reflective colored clothing will help, too.
Being a predictable rider is key in maintaining your safety on the road. Bike with the direction of traffic and obey all traffic laws as if you were driving a car (yes, that means even stopping at stop signs). Using hand signals to alert other riders and cars of your intentions. Clear communication on the road is paramount — the stakes are high.
While people on bikes legally have the same rights as motorists on most roadways, always be aware of your surroundings. Be cognizant of the cars, other riders and pedestrians around you, and take special care in staying out of vehicles’ blind spots. Make yourself heard when approaching or passing other riders or pedestrians with a bell or by announcing “passing on your left.” Just like driving in a car, reducing distractions and remaining constantly aware of your surroundings while riding a bike are important measures to staying safe on the road.
Know your route before you ride! One of the biggest barriers that keeps people from riding is an uneasiness or lack of knowledge of the safest routes. Use Ride Spot, a platform PeopleForBikes built to help break down these barriers, to map your entire ride turn-by-turn before even leaving your front door. Ride Spot offers great features that help you find routes that utilize protected bike lanes and other biking infrastructure to give you the safest path possible, with audio and visual cues to help you navigate your entire ride. Set the route, save the ride, and you won’t have to worry about staying on course.
Many of us are seeing more riders than ever on local lanes, paths and trails. The mental and physical benefits of riding are extra important during this stressful time. For those who must still commute, bike riding is a more appealing option than ever.
The Fine Print: While we hope that U.S. government and health officials will not need to widely restrict bicycling to counter the pandemic, we do advocate staying up to date and complying with all local rules and regulations. We are all in this together.