Thursday, May 1, 2014

Spring into Gear: Tips for New Bike Commuters

Today marks the first day of national Bike Month and now is a great time to pull your bicycle out of the garage and give biking to work or school a try.  Biking is a great way to avoid traffic stress and the costs of driving.  It’s also a great way to combine your commute with your workout!

For a new bike commuter, here are just a few tips to help you get started:

1.    Plan your route in advance. Usually there are several ways to get from your house to the office. Consider taking the easiest route with the least amount of traffic even if it is longer.  
    • Download the newly updated Snohomish County Bike Map to find bike friendly routes from your home or work.
    • Visit Google Maps biking feature to input your starting point and destination and get suggested routes.
2.    Try a practice run on the weekend and pay attention to how much time it takes so you can avoid being late to work.

3.    Know the proper turn signals so that you can alert drivers, pedestrians and other bikers of your actions:
    • Right turn signal - either hold your right arm out, or hold your left arm up, with bent elbow. You don’t have to keep your arm out through the turn – you may need both hands on the handlebars to keep control of your bicycle.
    • Left turn signal - left hand straight out
    • Brake signal - left hand pointed down bend at the elbow at a 45 degree angle
4.    Get a light.  A simple headlight or flashing light on your bike or person can make you more visible to drivers.  Bike lights can be purchased at most bicycle shops and sports stores for as little as $5.

5.    Wear a helmet.  Not only is it the law in Washington State, but a helmet can protect you if something unexpected happens.

6.    Be prepared for weather.  Be sure to check out the forecast before you leave the house and make sure you have the right gear with you including sunglasses (hopefully!), rain gear or gloves.

7.    Bring in clothes, lunches and other items you need to bring from home to work for the week in on the weekend so you don’t have to worry about them on your ride.  If you need to bring items with you each day, consider purchasing a bike bag or rack which can be purchased at most bicycle shops and sport stores.

8.    Find out ahead of time where you can park your bike at your workplace and where you can store any bike gear.

9.    Keep up on bike maintenance and cleaning for a smoother ride and to make sure you catch any problems early.

10.  Remember, if you have a long commute to work you don’t have to bike the whole way.  Check out if there are transit routes that can get you near work or home and you can bike the rest of the way.  All regional buses and trains are equipped with bike racks and many transit centers and park & rides have bike lockers or racks for you to park your bike.
    • Visit our website for more information on biking and busing.

Community Transit is supporting bike activities all month long throughout Snohomish County. To learn more about Bike Month events and resources, visit our Bike Month webpage.  


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