The arrival of the spring equinox brings bicycle-riding season. In March, Toronto hosted the International Bicycle Show where bicycle lovers learned about the latest products on the market. There were over 175 exhibitors making it the world’s largest bicycle consumer show. If you plan on biking in the city this year read on for the latest tips, gear, and insights for a safe season.
Get a bike tune up
If you are a biking pro and can tune up your bike that’s great, but if not it’s important to take your bike in for a professional tune up at the start of biking season. During the tune up they will clean the chain, apply lube, adjust your brake system, possibly replace the pads, check out the cable tension, pedals, steering, and of course the wheels, to get you spinning along in no time.
Get the safety gear
Staying safe on the road includes safety gear. First and foremost make sure you have a good bike helmet. There are many styles to choose from, but most important is making sure to pick one that has the appropriate certifications usually labeled with a sticker containing CSA, EN, ASTM, CSPC, or Snell. CSPC is by far the most common today and most helmets sold in Canada will have at least one of these certifications. Once you have a protective helmet in your favourite colour and style, you should also invest in a loud bell, a good side mirror, wheel reflectors, reflective bike strips and clothing for night riding, and even headlights and taillights for visibility and to let drivers and pedestrians know where you are.
If you plan on taking your bike on road trips, depending on your vehicle, you will need a bike rack. There are several styles to choose from such as a platform hitch bike carrier or a roof mounted carrier to name a few.
Consider a bike share
Many big cities like Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa have bike share programs. In Ottawa there is a $5 dollar sign up fee and after that customers can use a bike for $2.50 each half hour. The bike is locked and unlocked with a four-digit pin and there are 28 bike rack stations with a total fleet of 300 stylish bikes with baskets. Toronto bike share members ($90 dollars a year gets you unlimited 30 minute rides) or day pass holders have access to 2,000 bikes in 200 stations.
Know the laws and your route
It’s crucial you follow the rules of the road similarly to how you would when driving a car. Know what lane to turn in, how to signal, and obey traffic lights and street signs. Check if your city has bike lane routes like this one in Toronto. Google Maps has cycling directions to help you navigate bike friendly streets and paths to keep you safe, just click on the bike icon when selecting your method of transportation.
Beware of potholes, fast opening car doors, texting pedestrians
In other words, when biking in the city there is lots to look out for. Potholes that did not exist the year before now loom in front of your tires. Also be on the look out for pedestrians that are not paying attention because they are texting and walking with their eyes glued to a screen. And of course, you don’t want to get “doored”. Take extra precautions and look ahead for cars that have just pulled into a parking spot and are about to open their door in your path. Unfortunately it is all too common for even experienced cyclists to have a car door slam into them while riding in the city.
Get a good bike lock
This should go without saying, yet every year bikes are stolen. Of course it is not the fault of the bike rider, however it’s important to do everything you can so this doesn’t happen to you. Don’t use a cable lock as they can be easily snipped. Hardened metal U-locks are an ideal way to keep your bike safe, and it’s actually recommended to use multiple smaller locks or a combination of a U-lock and a chain to secure other parts of the bike.