Happy bike to work week!
I walk. It would take me longer to bike and honour the stop signs. So, I quiz fellow staffers — Karianne, Jodi, Akua, Barry, Jeremy, Theresa, Monica and Calvin — for bike to work dos and don’ts for a safe and fun commute:
Bike to work dos
Be assertive. You’re a vehicle when you ride a bike. Take the lane. And stay at least one metre away from all parked cars to avoid being doored.
Be seen, be heard. Wear reflective clothes or tape and many lights at night; use a bell to make your intentions known.
Clean your chain. A dirty chain leads to wear and tear on the gears. A clean chain equals a smooth and enjoyable ride.
Double (or triple) your travel time. Do you ride with precious cargo? Kids are heavy. And it’s fun for them if they can get out and explore along the way!
(Tip: Use an old toothbrush and a dollop of nontoxic dish soap to remove chain gunk. Then, oil it once it’s clean.)
Ergonomics. Most bike shops can help fit your bike properly. Chances are your seat is too low. Get the biggest bang for your effort when you can extend your leg fully.
Keep your head up. Pay attention to what’s going on around you. Make eye contact with drivers, pedestrians and other cyclists.
Ride in a straight line. It’s safer and more predictable for drivers — makes it easier for them to see you. Being squeezed against parked cars? Slow down and look for heads in parked car driver’s seats. And consider switching your route to avoid contentious spots.
Ride in the rain! It always turns out better than you think. Invest in breathable rain gear.
Signal. Hand signals show intent, left and right turns, slowdowns and obstacles. Other riders and motorists will thank you.
Sing. It’s a great breathing exercise! People will hear you coming, and it’s fun! I guarantee you’ll be in a good mood when you arrive at work.
Stretch. Show some love to your quads and iliotibial bands if you ride daily.
Take your time. Enjoy the ride — it’s not a race! Hauling kids? Choose a route that will be interesting for them and make it an experience they’ll enjoy.
Use mirrors. Look for faces in car side-mirrors, or peek inside parked or stopped cars to see if they’re occupied as you approach. It will give you the time to decide whether you need to slow down, go around or stop and avoid getting doored.
Bike to work don’ts
Don’t give cyclists a bad name. Bombing through red lights and stop signs is not cool. It creates more friction between cyclist and drivers, says everyone. Blowing a red light or stop sign is behaving like a bad driver.
Don’t make it about getting from A to B. Biking should be less stressful than driving in rush-hour traffic, or standing on a crammed, hot bus.
Don’t ride on the sidewalk. It’s against the law.
Don’t take the same route you drive. Choose a cycling route that’s safe, stress-free and scenic (even if it’s longer). You’ll avoid getting to your destination with your heart in your throat and white knuckles.
Don’t use strobe lights. Fun at night clubs but annoying for other cyclists and motorists because they can be blinding.
Don’t wear black. Dark colours are hard to see, especially at night and in the rain.
And for motorists, here’s how NOT to door a cyclist:
Please check your mirror, then look over your shoulder before you open the door — especially if you’ve parked on a street with a bike lane.
What’s your bike to work tip?
Lindsay Coulter, a fellow Queen of Green