A new school year has begun and it is the perfect time to make a new habit. Riding your bike to school is a great way to exercise, save money, clear your mind, reduce your carbon footprint, make new friends, and see your town from a fresh perspective.
Sometimes getting started can be overwhelming, but if you follow these tips, it won’t be.
- Before you ride to school, find the safest route to ride your bike. Bikes don’t have to follow the same route as cars. Get a local bicycle map or see alternative routes by clicking the bike icon on google maps.
- Bikes are similar to human bodies; they also have an anatomy. Knowing your bike’s anatomy can help you understand the basic ways to maintain and keep you and your bike’s wheels spinning. Before getting on your bike, perform the ABC check, Air, Breaks and C Check the tire pressure to make sure they have enough air. Squeeze the breaks to make sure they work because you want to be able to stop quickly if you need to. For “C” check that the chain is well oiled and that the cranks are tight.
- Bicyclists, just like car drivers, need to follow rules of the road. Use the bike lanes, stop at the stop signs and use hand signals for turning.
- Register your bicycle at any police station. If your bike gets stolen, you will be able to report it easily. To register your bike, you need to know your bike’s serial number. Most serial numbers are located on the underside of the bike. Use the graphic to help you locate the serial number for your bike.
- Dress for success. You only get one brain so protect your head. Wearing a helmet is cool, but brain damage is not. The law says helmets are required for people under 18, common sense makes them good for everyone. When you ride, white and reflective clothing are the easiest to see.
- Lights are also important for visibility. Install a red light on the back of your bike and a white light on the front.
- Stay hydrated. Visit your nearest store and treat yourself to a reusable water bottle instead of buying single-use plastic bottles. Reusable water bottles reduce the amount of plastic trash in the waste stream. “A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute and the number will jump another 20 percent by 2021, creating an environmental crisis some campaigners predict will be as serious as climate change.” (1)
- Lock your bike. Make sure you lock the frame and both tires to the bike rack using a cable with a combination lock or a metal U lock. If your U lock has a key, share it with someone you trust. That way you always have an extra in case you lose one.
- Bring a friend with you! Safety comes in numbers and so does fun.
- Give yourself some extra time to enjoy your town. Experiencing your community by bike is an opportunity to take in the fresh air and the scenery.
October 4th is the international Walk & Roll Day, a day when students worldwide choose walking, biking, skateboarding, or other non-car modes of transport to get to school. Every year hundreds of students participate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and earn the chance to win prizes. Walk & Roll Day is a great day to start biking! Safety is number one, but fun is always second. Be a part of something important. One less person in a car is one more person caring for the planet.
(1) Laville, Sandra, and Matthew Taylor. “A million bottles a minute: world’s plastic binge ‘as dangerous as climate change’.” The Guardian, 28 June 2017, www.theguardian.com
- Let’s ride! 10 tips to ride your bike to school - September 26, 2017
- Youth advocate for climate and community health in Sacramento - May 18, 2017