There are many advantages to riding your bike to work, school, and around town – parking is free, high gas prices don’t apply, and you incorporate physical activity into your day. Here are a few things to think about before you hit the road or trail.
Prepare for the Ride
Know Your Options
- Extend your journey with transit. You can take your bike on LRT during off peak hours, and all full-sized City buses have bike racks.
Equipment to Stay Safe
- Lights, bells, and helmets can keep you and others safe on the road.
Learn about laws and safety and required equipment while riding.
- Consider the following equipment to improve visibility and safety:
- Brightly-coloured and weather specific clothing
- A flag on your trailer
- Pack or a rack
- Do not wear headphones or earbuds; hearing traffic is an essential part of safe riding.
Plan Your Trip
- Know your roles and responsibilities on the road
- Learn how to use bike infrastructure
- Familiarize yourself with laws and equipment requirements
- Plan your route by knowing bike routes and disruptions, and bike parking
Maintain Your Ride
- Check your tire pressure before you ride and top up as required
- Keep your chain well greased
- Test your brakes
- Keep your spokes, derailleur and pedals free of debris
- Layer up and be prepared for changes in weather
- See special considerations below for tips in the winter, spring, and fall
Fall Riding Tips
Adapting to the changing weather is just as important as adjusting to the changing cycling conditions.
- Stay alert - Those dry, packed trails or clean city streets that you got used to over the summer can change suddenly as the leaves drop, hiding fallen tree branches, mud holes or potholes and making corners slick.
- Check tire pressure more often - As temperatures drop so can your tire pressure. Check your tire pressure frequently and top up your tires more often.
- Tire tread for slick conditions - Consider changing your tires to ones with more robust tread, leaves create slick conditions.
- Stay dry - Consider mudguards or a fender to protect your clothes from wet conditions.
- Lighting - As the days grow shorter check your lights, give them a full charge or replace the batteries if they haven’t been used over the summer months.
- Layers - Dressing in layers is the key to staying comfortable during fall’s changeable weather.
- Gloves - Protect your hands with a pair of thin, windproof gloves. Just make sure they have plenty of grip so you are in control while steering, changing gears, or braking.
- Shoe covers - Insulate your feet from cold and the wet weather. There are a number of design possibilities - small slip-on toe covers, thin booties that cover the whole foot, and even thick insulated neoprene booties for really cold days.
- Be seen - Low visibility is an issue for cyclists as the days shorten. Wearing lighter-coloured clothing or better yet, reflective clothing or a reflective safety vest will light you up and make you more visible to drivers.
Spring Riding Tips
- Riding technique - As City crews work through their spring neighbourhood sweeping schedule, cyclists may find many gutters are still full of sand, trash, ice and gravel.
- Ride a half a car length away from the edge of the grunge. Riding over it may puncture your tires or you may skid on it while cornering.
- Avoid puddles if possible. It reduces your road traction and puddles may contain hidden pitfalls like potholes or ice. Report a pothole or call 311.
- Check tire condition - This is a good time to do a quick visual inspection of your tires
- Are there any cracks, splits or tears?
- Are the treads wearing out or uneven?
- If in doubt, it is fairly inexpensive to change a tire out instead of risking a blow-out during a ride.
- Messy streets and muddy trails
- Streets can get messy during springtime, keep your chain clean and well greased.
- Consider getting full fenders or mud guards. They are inexpensive, come in a variety of colours and styles, and are easy to install.
- Riding over muddy and wet trails can permanently damage their condition. It is best to wait until the mud firms up to avoid tearing up the trail.
- Test your brakes
- Take a spin around the block and make sure you can stop within a reasonable distance without having to pull hard on your brake levers.
- Inspect the brake pads – Are they worn or looking otherwise damaged?
- Squeeze the brake lever on your handlebars and watch the brake pads. They should be hitting the rim at the same time.
- Check the brake cable - Does it look slack? If so, adjust.
- If you do not know how to inspect and adjust braking system, have your local bike shop do it for you.
Winter Riding Tips
A little snow and cold weather doesn’t stop us from enjoying the outdoors on skates and skis. Why not bike year around as well?