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Get road-ready: 10 steps to a better bike ride


On your mark, get set, pedal! Riding a bike is a great workout for your heart and lungs. It’s a fun way to explore your community. And if you bike to work or school, it can save you money and a stressful commute—all while helping the environment too.

If you haven’t hopped on a bike since it had a banana seat and streamers, don’t be daunted. Now is a great time to rediscover this fun, healthy way to get around. And these 10 tips can help you get you ready to roll safely.

Bike safety basics for beginners

1. Check out your ride. If your bike has been gathering dust for a while, have it looked over by a bike shop before you head out. And brush up on how to repair a flat, fix a chain, and spot wear and tear on the brake pads.

2. Wear comfortable cycling gear. Everyday clothes work fine for short rides. On longtrips, cycling shorts offer I-can-keep-going cushioning. And biking gloves can helpdistribute pressure against your palms.

3. Grab your helmet—every time. No exceptions, even on short rides. A properly fitting helmet reduces your risk of serious brain injury. A helmet is the right size if you can shake your head from side to side and it moves only a little when you’re not wearing straps. Be sure to buckle the straps whenever you head out, though, and keep them snug.

4. Start slowly. If you haven’t been active recently, don’t overdo it. Start with a brief ride—say 15 or 20 minutes. Gradually increase your distance and speed as you feel more comfortable.

5. Stick to the rules of the road. Traffic signals and stop signs still apply to you—even on two wheels. Always ride with traffic. And use the right-most lane headed in your direction. 

6. Stand out. Wear bright clothing to help drivers see you. It’s best to avoid biking at night or dusk. But if you must be out when visibility is poor, use a front white light, a rear red one and reflectors.

7. Be predictable. Ride in a straight line, and don’t swerve between parked cars. Signal turns with your hands, and check for cars behind you before turning or switching lanes.

8. Anticipate. Be on the alert for turning vehicles and drivers in parked cars who might suddenly open their doors. Keep an eye out for debris, potholes and other road hazards as well.

9. Don’t be distracted. That means no texting, listening to music or doing anything else that takes your eyes, ears or mind off the road.

10. Be courteous. When you share paths with walkers, give them plenty of notice before you pass. You can use a bell or a horn or just call out. But be sure to do it well in advance, so nobody’s startled into a collision.

Find bike-friendly spots near you  

Check out this interactive map of bike-friendly communities, businesses and universities in your state