Want to feel like a kid again? Ride a bike!
There's nothing quite like the feeling of cruising down your street or a nearby trail on a bicycle with family or friends. It's a feeling of rejuvenation and freedom where you can choose your own speed, where you want to go and how you will get there.
People of all ages and abilities can discover, or rediscover, the joys of riding a bike. The first few times out may seem a little uncomfortable or challenging, but as you continue to ride, you will be more comfortable in the saddle and you'll have more endurance to ride farther.
Spring is the perfect time to swap out some car rides for bicycle trips. The cool mornings and warm afternoons are ideal for biking to and from work. If you're worried about sweating too much, take it easy in the morning and push yourself harder on the way home. When possible, consider bringing a change of clothes. If riding to work is not an option, consider biking to dinner, worship, the farmers market, festivals or a TinCaps game with friends. Bikes are an especially friendly way to travel when parking is at a premium thanks to the abundance of bicycle racks in Fort Wayne.
To be a cyclist, you do not have to wear special clothing or shoes. I do recommend wearing a helmet, regardless of whether you are an adult or child. If you happen to fall or have a collision, the helmet is your first line of defense for protecting your precious brain. They may not be the height of fashion, but the alternative is far worse.
As a League of American Bicyclists cycling instructor, I teach cyclists to follow these rules of the road:
Follow the law: As a cyclist you have the same rights and duties as motorists when riding in the roadway. You must obey stop signs and traffic signals. In other words, ride your bike like you would drive your car. Ride with traffic in the rightmost lane, but don't hug the curb. Give yourself plenty of space in case you need to swerve to avoid an obstacle, plus it discourages drivers from trying to pass you within the lane.
Be predictable: Ride in a straight line and don't swerve around parked cars. Signal your intentions and check behind you before changing lanes.
Be visible: Wear bright clothing. Use a front white light and rear red light and reflectors when it is dark or in low-light conditions. Make eye contact with others. If you ride on a sidewalk, do so cautiously and be courteous to pedestrians. Motorists are not anticipating cyclists on sidewalks.
Think ahead: Watch for turning vehicles, ride outside the car door zone and look out for debris in the road. Try to anticipate what others might do next in order to keep yourself safe.
Make sure your bike is working properly before you set out on your ride. A great way to do this is to perform an ABC quick check prior to each ride, checking the air, breaks, chain, crank, cassette and quick releases.
Fort Wayne and Allen County is fortunate to have a great network of multiuse trails, which are very family-friendly places to ride. As our trails become more popular every year, please keep to the right and pass on the left. Alert other trail users by voice or with a bell when you are about pass, and yield to pedestrians or other slower trail users when appropriate.
Your ears are just as important as your eyes when you are riding to alert you to danger and obstacles. It's best not to wear earphones, but if necessary, limit them to one ear.
You can find a lot of great information at the League of American Bicyclists' website at www.bikeleague.org/ridesmart.
Don't know how to ride a bike? It's never too late to learn. I have helped adults learn to ride a bicycle. Seeing the joy on their faces is priceless.
As the saying goes, “It's like riding a bike.”
Amy Hartzog is a cycling instructor with the League of American Bicyclists and bike commuter