Riding a bike instead of driving your car is healthier for you and for the planet, but depending on where you live, cycling could be….tricky…to say the least! How bikeable is your city?
Winter might seem like a less-than-ideal time to start riding, and in some places icy roads make it pretty tough to get on your bike. If the roads are clear, though, there’s no reason to skip the pedal power! Just bundle up. I’ve found that the most important gear for a winter ride are serious gloves and a scarf or face mask. When you’re pedaling, you’re basically creating wind, and that cold air can be brutal if you’re not covered. Bike Score has some more winter cycling tips that are definitely worth checking out!
The folks behind Walk Score are working on a new tool – Bike Score – and they’ve just expanded their list of cities with bike scores to include 25 major cities across the U.S. and 11 in Canada. It takes time to tally votes and compile these scores, so keep an eye on the site for more bike scores to come in 2013!
Up Next: Check out some urban cycling tips to get you going!
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by gregwhalin
Urban Cycling Tips
If your town isn’t listed, you can put some pressure on your city planner to contact Walk Score about getting listed. In the meantime, here are some tips for cycling, even in places that aren’t super bike-friendly:
- Know the rules. Laws about where you can and can’t ride vary from city to city. In some places, cyclists are supposed to ride in the road, just like a car, and in others they’re supposed to ride on the sidewalk. Know the bike laws in your town, so you can stay in the right and educate others.
- Safety first. Even if you follow the rules of the road, you want to be prepared in case something goes wrong. That means wearing a helmet. All the knowledge in the world won’t help you if you hit a pot hole and bite it or a driver swerves and knocks you to the pavement. The chances are pretty slim, but why not protect yourself just in case?
Related Reading: 6 Tips to Go Car Free
- Be visible. Are you riding on a foggy day or at night? Make sure drivers and pedestrians can see you! Choose bright colors and make sure that your bike has lights and reflectors.
- Do a practice run. If you’re planning to ride your bike to work or school, start out with a trial ride, so you can see how long it’s going to take and plan to pack a change of clothes, if the ride leaves you too sweaty.
- Use hand signals. Cars use their blinkers to tell you when they’re going to merge (in theory!), and when you’re on a bike you need to alert motorists and other cyclists when you’re going to make a move, too. I’ve found that not all motorists know the official hand signals, so just pointing where you’re planning to turn does the trick. Use your whole arm, so that your signal is extra visible.
Do you bike commute or otherwise use your bike for transportation? Share your urban cycling tips in the comments!
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by Pug50