Campus & City Guide, Health & Wellness

Cycling 101

Riding your bike is a great way to get around the city. It can save you hundreds of dollars in transportation costs and it will motivate you to explore your neighbourhood more. Riding your bike in Toronto may seem overwhelming, but I can guarantee that if you have the chance to try it out, you will love it. Here are some tips that will help you on your cycling journey!

Protect the Precious Cargo

Safety is the first and most important thing to think about when taking up cycling. Although you may feel goofy or your hairdo may get in the way, is it really worth a serious head injury? Study about cycling accidents that 92% of bike fatalities occurred through bike and motor vehicle accidents, and 97% of those fatalities were not wearing a helmet. When biking in an urban centre you must be aware and assertive. This includes buying lights that go on the front and back of your bicycle (just like a car) so that drivers can see you when you are riding at night. You can find inexpensive ($10) lights at store such as Canadian Tire or Sport Chek. While you’re there, make sure to pick up a bell, as biking without both is a $110 fine. You might not realize how useful the bell is until you’re trying to pass someone in the bike lane, and it’s your only form of communication. 

You also want to ensure the safety of your actual bike! In the city, unfortunately there is a higher chance of your bicycle being stolen. To prevent this, purchase a thick, metal lock. Kryptonite brand locks are fairly expensive, but the hardened steel makes it next to impossible for someone to cut through and snag your bike. 

Find the Right Fit

It is crucial that you find the the right fit, not only stylistically, but for your purpose and your size. To begin, make sure you are choosing a bicycle that is made for where you are planning to ride. If you are in the city, perhaps consider a “road bike” that has narrow tires that are meant for riding on relatively smooth surfaces (be careful riding across streetcar tracks!). Next, you need to consider getting “fitted” for a bicycle. Choosing a bike that is the right size will make it easier on your body and the bicycle. List of best bike shops in Toronto and they can help you find the right size frame, wheels etc. Having the right size bike will make your ride far more comfortable, speedy, and easy to handle. 

Know the Rules

Bicycle-had-signals
Point to the direction you’re going. Not rocket science, exactly.

Riding your bike in Toronto may be very different from your experiences of riding your bike at home. The roads are busier, and maybe you’ve never encountered a one-way street. There are several main roads that have designated bike lanes, which give both you and drivers peace of mind. Just like drivers, you will have to stop at red lights, and go at green; you know, the basics of driving on the road.

However, what are the unwritten rules of the road? The rules that everyone seems to know except you? When you’re riding your bike in the city you will pick up on what other cyclists do. For instance, when you are making a turn, you must inform those around you what you are doing. If you are turning right you will take your left arm and make a 90 degree angle pointing to the sky. If you are making a left had turn you simply stick your arm straight out pointing left. You may be wondering why you use your left hand for all turning signals? This is because the drivers will be able to see you signal. There are different bylaws in different cities, so make sure you know your responsibilities as a driver and your rights as a cyclist. Check out the city of Toronto’s website for more info!

Use Google Maps!

googletrike
The adorable tricycle that maps the trails for us so we don’t have to go outside and see what they look like.

When you are planning on going somewhere new and are not quite sure how to get there I am sure you may think to use Google maps. What makes Google even better is that when you search a destination, you can select it to offer routes that are bicycling friendly. Which is AWESOME. It will highlight the streets that have designated bike lanes as well as which streets are cyclist friendly!

Know Your Comfort Zone

It is important that when you are riding your bike you know what makes you feel great or what makes you feel nervous. For example, when I am biking I don’t feel comfortable making left hand turns. I have to cross the street with the pedestrians and then turn when the light changes. Cycling is not something that is meant to be done in one way, there’s no be all and end all form. Do what makes you feel comfortable, but most importantly, do what keeps you safe.

Bike Share Toronto

Don’t have your own wheels but want to give cycling a try? Bike Share Toronto offers memberships so you can hop on and hop off one of their bikes from various spots all over the city. Actually, we’ve got some 24 hour passes to Bike Share Toronto to give away – comment below or tweet us your favourite cycling route or where you would bike to if you had the chance, we might surprise you!

 

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