Bicycle Bliss: 15+ Smart Cycling Tips
May is National Bike Month, which means more and more cyclists hitting the streets and trails around town. Whether on two wheels or four, it’s imperative to follow the rules of the road and be considerate. To ensure we’re all respecting the same laws, we asked local bike experts to share their top tips for keeping everyone safe.
“Watch your speed on the trails and be alert for pedestrians. As trail usage continues to increase, we want to make sure to be safe and courteous to all users,” says Jim Konopka, senior park planner of trails for Folsom’s Parks and Recreation Department.
“Pedestrians [should] walk on the left side of trails facing oncoming bicycle traffic. Making eye contact between the cyclist and pedestrian makes a big difference,” Konopka says.
“Being visible is a must when riding and being able to let people know where you are without shouting is helpful, too. A polite bell lets others know you’re near. Ring it often,” says Adam Titone, one of the bike experts at Mike’s Bikes.
“Stay aware of what’s happening around you. Look out for and [be cognizant] of vehicles making right turns across your path. Be aware of transit zones, bus stops, and passenger loading zones. Stop at red lights and stop signs until you’re certain it’s safe to cross,” Titone says.
“Giving clear signals out on the road to both cyclists and drivers is essential to your safety. Whether you’re turning, stopping, signaling danger, or pulling out, clear hand signals help to keep you, drivers, and your riding pals safe,” says Josh Mott, one of the bike experts at Folsom Bike.
According to Mott, “The most common hand signal is the one used when turning. Simply raise your right or left arm and point in the direction you’re turning. Make sure you do this nice and early, before your turn, to give other road users enough time to react to your signal. This also gives you extra time to brake if you’re going to need to come to a stop.”
“Helmets meeting the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission bicycle standards range in price from $40-$200. A good helmet should fit comfortably and ventilate hot air efficiently; their recommended life span is five years after minimal use,” Titone says.
“Lights are made for two purposes: to see and to be seen. Brighter lights help navigate darker areas, while others are made to help you become more visible to other riders and drivers,” Titone advises.
“Acknowledge other riders by being friendly. Unexpected moves cause accidents—ride safely and watch out for others, yield to pedestrians, avoid [riding on] sidewalks, and use care at crosswalks,” Titone says.
“Be a smart rider. Use bike-specific routes and know alternatives just in case. Be ready for changing weather and technical issues such as a flat. Also, safety in numbers; find a commuter group that rides together,” Titone says.
“Especially at night, wear gloves with reflective elements, as this will help to catch the attention of drivers,” Mott suggests.
“Keep your bike safe by using a good lock and knowing how to use it. Register your bike and add it to your insurance policy. Keep your serial number on file. Learn to use the tools for security to deter theft,” Titone says.
“Make sure both front and rear brakes are working and providing the appropriate level of modulation. If your brake pads or braking cables are worn, it’s time for a trip to your local bike shop to ensure you keep stopping safely,” Mott advises.
“Know your bike. Have it tuned-up if you notice something isn’t right. Know your tires, how much air you need, and how used they are. A dirty bike is a used bike; a clean bike is a happy bike,” Titone says.
Great Scott Bike and Walk Event
Enjoy cycling along Scott Road and surrounding streets in Folsom, El Dorado Hills, and Rancho Cordova—without the distraction of motorized vehicles—from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at this free, family-friendly event. Live music, giveaways, mini-massages, and food trucks will also be part of the day’s activities. bikegreatscott.com
Tour de Lincoln
Cycle the scenic back roads of Lincoln and South Placer County at this fee-based ride that includes a continental breakfast, well-stocked rest stops, and a post-ride BBQ. tourdelincoln.org
Apple Blossom Bike Tour
Choose from three routes—a metric century, metric half-century, or family ride—at this scenic, safe, and fun-filled ride through Apple Hill. Tasty apple treats, healthy snacks, and refreshing drinks will be provided at the rest stops, followed by a post-ride meal. appleblossombiketour.com
WHERE TO RIDE
The new Johnny Cash Trail, which extends from Folsom’s Historic District to Folsom Lake and the American River Bike Trail, has a few hills along the way with amazing scenery and the 190-foot Robber’s Ravine Bridge.
Roseville boasts nearly 100 miles of on-street bike lanes and 35 miles of off-street bike paths. Go for a ride along Miners Ravine Trail (catch the trail at Sculpture Park behind Home Depot and North Sunrise Avenue and ride all the way to Sierra College Boulevard) or catch the south branch of the Pleasant Grove Creek Trail at Veterans Memorial Park and ride through beautiful open space and majestic oak trees to Blue Oaks Park.
The Humbug-Willow Creek Trail extends about 16 miles from Lake Natoma Trail to Empire Ranch and is super scenic with most of the trail running parallel to Humbug and Willow Creeks.
The El Dorado Trail—a multimodal transportation corridor that passes through California’s historic Gold Rush country and runs over 35 miles—boasts various bike paths and access points. For a paved route, park at Placerville Station (2970 Mosquito Road) and take the trail east to Camino or west into Downtown Placerville.
To log your miles for prizes during National Bike Month, visit mayisbikemonth.com.