A. HAVE FUN. B. SAFE
Do you know that people in the U.S. spend $81 billion on biking annually, generating 770,000 jobs and $10 billion in taxes? Are you aware that women who bike 30 minutes a day have a lower risk of breast cancer? Can you believe that adolescents who bike are 48% less likely to be overweight as adults? There are a ton of reasons to bike. So let’s have fun and be safe!
More and more people are biking. There are also plenty of good reasons why all of us could be biking more often. Think about it. About 50% of all trips we make are three miles or less and 40% are two miles or less. A whopping 28% are less than one mile. You could bike – or walk – any of those distances.
May is National Bike Month and it’s a good time to focus on bike safety, as well as the health benefits of biking. If you’re getting back on your bike after a winter hiatus, the League of American Bicyclists would like you to follow their basic bike check.
It’s as easy as ABC Quick Check.
A is for Air – inflate to proper level and look for damage
B is for Brakes – replace worn breaks pads and check alignment (no rubbing)
C is for cranks and chain – tighten loose cranks and check for rust
Quick is for quick releases – fully tighten the quick release handle and point it toward the back
Check is for check it over – take a quick spin before setting out.
Now that you know your bike is set to go, it’s time to make sure you’re suited up properly. Some attire and gear is mandatory while other attire is optional.
MANDATORY: A HELMET.
Right now, 22 states including the District of Columbia have state-wide laws regarding bicycles helmets and in all states it is a good idea. Parents – be a role model. Wear a helmet when biking with your children. A helmet that fits properly is one where the front of the helmet is level with a two-finger width above your eyebrows.
OPTIONAL: EVERYTHING ELSE!
Here are a few items to consider:
- Weather. Dress in layers. If you’re going out for a major ride (one or more hours gone) you could either work up a sweat and want to lose a layer or get chilled and want to add layer. It is always a good idea to carry rain gear. A cheap acrylic poncho is easy to pack and more attractive than a black garbage bag (which also works).
- Everyday clothes. You don’t need to ride in bike shorts, although some enjoy the extra padding bike shorts provide. If wearing long pants, make sure you roll up or tie up the pant leg next to the bike chain. Many prefer tight fitting clothing as it can prevent chaffing.
- Night biking. Reflective clothing is a good idea not only for biking in the evening or at dusk, but also on cloudy days. A headlight or taillight for your bike is also recommended.
- Long rides. You’ve seen them on the road – those bikers with the colorful jerseys. Those jerseys are often made of special material which draws moisture away from the body. They also have back pockets for keys, cell phone and other doo-dads. Cycling gloves are also nice for long rides because they protect your hands from the pressure exerted by the handlebars.
In case you need a reminder that biking has an impact on your health, consider the benefits offered by biking:
So get your helmet, hop on, and head out!
- Decreased body fat levels
- Decreased stress levels
- Improved joint mobility
- Improved posture and coordination
- Increased cardiovascular fitness
- Increased muscle strength and flexibility
- Prevention or management of disease
- Strengthened bones