Introducing 'Ask a Cyclist': a weekly Q&A
Introducing a new blog series: Ask a Cyclist
By Holly Reid
Holly is a long-time city cyclist, recreational road rider, Cycle Toronto member, and safe cycling advocate.
Each week, our resident safe cycling enthusiast Holly will break down common questions Torontonians have about riding their bikes in the city. Whether you are newer to cycling and want the rules of the road demystified, or are simply looking for how to get your bike ready to ride this spring, follow along as our Holly answers your questions.
Have a cycling question for Holly? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let's get right into it! Our first question is one that many fair-weather riders will want to read. It's also a good refresher for anyone who has been riding year-round.
“With winter behind us, I’m ready to get out on my bike. Any tips for a safe start this spring?”
Your back-on-the-bike checklist for spring
Warm weather. Bare roads. Longer days. What’s for a cyclist not to like? Whether you are getting your bike out of storage or have been riding all winter, it’s always a good idea to make sure you and your bike are road ready. Just follow these easy steps and then get out there and enjoy your ride!
Bike ready to ride ✔
After sitting outside all winter (or riding through snow and salt), cables can be stretched, tires underinflated and your chain may be rusty. Give your bike the ABC quick check to make sure it’s good to go.
Air: Are your tires properly inflated? Do they have a good tread? Do your wheels spin freely? And if you have quick-release fittings, make sure they are tight and securely closed.
Brakes and bars: Do your brakes (front and back) work and are the pads in good shape? Are your handlebars secure?
Chain: Is your chain clean, lightly oiled and tight? Do your pedals spin freely? If you have gears, do they change smoothly?
In their safety check, the City of Hamilton has added a “D” for “Drop,” suggesting you raise your bike a few inches off the ground and let it drop to see if anything is loose or falls off. And, of course, reflectors, lights and your bell should all be in good order.
*Tip: Want to learn more about bike maintenance? Check out these free or low-cost clinics, and DIY facilities throughout the city.
Helmet fits right ✔
When it’s warm enough to give up your hat or headband, remember to adjust your helmet so that it sits tightly – one finger should fit between the strap and your chin. Learn the 2-4-1 helmet fitting method in this video by WorkingWell Canada.
Rules and road conditions ✔
Make sure you are up to speed on the rules of the road. The Toronto Cyclist Handbook, available online in 13 languages, is a great place to start. And winter is tough on our roads and bike lanes. Early spring riding can mean negotiating potholes and curbside debris. Remember, you can ride up to one metre from the curb, helping you avoid hazards. And if you spot a pothole ahead and need to venture around it, remember to hand signal first and proceed only when it is safe to do so.