University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

Work Life Balance

Bicycling

BikingMost people know the benefits of regular daily physical activity. In fact, the Surgeon General says that as little as 30 minutes of brisk walking or cycling a day is enough to improve your energy level and mood, aid with weight loss, and reduce your risk for a host of chronic afflictions and an early demise. But how do you make physical activity a habit that will stick? A start is to set reasonable goals, build gradually, and keep your activity fun. The following are some easy ways you can incorporate physical activity into your daily routine:
  • Bike one daily trip for which you'd normally drive the car.
  • Get a cycling buddy or take a family ride after dinner.
  • Bike with a child to school or participate in a Walk to School Day event.
  • Ride through your neighborhood and rate it's "bikeability."
  • Keep a daily activity log. Estimate the mileage you biked or the minutes you spent doing something active.
  • Join a cycling club or form a cycling group with a regular schedule. There is encouragement in numbers.

Bicycling for BeginnersBicycling for Beginners
If it's been too long since you've ridden your bicycle last, now's the time to dust off your bicycle and get back in the saddle. Here are a few tips to save some embarrassment and to keep you safe!
  1. Tune UpGet Your Bicycle Checked Out—Take your bicycle to your local bicycle shop and get a tune-up. Your bike is a wonderfully simple and efficient machine, but needs some TLC-and you don't want to break down your first time out. Most bike dealers have specials to check the essentials (brakes, gears, tires, etc.) and squirt oil in all the right places.
  2. Get Yourself Checked Out—If you really haven't ridden in a long time, it might be wise to check in with your doctor and see if there's any reason you shouldn't be saddling up and going for a spin. Bicycling is such a great way to get the recommended daily dose of exercise that chances are your doctor will encourage you to go for it. Don't try and ride 50 miles straight away; take it slowly and you'll enjoy the ride and still be able to walk again the next day.
  3. Deck Yourself Out with the Latest Gear—Simplicity is certainly one of the attractions of bicycling-you can just hop on your bike and start riding. But, there's also a lot of equipment available to make your ride safer and more comfortable. Things have come a long way since the days of the wool cycling shorts...for example:
    1. A wide variety of helmets are available in different styles and price ranges.
      Your local bike dealer will help you get the right size and fit.Bicycling
    2. A sturdy lock is essential if you're planning on riding your bike and leaving it somewhere for a while.
    3. Front and rear lights and reflectors are required, and make good sense, if you're going to be riding at night or dusk.
    4. Padded shorts, gloves and other special clothing will make longer rides more comfortable, but probably aren't necessary for riding to the video store and back.
    5. Reflective and bright clothing is essential. Making yourself more visible to other traffic is a practical, easy and effective safety habit!
  4. Find a Safe Place to Practice—Again, if you really haven't ridden in a long time, it makes sense to regain your confidence on the bike and practice somewhere safe as opposed to on the main road to work. Find a quiet street, trail, playground, or empty parking lot and get back in touch with your bike handling skills. Practice looking behind you, making turns, stopping suddenly, dodging rocks or potholes, changing gears, and even getting on and off. If you are using toe clips or clipless pedals, take a few extra minutes to remind yourself how to get your feet out in a hurry!
  5. Follow the Rules of the Road—When you're ready to hit the road or trail, remembering a few basic safety rules will help you avoid the most common mistakes that cause crashes.
  6. Have Fun—Bicycling is fun, healthy, safe, convenient, and by riding you are setting a great example for others. So above all have a great time riding. Communities across the United States celebrate National Bike Month and other bicycle related events and activities, so find out what's going on in your community, and have a great ride.

Bicycle TipsSafety Tips for Bicyclists
  1. Riding SafelyAlways ride with traffic and follow the rules of the road. Forget what you might have heard in the past, you are better off riding with the flow of traffic, not against it. You are much more predictable and visible to motorists, especially at intersections and driveways. Ride in a straight line, not in and out of cars, and use hand signals when turning and stopping. Obey traffic signs, signals, and lane markings and yield to traffic when appropriate, including pedestrians.
  2. Don't ride on the sidewalk. Although you might think it's a safer option, motorists are simply not looking for bicyclists on the sidewalk, especially those riding against traffic. So at every driveway and intersection, you are at much greater risk of being hit by a motorist than if you were riding on the road with traffic. Pedestrians will thank you for riding on the road as well.
  3. Ride on the trail, paved shoulder, bike lane, or bike route. But, you still need to follow the rules of the road and watch out for your fellow travelers. Ride to the right, signal your turns, obey traffic signs and signals.
  4. Visible CyclistBe predictable and visible. Try not to be hesitant or do things that motorists and other travelers may not be expecting. Make sure everyone can see you and knows where you are and where you are going. If riding in the dark, use headlights, taillights and reflectors, and wear reflective materials and brightly colored clothing. Do not wear headphones or talk on a cell phone while bicycling.
  5. Watch for stuff on the road or trail that might make you fall or swerve. Rocks, trash, storm grates, wet leaves, potholes, gravel, railroad tracks, and even wet pavement markings can all send you flying. Also watch for parked cars, doors opening, and cars pulling in and out of driveways.
  6. Watch for turning traffic. Perhaps rather surprisingly, the crash data tells us that getting hit from behind is extremely unlikely. Most car/bike collisions happen at intersections and driveways when motorists or bicyclists are turning. So, at every intersection and driveway, keep a careful eye out for: 
    • Motorists turning right in front of you-you may be going faster than they think.
    • Motorists turning left across your path-drivers are looking for gaps in traffic and may not be paying attention to anything other than other motor vehicles.

carSafety Tips for Motorists
  1. Watch for Bicyclists at all Times. Bicycles are vehicles and bicyclists may take the entire lane. Scan for bicyclists in traffic and give them the appropriate right-of-way. Children and novice riders can be unpredictable; expect the unexpected. Watch for bicyclists before opening car doors. Don't drive distracted or after consuming alcohol or other drugs.
  2. Drive the Speed and Avoid Aggressive Maneuvers. Obey speed limits and come to a complete stop at stop signs. Allow extra time for bicyclists to traverse intersections. Recognize hazards that bicyclists may face and give them space to maneuver.
  3. Pass Bicyclists with Care. Treat bicyclists as you would a slow-moving car-don't tailgate,Bicycling
    and do wait until traffic conditions allow you to safely pass the bicyclist. Reduce speed when passing bicyclists and allow at least 3 ft of passing space. Check over your shoulder after passing a bicyclist before moving back. Don't blast your horn in close proximity to bicyclists.
  4. Use the above suggestions for Motorcyclists too!