Spring, or more commonly in Calgary, “sprinter” is here! The sun is shining, days are getting longer and the snow is (hopefully) behind us! With the change in weather comes a change in activities, biking being a family favorite! Whether you love to commute by bike, enjoy getting out for a road cycle, or want to check out the local pathways in a new way, biking is a fun and family friendly activity for everyone.
If you’re new to biking, or perhaps are dusting off the ol’ bike that’s been buried in the garage check out the following tips to ensure a safe and fun ride for the whole family this spring!
1. GEAR CHECK: Before heading out make sure you’ve got the following gear to make your ride comfortable and temperature appropriate!
- Helmet: The most important piece of gear you can have, although adults over 18 are not legally bound to have a helmet, I highly recommend wearing one even for short rides!
- Windbreaker: This versatile piece is an easy layer that will help keep you warm on chilly spring days, and is easily packable when the sun comes out!
- Gloves: When the wind picks up, or on early morning/ late evening rides gloves are key for comfortable (and warm) spring riding in Calgary.
- Backpack: A small backpack is a great accessory for spring riding to store your extra layers as needed, as well as your essentials like phone, wallet, water bottle, or even a post-ride snack!
- Closed-toe shoes: Although sandals are tempting as the temperatures increase, closed-toe shoes like a running shoe are ideal for ensuring your feet stay warm, and don’t slip off the pedals
- Pro-tip: If you plan on commuting to work on your bike, or are going to brave a less than sunny day, rain pants are a great addition to your gear line up to keep you warm and dry no matter what weather rolls in!
2. SAFETY / BIKE PATH ETIQUETTE: Most pathways in Calgary and Airdrie are multi-use and are shared between cyclists and pedestrians. Proper pathway etiquette is key to keeping everyone on the path safe! Road safety and hand signals are also important if you plan to venture off the pathway and onto the street.
- Use your Bell! By law, all bike users in Alberta must have a bell on their bike. Bells are used to warn fellow cyclists, pedestrians, and other pathway goers you are behind them, would like to pass, or even simply as common courtesy especially if they have a dog, or small child.
- Read the signs: Most pathways have a posted speed limit, and even if they don’t be mindful of pathway traffic and busyness. Slow down and give extra time to pass people with dogs (in case the dog is reactive), kids, elderly, or anyone with limited mobility.
- Use hand signals: Especially when venturing out onto the road hand signals are important tools to use as a cyclist. (Learn the proper hand signals by watching our video below!)
3. BIKE MAINTENANCE: Just like your car, your bike needs regular maintenance to ensure a smooth ride and a long life! Spring is an especially great time to give your bike a little tune up and get it ready for the warmer weather and adventures ahead!
- Check your tires: Most bikes should be around 50-70 PSI (pounds per square inch). Temperature change, type of tire and how often you ride will determine how often you will need to inflate your tires and to what degree. (Click HERE for a general guide)
- Oil your chain: Particularly in spring when the snow is melting, salt and dirt can get on your chain causing rust and damaging build up. Cleaning your chain and adding oil will ensure a smooth ride and a longer life for your bike!
- Take it to the pros! Many bike and sport shops do simple tune ups to get your bike ride ready for spring/ summer. Book early as spring-time is a busy season for fellow cyclists looking to do the same!
4. CHOOSING A ROUTE: There are many options to enjoy pathways for biking around Calgary and Airdrie. Before your ride, plan your route utilizing the City of Calgary’s route finder HERE, or the City of Airdrie’s bike map HERE. Some of our favorite places to bike include:
- Bayview Park, Airdrie
- Around Genesis Place, Airdrie
- Nose Creek, Airdrie
- Sage Hill Crest, Calgary NW
- Symons Valley Nature Reserve, Calgary NW
- Nosehill Park, Calgary NW
- Saddlestone Park, Calgary NE
- Bow River Pathway, Calgary