Get Moving! Celebrate National Bike Month and Bike Week LA

my red bike at the beach by spDuchamp (CC BY 2.0)

How do you get moving? If you’re an Angeleno, you probably get moving in a car, huh? Well, it’s time to change that! May is National Bike Month, and this week is Bike Week LA. Riding a bike to work and school or to run errands is an eco-friendly way to save money, save the earth and get exercise all at the same time! How perfect is that?! Bike commuting burns an average of 540 cal/hour, and a daily 4-mile bike ride saves 66 gallons of fuel per year. Can’t beat that. So, to celebrate, why not pledge to swap out at least one car commute with a bike commute? Here’s a handy guide on how to switch over to a bike:

How to Choose a Bike

There are five bike options for commuters. Each has pros and cons, so choose according to your commute:

Photo by slobikelane
Photo by slobikelane

The Commuter Bike and The Cruiser/Comfort Bike – A commuter bike, also known as a city bike, is a great bike choice for a first time bike commuter who has different types of commutes. With an upright riding style, they are comfortable, but with their multi-speed capabilities, they can weather slopes easily.  Opt for pavement tires if you’re always going to stick to the streets. Don’t forget fenders to ward off splashes! A cruiser bike looks very similar to a commuter bike, but only has one speed. People usually opt for a cruiser because of comfort; in fact, a cruiser is also known as a comfort bike. They are good for short and flat commutes.

Photo by Umberto Brayj
Photo by Umberto Brayj

The Mountain Bike, The Road Bike and The Single Speed/Fixed Gear (Fixie) Bike – A mountain bike has multiple speeds and is great for off-roading. If you are going to be mostly on pavement, swap out your mountain bike tires for pavement tires. It’ll be faster and easier. A road bike is perfect for long distance commutes where you’ll have little cargo and a need for speed. They are less comfortable with their drop handlebars and narrow seats, but they are lightweight with narrow tires. A single speed/fixed gear (AKA fixie) bike is a popular choice these days. They look like road bikes but only have a single speed. While they boast easy care, they aren’t the easiest bikes to ride, and they are not good for riding on slopes.

Still don’t know what to get? Commuter bikes are usually the best option for beginners.

Photo by Craig Berry
Photo by Craig Berry

How to Protect Yourself

While persons over 18 in California are not legally required to wear a bike helmet, I always recommend wearing a bike helmet. There are also many options for body armor to wear if you’ll be in dangerous car traffic.

If you will be riding a bike at night, make sure you have reflectors, use both front and back lights and wear reflective clothing.

How to Navigate the Streets

Riding a bike does not mean there are no street rules. Read up here on what bike road laws you need to follow.

How to Keep Your Bike Healthy

You should take your bike in to be serviced and checked out at least once a year. Make sure to check your tire pressure at least every week. If your bike sounds loud or your chain feels dry, lube your chain with non-petroleum lubricant. Lastly, keep your transmission clean!

Don’t forget that Metro Los Angeles is hosting a ton of events this week to celebrate Bike Week LA. Hope to see you in the bike lane soon! If you still have questions, visit your local bike shop (they know everything!), or tweet me @northstarmoving!

Do you ride your bike? Tell me about it in the Comments section!