COLUMBIA — Bike, Walk & Wheel Week 2009 events continued Wednesday with a brown bag lunch seminar at the YouZeum for bike commuters. The seminar focused on tips for buying a bike to fit one's needs, maintenance and route planning.
Columbia's 8th annual Bike, Walk & Wheel Week is designed to encourage nonmotorized modes of transportation, such as walking or biking, to get around town. The benefits of active transportation are promoted at all of the weeks events and include: saving money on gas, bypassing the hassle of parking, added personal health benefits for the active commuter and a smaller impact on environmental resources.
Consider where you intend to ride when selecting your bicycle
- Mountain bike features generally are not necessary for city roads; the design of off-road biking will sap your energy.
- Bikes built for speed only are generally not sturdy enough for daily or weekly use.
- A hybrid is generally the best choice for commuting bicyclists.
Keep an eye on your tire pressure
- The recommended tire pressure should be printed on the side of the bike tire. Making sure the tire pressure is within that range can help avoid problems.
- Low tire pressure wears quickly on the tire, tubes and wheel as the tire cannot absorb enough shock to be effective.
- High tire pressure makes for an uncomfortable ride and can make punctures more likely.
Some 'extras' may be worthwhile investments
- Racks or trailers: They encumber the biker less than a backpack and can allow you to commute with as much as you need for where you are going.
- Lock: Allows you to safely leave your bike at a parking meter or bike rack.
- Fenders: Although they generally have to be purchased separately for bicycles made in the United States, fenders protect the rider from dirt, mud or water thrown off the tires.
- Make sure your footwear and pedals will allow you to start quickly and safely. If you're worried about slipping, toe clips are small cages that the foot slips into to grip the foot, but can still be worn with a regular shoe.
- Lights, lights, lights. Make sure you are visible at night, with a headlight in front and at the very minimum a reflector in back; front and rear lights are ideal.
- Carry a bike repair kit with you.
Source: Presentation by Robert Johnson and Michelle Windmoeller at Bike, Walk & Wheel Week 2009
Events such as the brown bag lunch seminar aim to educate bike commuters and those considering bike commuting on their options and safety. Benefits of bike commuting can extend long term, as fewer miles put on a motor vehicle can stretch the length of time needed between oil changes, tire replacement and general maintenance, according to the GetAbout Columbia Web site.
The seminar was presented by Robert Johnson, a licensed bicycle instructor with the League of American Bicyclists and education coordinator of PedNet, and Michelle Windmoeller, also a licensed bicycle instructor. Bike commuters themselves, Johnson and Windmoeller were able to share personal preferences and tips gained by experience.
"Anything that makes you more visible to drivers is a good thing," Johnson said of lighting and reflective gear, which he recommends wearing as much of as possible. He also recommended riding with an extra tail light at night, because "you'll know if your front light goes out, but if you're out on a 20-mile ride and your back light goes out, you have no way of knowing until you get home."
Windmoeller stressed money could be saved if a rider changes their own bike tires and recommended a bell as an efficient way to signal to others when passing.
GetAbout Columbia offers bicycling classes for teens and adults interested in bike commuting safely and legally. For more information or to register go to www.GoColumbiaMo.com or call 442-7189 ext. 28.