Pedal tips: Bike dates, tire pressure, construction obstruction, and your citizen tool box!
Welcome to Pedal Tips (Issue #4), a weekly resource to help you get back on your bike again here in metropolitan Atlanta — and maybe even inspire you to action wherever you may live. Need more help? If you are a new or returning woman-on-bike, contact me for one-on-one coaching. I also give hour-long Lunch-n-Learns to city, corporate, and community groups. Find out more here. Plus, I co-teach a fun class for seniors on trikes (yep! it’s a trend!) every Thursday in the City of Decatur, GA (email Sara Holmes to sign up).
Bike dates! — And I’m not talking the human kind! I’m talking the Medjool type. These energy-packed natural sweets are easy to carry and quick to consume while you are bike riding. They load you with a wallop of carbs, magnesium, and fiber, which revs you up and fills you up without weighing you down. Pretty darn perfect –and no regrets in the morning.
Under pressure — You face enough pressures out there riding your bike (weather, safety, hills) without worrying about your tire pressure. That’s why it makes good sense to check it during your ABC Quick Check before you ride every single time. The correct amount of air your tire should have is listed in ppi (pounds per inch) on the tire itself. In your private coaching class with me, I’ll explain the two types of valves you may encounter, how to fill your tires with a tire pump, and very specific occasions when you may want to under-inflate your tires on purpose. In general, however, under-inflated tires are a no-no because they can get something called a “pinch flat,” and they’re just not that fun or efficient to ride. Note: if your tire is flat (or close to it) and you can’t fix it immediately, do not ride on it as it can ruin your rim. (REI offers a great FREE bike maintenance basics class, by the way, where you actually fix a flat yourself.)
Closed for construction? — So what happens if you’ve selected a route that meets your needs for safety, hills, and destination and you suddenly encounter an impasse due to construction? This happens. A lot. This interference in your safe access may force you to take the lane with motor vehicles or change your route to somewhere hillier, less direct, or with hazards you weren’t anticipating. You may also experience increased road debris from the construction process. These are good reasons why you want to make sure you have solid bike handling and hazard avoidance skills as well as a clear understanding of the rules of the road, even if you intend to only ride on separated and protected paths. These skills are part of the League of American Bicyclists’ Smart Cycling curriculum, which I am certified to teach you. Trust me — you’ll be glad you learned in a safe, supportive environment before facing these realities unexpectedly.
We the people — Once you or your children have faced a potentially-dangerous “closed for construction” scenario (see above), you may wonder if there’s a better way for cities to accommodate for road and sidewalk closures. Some cities require that safe-access-for-all be part of any construction project. Even without this requirement, people who ride bikes, push strollers, use wheelchairs, and walk advocate for safe access on a project-by-project basis where they live. To do so where you live, email your city leaders, show up at city hall, and use citizen tools such as SeeClickFix, social media, and more to make a difference. Reminder: we the people own the streets. On a positive note, here is an example of safe and continual bike access unobstructed by construction that I just experienced in downtown Atlanta.
Hope to see you out and about this week! Tap in next week for more Pedal Tips.
Learning as I go,
Pattie Baker (LCI #5382)
P.S. See past issues of Pedal Tips, if you are interested: