Sustainability on Two Wheels: The Positive Impacts of Biking
Biking is a great outdoor activity and a practical option for commuting around the city. You don't have to worry about paying for or trying to find parking or getting stuck in rush hour traffic. It's also beneficial to your health and the environment, which is definitely our main focus this month for our #StewardshipChallenge. Check out our latest blog post from Bridget, our Program and Events Coordinator VISTA. Here, she highlights the joys of bicycling around the city and offers some great tips and resources for biking around the Reno area! Keep reading to learn more.
My summers growing up in New Jersey were spent trying to find less people and more trees by biking around back roads with my best friend, Alison. We would hit the roads for hours, stopping along streams or going for long rides to reach our favorite destinations (coffee and ice cream shops). It was simple, fun, and a way to escape what felt like increasing expectations as we got older - oh the troubling teen years.
Eventually, I moved to San Jose, California where I learned to love bopping around with my other AmeriCorps friends on bikes to go to free art nights or to find the biggest trees in town (I guess there is a theme here). In 2018, I moved to Senegal where transportation was unreliable and too expensive for most of the rural community members I lived amongst. I found myself biking more than ever, despite the heat, to gain control over my culture shock, and create reliable transportation for myself. There were some struggles - my tires often went flat, and I had to make sure my dog was distracted whenever I left to avoid a chase. Ultimately, I always found myself happier on days I biked than on days I didn’t.
Today, I am still biking and enjoying exploring Reno on two wheels. There is nowhere I find more confidence in myself than behind my handlebars, I love how pollution free it is, and how strong I feel after a ride. I am aware, however, for those who have never been in a community who choses to bike rather than drive, it can be intimidating to get the hang of it all - especially in an urban setting. I am here to encourage you to try, and provide some simple steps on how to feel comfortable and safe out on the road.
Safety Tips to Keep in Mind on Every Ride
Always, always, always wear a helmet. Your brain is precious!! Your thoughts are important. Do not hit the road without a helmet on that noggin! Despite what others tell you, helmets are very cool. You can put stickers on them, or get one with a mohawk, the important thing is that you wear one!! Buying used is a great option, just be sure it is less than 5 years old. Over time, the styrofoam in helmets harden, making them more harmful - check that expiration date!
Bring water! You might end up hitting more miles than you originally planned, so always be prepared.
Use turn signals! Using your arms as turn signals allow you to warn cars and other bikers that you will be making a move. This communication is key to having a safe ride. No one can read your mind, so to ensure cars stop or yield for you, communicate with them! Always use your right arm to communicate an upcoming turn - extend your arm out when making a left turn, pointing to your destination, or turn it up making an “L” shape for right turns. Check out this video to learn more.
Know your route! Be aware of where you are heading by looking up your destination ahead of time and studying up the map. At first, choose roads you are familiar with and where the speed limit for cars is low enough that you will feel comfortable as they pass. RTC has also made a handy map for all of you who are local to the Reno area. This helps determine whether or not your route has bike paths.
Check your bike before you head out! Don’t go for a ride with a loose chain or bolts and make sure your tires are full. This gives you a better chance at a safe, successful ride.
Stay bright! Wear bright clothing, and make sure your bike has reflectors. This will increase your chance of being noticed by cars as you ride and ultimately, your safety! If riding at night, always use both a front and back light on your bike, so you can see cars and pedestrians, and they can see you!
Enjoy yourself! Take it easy at first, take some loops through the park, go out with a friend. Anything to make your time on the road a breeze.
Over time, you should start to familiarize yourself with bike components. I don’t know much, but I know how to change a tire and always carry a spare tube and portable pump so I won’t get stranded. I learned how to change a tire from a free class through a bike non-profit. Similar classes can be found at the Reno Bike Project, or you can use ye ole youtube and learn at your leisure! If you are in the Reno area, there are many opportunities for you to get involved with other bikers and find support in the area. A list of these groups can be found here!
Worried about the winter? (Me too!) But here are some clothing tips to keep you dry and warm.. But not too warm… Thanks REI!
Tools Bridget never leaves the house without: a spare tube, a multitool, tire levers, and a portable tire pump.
Thanks for reading! We hope this blog encourages you to consider more environmentally friendly alternatives for your daily commute. Check out our Stewardship Challenge Calendar for more information, tips, and daily activities to be more sustainable this month! Enjoy the ride and happy stewarding!