Time to dust off your bike

by Rachelle Niemela | March 4, 2013

Bike

The cycling season is just around the corner. Before you hit the road, give your bicycle a safety inspection and ensure it’s safe to ride. FILE PHOTO

While some Sudburians have been cycling throughout the winter, most of us put our bikes away for the snowy season. With spring just around the corner, now’s the time to start thinking about making sure you and your children will bike safely in 2013.

Bicycle check

Check your safety equipment. By law, every bike must be equipped with a bell and reflector tape, and for those who ride around dusk or at night, you must use a front white light and rear red light or reflector. 

Apply lubricant to the chain, derailler, the pivot point on the brake levers and any exposed cable wire. Fix rust spots by gently rubbing steel wool on the rusted areas. Use a biodegradable cleaner to clean all bike parts.

Brake pads: ensure brakes are working smoothly and properly;
Brake and shifter cables: should be attached securely and be free of cracks, crimps, rust and dirt;

Wheels and rims: make sure they’re turning properly; tires should not be worn or have splits, cracks or tears, especially on their sides;

Gears: shifting from gear to gear should be smooth and easy to do.

If you find problems in your inspection you can’t fix yourself, it’s best to bring your bike to a bike shop. Most shops in Sudbury will do a complete tuneup for $50 to $60. Having a safe bike that will run well through the summer season is well worth the cost.

Riding safely

It’s not only your bike that needs a safety check. Make sure you and your safety gear are also road ready.

- Check your helmet to make sure that it isn’t damaged or cracked. Also check it for fit. This is especially important for children, who are likely to outgrow a helmet from season to season.

- Wear bright clothing to be more visible to drivers.

- Plan for your first ride. Dig up your water bottle and other riding accessories like your tools, bicycle pump and lock.

- Review the rules of the road. A bike is a vehicle and all cyclists must follow the rules of the road. Go over riding on the right side of the road, turn signals, stopping, and other safe cycling tips with your children. You can contact the Greater Sudbury Police Service or Rainbow Routes Association for materials to help both kids and adults learn the correct skills.

Cycling is a healthy and fun way to get to work, school, or to go shopping. So start working cycling into your daily routine.

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Rachelle Niemela is a member of the Sudbury Cyclists Union.

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