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Section 2 - Getting Started

Start with a bicycle in good working condition that is the right size for you. Adjust the bike seat and handlebars for greatest comfort. 
Your local bicycle shop, friend who rides, or online video tutorials can help guide you through the process to select a bicycle that 
works for you and the type of riding you want to do.

Plan Accordingly

Plan your route ahead of time. If you are trying a new way of traveling to/from work or school, consider trying it out on the weekend when there is no pressure. This way you can see how long it takes and what supplies you need. If you are commuting to 
work, consider leaving some basic supplies (shoes, etc.) at work so that you don’t have to carry as much with you. Remember to bring water and flat changing supplies just in case you need them.

Secure luggage racks, panniers, saddle bags and other accessories before you ride. Make sure that your pant legs and/or shoelaces will not get caught in your chain. Fenders will keep you dry and clean and make riding in wet weather more enjoyable.

Weather and Road Conditions

Use your favorite app or tune into weather reports before you travel. Dress appropriately for the weather. Visit https://www.tripcheck.com to get real-time traffic information from ODOT TripCheck.

The “ABC Quick Check”

Before every ride, perform an ABC Quick Check to ensure your bicycle is in good working condition:
  • Air
    • Tubes should be inflated with the right amount of air. Look for markings on the side of the tire indicating target pounds-force per square inch or PSI to inflate your tires up to.
    • Inspect tires to ensure they are in good condition without punctures, holes, or sharp debris.
  • Brakes
    • Front and rear brakes should be in good condition and responsive enough to bring you to a stop in wet and dry conditions.
    • The brake levers should be easy to reach. Try to push your bicycle forward and make sure that when you squeeze the levers, your bicycle stops.
  • Cranks and Chain
    • Ensure cranks and chain are clean and moving smoothly, not loose or stuck.
    • Turn the pedals to check for smooth chain movement and noises.
  • Quick Release
    • If your bicycle has “quick release” wheels or seat, the quick release should be tightened with the lever pushed in flat. When you push the lever down, it should be pushed hard enough that it leaves a temporary impression on your hand.
  • Check it Over
    • Take a slow, short test ride to feel and listen for any issues.
Adapted from the League of American Bicyclists 

Image - a woman and two children riding bicycles along a park path.
Bicycling with kids demands more attention and communication.

Bicycling with Kids

Bicycling with kids can be a fun way to spend time together, get exercise, and get to school or other destinations. Riding with kids, especially small ones using their own bicycles, demands more attention and communication. Remember the ABC Quick Check 
for kids’ bikes too and plan out where to ride. There are routes and paths that make family and group riding easier. For more 
information on bicycling with babies, with toddlers, and when pregnant, check out the Portland Family Biking Guide: https://tinyurl.com/familybiking.

Bicycling with Cargo

Bicycles can help transport your everyday items and larger hauls. The key is having the right gear for the size and weight of what you’re carrying. Carrying cargo impacts your balance and ability to start, stop, and steer; so take time to practice and adjust to the load. Keep the load balanced, secure and out of the way of your steering, pedaling, and any moving parts of your bicycle. There are a variety of bags, racks, trailers, straps and baskets available for sale or rent at bicycle shops and other retailers that can help you carry groceries and other cargo on any bike. Specialized cargo bicycles and cargo e-bicycles can help you carry multiple kids or larger, heavier loads.

Image - four people riding bicycles along a marked bicycle path..
Plan ahead and remember to share the road (or path) when riding with others.

Bicycling with Groups

You and a companion may ride side by side on the road if you don’t impede the flow of other traffic. If other traffic doesn’t have enough room to pass you safely, transition to riding single file. On rural roads, breaking into smaller groups can make it easier for vehicles to pass. It can be helpful to plan ahead and decide with your friend who will ride ahead and who will ride behind when you transition to single file riding. When riding as a group, everyone is considered to be a separate “vehicle.” This means that if you come to a stop sign or an intersection with a 4-way stop, each person riding must stop or yield separately. This might mean that the group has to pause or slow down to meet back up. The person in the front should communicate to the other riders if there are obstacles to avoid in front of them.

Bicycles and Transit

You can link bicycle trips with transit to go even further. Many transit providers in Oregon have bike racks on the front of their buses so you can take your bicycle with you, but keep in mind that these racks usually only fit two or three bicycles. You can also bring most bicycles on Amtrak Cascades trains. Check for price and availability when you book your ticket. Some bus stops and transit centers also offer secure bicycle parking so you can leave your bicycle safely secured at the station. Many transit providers cannot accommodate cargo bikes, adult tricycles, tandems, or bicycles with trailers on buses and trains. Check with your local transit provider. 

People driving buses often have to pull across or into bicycle lanes at bus stops. The bus driver should yield to people in the bicycle lane before pulling over to the stop. If a bus is stopped in the bicycle lane, you can move into the traffic lane to the left to pass the bus when there is a gap in traffic. If there is a bus pullout, you can ride past the bus in the bicycle lane. When the bus is leaving a stop and turns on its blinker, vehicles (including bicycles) should yield to the bus.

Image - a city bus with a bicycle rack mounted on the front .
Most buses in Oregon have racks that can fit two or three bicycles.

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