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Tips and Tricks: Get Ready for Bike To Work Day 2017

If you’re not a regular bike commuter, here are some tips to help you get ready to ride:

1. Make sure your bike fits you properly. Bike size, saddle height and forward/backward position and handlebar height all play key parts in making you comfortable on your bike. If you know someone who can help you with all those measurements, great. If not, your local bike shop can easily help you get a great fit.

2. Get comfortable riding your bike. For many new cyclists, the biggest challenge is just getting comfortable riding – not to mention riding in traffic. Start by riding on quiet streets or empty parking lots, and then test out your skills riding with car traffic. Take it slow and steady and you’ll get the hang of it easily.

3. Remember the rules of the road. Bikes are subject to the same traffic rules as cars. That means stopping at traffic lights and stop signs, yielding to pedestrians, using “turn” signals to indicate where you’re going, etc. And be very aware of what drivers, other cyclists and pedestrians are doing. That’ll keep you safe and make your ride lots of fun.

Riders pose in front of an Energize Station on Bike to Work Day 2013 in Contra Costa County, CA4. Ride with friends or colleagues. One of the best ways to get into the groove of riding is to ride with others. Have friends who already ride regularly? Ask them to help you train. Have colleagues who ride to work? See if you can ride with them. They can all teach you some of the tricks to safe, fun riding and help you build your confidence in the meantime.

5. Be safe. Riding at night? Be sure to “light up” – flashers on the back, lights on the front – so you can be seen coming and going. How about a little extra protection just in case? Gloves for your hands, helmet for your head. If you happen to fall – even at a very slow speed – you’ll be glad to have coverage to absorb the impact.

6. Carrying your stuff. There are lots of ways to carry your stuff to work. Give it some thought so you can pick the one that you like best. From knapsacks to rear racks to front baskets and much more, how you carry your stuff is as individual as you are.

Now it’s time to get out there and ride. We’ll see you on Bike To Work Day!


This post originally appeared on the blog at YouCanBikeThere.com. Click here for more information on Bike To Work Day.

Keep It Simple: Easy Prep for Bike To Work Day 2016

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If you’re still on the fence about biking to work, or are biking but worried about forgetting some vital piece of gear, we’ve got 4 tips to help make it a low-stress Bike To Work Day! These suggestions originally appeared in a Time.com article promoting Bike To Work Day 2015 and they’re worthy of a re-post:
Don’t get overwhelmed with tons of gear. It’s a good idea for anyone who rides a bike to know how to patch a tire. But if you get a flat and you aren’t sure how to fix it you are most like going to call somebody to pick you up. The point is that it’s not necessary to get bogged down loading up with gear in anticipation of every potential pitfall during a cycling commute.
Bike to Work Day 2015Forget cycling apparel. Wear a helmet. Other than that, no other bikewear is necessary, assuming your commute isn’t 30 miles of windy hills. “You don’t have to wear special cycling gear in order to ride a bike, everyday clothes work just fine,” advises the League of American Bicyclists. “If your bike doesn’t have a chain guard, you can keep your pants away from the chain by rolling up your pant leg or using a leg band.”
Plot the most sensible route. If your bicycling commute route isn’t obvious, do a little research. The shortest ride by distance is not necessarily the easiest or smartest way to go. It’s often worth it to go a bit out of your way to hook up with trails and other paths reserved for non-automobile traffic, or at least to ride on roads with dedicated bike lines or extra-wide shoulders. [Editor’s Note: We suggest trying 511CC’s Bike Mapper to plan your route to work.]
Bike to Work Day 2015Scope out the basics ahead of time. Get a good lock and know where you’re going to park your bike during the work day. Figure out the options for grabbing a shower, or at least washing up after the commute. Perhaps there is a gym nearby to negotiate a shower fee with, or maybe there are showers at the office office.
Bike To Work Day is about having fun getting to work, so if you’ve got a bicycle, a helmet and the desire to bike to work, you can do this!
For additional information and resources, visit our Bike To Work Day page.

Senior Drivers: Ways to Improve Your Driving Safety

As we get older, physical changes occur which can impact our safety behind the wheel. The good news is there are steps we can take to remain safer drivers even as we age. Thanks to the Pleasant Hill Commission on Aging, here are some helpful suggestions for senior drivers. If you’re not a senior driver but have a parent or friend who is, consider sharing these suggestions with them:

1. VISION – 90% of the information you use while driving is visual. This makes it important to:
•Adjust mirrors properly before you start to drive.
•Check your rearview mirror every 10-20 seconds.
•Turn and look over your shoulder when changing lanes.
•Avoid night driving.
2. MEMORY and ATTENTION – Eliminating distractions that take your eyes or mind off the road is useful at any age. To improve your focus and reduce distractions:
•Put your sunglasses where you can easily reach them.
•Know where you are going before you start.
•Turn the radio off and keep conversations to a minimum.
•Drive on familiar roads to reduce stress.
hikingpoles3. STRENGTH & ENDURANCE – Regular exercise helps lower the incidence of memory loss and physical disability:
•Continue the exercise habit; take regular walks.
•Contact the Senior Center, YMCA, or Recreation & Park District about exercise options.
•Get plenty of sleep and rest.
•Ask your health care provider about any health concerns before starting your routine.
4. STAY INFORMED ON HEALTH CONDITIONS & MEDICATION CHANGES
•Ask your doctor or pharmacist about side-effects or negative drug interactions that may affect your driving.
•Be sure you know how you react to a medication before getting behind the wheel.
5. CHECK OUT YOUR CAR – The safer your vehicle, the safer you are on the road. Plus, not having to worry about the reliability of your car reduces your stress while driving:
•Maintain the correct fluid levels and air pressure in the tires.
•Promptly repair any damage that could influence driving safety (e.g. cracked windshield, broken mirror, burned out light).
•Participate in a CarFit event (the next one is May 2 in Pleasant Hill).
 
Images courtesy National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, National Institutes of Health

When is idling wasteful?

Idling, or letting the engine run while the car is parked, is a  point of argument. How long is too long? At what point does the engine use more gas than if you just turned off the engine and restarted?
Families, couples, and friends go back and forth on this, with everyone quoting different statistics and numbers. Here’s the straight truth – idling uses more fuel than you think. The general rule of thought is that if you are are waiting more than 10 seconds it’s more cost effective and cleaner to turn off your engine and restart.
Here are three busted myths from the Hinkle Charitable Foundation, an environmental advocacy group.

Myth 1: Cars should run in an idling mode for several minutes before being driven.

Wrong. Modern engines do not need more than a few seconds of idling time before they can be driven safely. Moreover, the best way to warm up a car is to drive it, since that warms up the catalytic converter and other mechanical parts of the car, in addition to the engine.

Myth 2: Each time you start your car you waste more gasoline than if you let it idle.

Wrong. Automotive engines do not operate efficiently when they idle. Experts say there is a maximum 10 second break-even rule. If you are idling longer than 10 seconds, both you and the engine are better off if the engine is turned off and restarted.

Myth 3: Repeatedly restarting your car is hard on the engine and quickly drains the battery.

Wrong. Frequently restarting your engine does negligible damage to the engine and does not drain modern batteries excessively. In fact, the opposite is true; idling an engine forces it to operate in a very inefficient and gasoline-rich mode that, over time, can degrade the engine’s performance.
Continue reading “When is idling wasteful?”