Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Getting back out on your Bike!

Late winter into early spring weather is a great time to get brave if your bike has been in the garage and get out rolling again. Getting out with kids is especially fun if they have been inside all winter. Dusting off their bikes and heading to the playground or park to practice riding is a great way to get moving again. If you had a baby last fall and you have been waiting to take them out it’s a great time to look for a baby seat to tuck them into for those first special rides — see if you can get that baby seat on one of your old familiar bikes.

Here is our getting through the last weeks of winter into (wet sometimes freezing) spring top six to do list!

1. Pack your pannier or backpack if it’s been gathering dust.
Snacks, diapers, extra clothes, some useful tools and extra tubes, first aid kit, gloves and hats and extra warm layers in the bag can keep you ready to stay out in the fluctuating warmth of these winter/spring days.  Our getting dressed label on the right has tips for getting your kids dressed to ride. Look at this post for a start. Don't forget a raincoat.

2. Check your bike out to see if it needs some attention. 
Get an early tune-up at one of the terrific small local bike stores around town while it’s still cold, before the mad rush. Some have special low prices for tune-ups in winter, so hurry. Adjust your kids’ bike seats so they fit again, pump up their tires, check their brakes, make sure they’re visible. If somebody has grown enough to need a different bike, try Working Bikes or the Recyclery for good, inexpensive used kids bikes.

3. Choose some favorite places to make a trip or two on your bike this week.
It’s still pretty quiet on the road compared to later in the warmer weeks of spring. It’s a good time to get out for some warmish, quiet rides while you can have the road to yourselves. Pack up and ride to the library, bookstore or coffee shop to get out a little and then have a break where there are bathrooms and hot drinks. Get bold and dress warm for a trip to school in the morning air. Or be really wild and take your bikes on the train or bus to the lakefront and take a spin on the Lakefront Path in the late winter hush.

4. If you are getting back out with your kids, practice stops, starts and intersections in a safe comfortable park or campus. Use these sunny late winter days to get out in the air and practice turns and stops so that you are ready when it’s warmer to really head off. 

5. Find other family riders to have bike fun with! Invite some other families to go for a little ride together or meet at a special destination. Check out the Kidical Mass link on our site to see when the rides will meet.

6. Log on to the new Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “Accessible City” site and ask for more kid friendly bike infrastructure in our fair city. Make a few suggestions about the specific places where you wish to see changes in your neighborhood. We’d like a path in out neighborhood that’s separated from car traffic, like the Lakefront Path, but along a major street. What changes would get you, your kids, and your neighbors out on your bikes more?

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