June is Bike Month, a time when summer weather beckons us to enjoy the simple freedom of riding a bicycle.
Edmontonians in the Rat Creek area are fortunate to live in a flat, compact neighbourhood well suited for cyclists. We have a variety of local shops and tree-lined streets that make short trips for errands a pleasure. Within a kilometre of my home, I’m blessed with multiple grocery stores, restaurants and parks, plus a recreation centre and library. Visiting these places by bicycle is quick and easy.
One of the joys of bicycling is how affordable it is. Almost any bike will do for getting around town. There may already be a bike in your garage. If it needs a tune-up, take it to BikeWorks at 93 Street and 111 Avenue. The volunteers of the Edmonton Bicycle Commuters Society (EBC) are happy to help budding cyclists get their bikes road ready and teach you basic maintenance.
They even have a wide selection of used bicycles for sale as low as $10 and will help you find one to fit any size rider and riding style. This past winter, I rode a beater mountain bike I bought from BikeWorks for $60. I souped it up with some studded winter tires and fenders and it easily handled the snow and ice.
Ideally, all our roads would be bicycle-friendly. In reality, many roads are not welcoming to cyclists, which makes careful route choice important. With a little planning and helpful tools like Google Maps, it’s easy to find routes that take advantage of quiet side streets and trails while avoiding busy thoroughfares.
For example, instead of biking along busy Norwood Boulevard (111 Avenue) or 115 Avenue, take laidback 114 Avenue. It extends from the LRT trail near 82 Street to 106 Street and the bike route parallels the Metro Line. Additionally, 92 Street is a great north-south route extending all the way to Jasper Avenue and connects with the LRT trail for easy access to downtown. If you’re curious about a new route, check Google Maps or drive it first, though many of the best routes are in parks and trails where cars are not allowed.
Keeping safe while biking is simple. Follow the rules of the road, signal before you turn and make sure other road users see you by using a bell and lights. A helmet is required for riders under 18 and it’s a good idea for adults, too. Check your brakes frequently to ensure they have enough stopping power and keep your tires inflated. If your bike hasn’t been ridden in awhile, ensure the wheels are straight and the chain is oiled and free of debris.
Edmonton’s cold winters deter many people from cycling and encourage habits that keep people in their cars year-round. Winter cycling isn’t for everyone, but it’s easy with the right gear. With winter still months away, embrace summer and enjoy the pleasure and freedom of bicycling. In a few months, read the Rat Creek Press for information on how to transition into winter cycling.
Visit EBC’s BikeWorks North for affordable bicycles and bike parts, and maybe even learn how to fix your ride!
Visit: 9305 – 111 Ave
Header Image: These cyclists are correctly signalling a left turn on 92 Street. Credit: Eric Grant