Riding a bike is not only fun, but it is a great way to get around town to complete essential errands, boost physical and mental health, and strengthen your immune system while maintaining social distancing.
Whether you are new to riding a bike or a seasoned bike commuter, below are essential tips and tricks to get you rolling.
Get ready to ride
Before hitting the road, check to make sure everything on your bike is in working order. From a Basic Bike Check to the perfect helmet fit, what to wear, and how to shift, this League of American Bicyclists overview outlines all the essentials.
- You can perform simple bike maintenance at home, like pumping your tires, fixing a flat, and adjusting your brakes.
- You can also take your bike to a local bike shop to get tuned up or adjusted. Bike shops in Atlanta are considered essential businesses, so most are still open and operating with new social distancing procedures. Check out this list of metro ATL bike shops.
- Don’t want to visit a shop? Velofix is a mobile bike shop that comes to you. They offer no contact maintenance and repair appointments.
Want to ride but don’t own a bike?
- Buy a bike
- We recommend buying your first bike at a local shop so you can get personalized advice about bike fit and the type of bike that will best suit your needs. Here’s the list of metro ATL bike shops again.
- Borrow a bike from a friend
- Rent a bike
- Get matched with a free bike
- Bike Match Atlanta - If you need to make essential trips, Atlanta Bicycle Coalition can help match you with a free bike. They are also accepting donations of ready-to-ride bikes.
- Bonus option: go electric!
- Electric bikes are a great option for those who want to give their ride an extra boost. Their battery-powered assist helps riders all over town conquer those infamous Atlanta hills. Check out this awesome video about e-bikes from The Verge.
Join Atlanta Bicycle Coalition to unlock great member benefits, including discounts on bikes and accessories.
Ride with confidence
There are some essential riding skills that are great to practice when you’re getting back to biking. Having confidence in your braking, turning, and observing the other people, cars, and bikes around you will help you feel confident and comfortable during your ride.
Our friends over at Ride Healthy have put together a great guide to help you Master the Art of the Bike. The guide covers shifting gears, positioning on the road, and avoiding the dreaded “door zone.”
Remember you have the right to ride your bike in the street just like anyone riding in a car! Just keep these safety tips in mind:
- Be predictable, alert, visible, and assertive (but not aggressive)
- Be aware of driveways and intersections when you are riding in the street
- Obey all traffic signs and signals
- Signal all your turns and stops
- Yield to pedestrians
- Use front white and rear red lights
Take a free class with Atlanta Bicycle Coalition to help hone your two-wheel skillset. ABC is now offering virtual classes to help you complete essential trips to the grocery store, pharmacy, and more.
Find a route
Sometimes the shortest route to your destination may also be the busiest, most hilly, or has fast car traffic. For a better experience, look for roads that are less direct options and may have a lot of cross streets, run through slower neighborhoods, or will otherwise have slower moving traffic.
- Use Google Maps
- Identify dedicated bike routes or facilities with the Google Maps’ bike route feature: Routes with dedicated facilities (like multi-use paths, bike lanes, or cycletracks) will likely be the most pleasant to ride on, especially if you’re new to biking.
- Try out a PATH Trail
- The PATH Foundation has built many miles of dedicated bike lanes and paths across the Atlanta region. View the interactive regional map here.
- Don’t crowd the BeltLine
- The Atlanta BeltLine has released new social distancing guidelines. Review the guidelines before taking your bike out on the BeltLline.
- After 2pm, the trail should be used only for work and emergency-related travel
- Ask Downtown Connects
- Now is the perfect time to practice a new bike commute Downtown before traffic fully starts back up
- Email our team at Connects@AtlantaDowntown.com for a custom route plan
Secure your ride
- Create a bike profile
- Save your bike’s serial number somewhere you won’t lose it along with a photo and description. That way if it gets stolen, you can provide the information to the authorities to help them track it down.
- Choose the right lock
- While there many kinds of bike locks available, but most cyclists swear by u-locks
- If you buy a new lock, many lock brands allow you to register the lock online. That way, if you lose your keys a lot like I do, the company can send you a replacement key.
- Some brands also offer anti-theft warranties, so make sure to do some research before choosing your lock.
- Lock up in a secure area
- When locking up your bike away from home, look for a solid object in a well-lit area that can’t be picked up or cut
- And whatever you do, don’t only lock up the front wheel!
- This fun video from the Active Transportation Alliance is full of tips on how to NOT get your bike stolen
Bike + transit trips
Bicycling and transit go together like peas and carrots. Okay, that was corny, but you know what we mean--they make a great pair! MARTA is one of the most bike-friendly transit agencies in the nation. Every bus has a front bike rack and you are able to take your bike on the train any time of day.
- Use ATLTransit Trip Planner to plan your combined bike and transit trip. You have the option to personalize your bike trip by the quickest, flattest, or most bike-friendly route.
- To learn more about bringing your bike on MARTA, click here.*
*Transit providers are operating on modified service schedules due to COVID-19. View a full list of service updates on our website.
Make it fun
Atlanta has an amazing bike community. Just because you are riding alone doesn’t mean you have to go it alone!
- Apps like Love to Ride and Strava let you log your trips, set goals, cheer on your friends, and compete against other riders (only if you want to!)
- If you’re on Facebook, there are several ATL biking groups, including Bike Commuters of Atlanta, Critical Mass – Atlanta, and All-Atlanta Random Rides Club.
We can’t wait to be back together with you all Downtown soon. Until then, stay safe and enjoy the ride!
Questions? Email us at Connects@AtlantaDowntown.com