A Few Basic Tips for Bay Area Bike to Work Day

A cyclist takes the green bike lane on Market Street. (San Francisco Bicycle Coalition/Flickr )

Pump up your tires, check your brakes and test those lights. Thursday, May 12, is the 22nd annual Bay Area Bike to Work Day. If you ever thought about saddling up for your morning commute, Thursday is probably the ideal day to take your bike out for a spin.

In  recent years, Bay Area cities have installed bike lanes and paths along busy streets — and bridges more recently. These routes will be dotted with approximately 400 energizer stations complete with mechanics, coffee, snacks and workshops on safety.

Hallie Baron, of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, estimates between 70,000 and 100,000 riders across the Bay Area's nine counties will participate.

"It's a day to celebrate long-term bike commuters because of the impact they've had on their personal health and the environment," Baron said. "Most importantly, it's a day to encourage people who want to try it for the first time."

The health and environmental impacts of commuting on two wheels are multifaceted. But Baron says it's also important to keep safety in mind. Here are a few basic tips for first-time riders:

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Map your route: Baron suggests mapping out a commute with routes that use only bike lanes. If that's not an option, consider biking part way. "You could bike from your house to the bus," she says.

Stay aware: Whatever you do, Baron says, do not wear earbuds. Practice paying attention to your surroundings, "Being aware of what's going on around you is very important as a cyclist. You have to be very defensive." It will make it a much more pleasant experience, she says.

Make sure your bicycle is in good condition: "The only thing that really impacts your ride to work is having a bicycle that is in shape." To ensure a pleasant ride, make sure your bike fits you properly and go in for a tuneup every year. Because if it falls apart on you in the middle of your commute, you're kind of stuck.