Make Bike Shifting Your Friend with Steve Offutt

Understanding how shifting works on your bike will make you a better, more confident and more comfortable bike rider. Join WABA Instructor, Steve Offutt, as he breaks down the process of shifting, identifies parts of the drive train and answers all of your questions to improve your next ride.

This webinar is FREE to join. Invite friends and family members and be sure to bring plenty of questions!

Tune in on Zoom

Add to your calendar by clicking here.

Click here to join the Zoom meeting!

Meeting ID: 935 7872 4265   PIN: bike

Make Bike Shifting Your Friend with Steve Offutt

Understanding how shifting works on your bike will make you a better, more confident and more comfortable bike rider. Join WABA Instructor, Steve Offutt, as he breaks down the process of shifting, identifies parts of the drive train and answers all of your questions to improve your next ride.

This webinar is FREE to join. Invite friends and family members and be sure to bring plenty of questions!

Tune in on Zoom

Add to your calendar by clicking here.

Click here to join the Zoom meeting!

Meeting ID: 963 0537 2251   PIN: bike

Bike Buying 101 with Robyn Short

What kind of bike should I buy? Should I buy new or used? How does bike sizing work? Where should I purchase? How do I shop during this pandemic? I’m new to riding and there are so many options, WHERE DO I START???

If you have asked yourself any of these questions, this webinar is for you! Join WABA Instructor and Black Women Bike member, Robyn, as she discusses everything you’ve ever wanted to know about buying a bike. She’ll simplify your research process to narrow down your options and identify the benefits, perils, and hidden costs of each. She’ll also discuss how to adjust your bike shopping process during the pandemic.

This webinar is FREE to join. Invite friends and family members and be sure to bring plenty of questions!

Tune in on Zoom

Add to your calendar by clicking here.

Click here to join the Zoom meeting!

Meeting ID: 965 2864 4191      Password: bike

Bike Buying 101 with Robyn Short

What kind of bike should I buy? Should I buy new or used? How does bike sizing work? Where should I purchase? How do I shop during this pandemic? I’m new to riding and there are so many options, WHERE DO I START???

If you have asked yourself any of these questions, this webinar is for you! Join WABA Instructor and Black Women Bike member, Robyn, as she discusses everything you’ve ever wanted to know about buying a bike. She’ll simplify your research process to narrow down your options and identify the benefits, perils, and hidden costs of each. She’ll also discuss how to adjust your bike shopping process during the pandemic.

This webinar is FREE to join. Invite friends and family members and be sure to bring plenty of questions!

Tune in on Zoom

Add to your calendar by clicking here!

Click here to join the Zoom meeting!

Meeting ID: 994 5991 2010   Password: bike

MetroWest Biking Basics Webinar

WABA is excited to partner with Connections at MetroWest to offer residents a lesson on biking basics! We’ll give you the low down on trail etiquette, how to prepare for your ride, rules of the road, and more. MetroWest residents have hundreds of miles of trails right outside your front door. With summer just around the corner, now is the perfect time to get outside and ride!

This webinar will be hosted on Zoom and is completely FREE for MetroWest residents. Just sign up using the registration portal below.

This online class is brought to you thanks to the generous support of the Connections at MetroWest program!

Add to your calendar by clicking here!

Click here to join the Zoom meeting!

Meeting ID: 996 0526 2142 PIN: bike

How to Ride a Bike

Learning to ride a bike can seem nerve wracking. Ask anyone around you and they  likely will share stories of falling and scraped knees. But they will also tell you about taking those first few exhilarating pedals and the joy and weightlessness of gliding on your bike!

For generations, people have used the “toss em’ into the deep end” approach when teaching others how to ride a bike. They may get bumps and bruises along the way, but eventually they learn to ride a bike.

Riding a bike is a lot easier than you think! WABA’s Learn to Ride classes take an easier approach, breaking down the process into three easy to follow steps. We are so confident that our technique works that we are happy to share our methods with you to try out at home. You can use these to teach yourself how to ride or to teach others, including kids!

What You’ll Need

  • A bike – we recommend one that has you sitting upright. 
  • A helmet 
  • A flat, wide open surface – like a parking lot or a quiet street 

Tip: If you don’t have a bike or helmet, our Learn to Ride classes are a great option since they include a bike and helmet rental.

Before You Get On Your Bike 

Before you get started, be sure to check out our tips on how to properly fit your helmet and size your bike.

How to Ride

Now, you are ready! You’ve got your helmet on, your bike properly fitted and you’re standing in a wide open parking lot, not a car in sight. The next thing to do is learn to ride a bike. Here are the three simple steps that our highly experienced instructors use at our Learn to Ride classes.

Step One: Learning to Glide 

In order for the bike to glide, you’ll have to first gain momentum. Sit on the saddle (just a fancy name for a seat) with your hands on the handlebars, fingers on your brakes, and your feet flat on the ground. Begin rocking back and forth, shifting your weight from your heels to the balls of your feet. The bike should move with you, but your feet should not leave the ground. Continue to rock, gaining a bit more speed as you push your weight backwards and forwards. When you are ready, push off the balls of your feet and glide forward. Kick your feet out on either side to help maintain balance. 

The goal is to be able to keep your feet up off of the ground for as long as you can. Once you start to slow down practice using your brakes. You should practice pressing down on the brakes to see how long it takes you to come to a complete stop. Once you are able to maintain a controlled glide across the length of a parking lot (a few hundred yards) you are ready to move on to step two! 

Tip: This is hard work! It is ok to take breaks or to split the step over a few hours our days!

Tip: This step can be easier if you take your pedals off. It prevents you from banging up your shins. 

Step Two: Finding the Pedals

Now that you are able to balance on a moving bike, let’s move on to gaining momentum. Bicycles are human powered machines. You use your legs (or hands if you are riding a hand-pedal bike!) to propel yourself forward. When you pedal, you  move the chain and gears that control the wheels. 

Sit on the saddle with your hands on the handlebars and fingers on the brakes. Using your dominant foot,move the pedal to the “2 o-clock” position. This is called Power Pedal Position – when you push down it will help you gain the most momentum. 

To start, push off and press down on the pedal. Kick your non-dominant foot out to the side to help maintain balance. As you begin to slow down, use your brakes to come to a complete stop. Reset your pedal until you are in the Power Pedal Position and do it all over again. Keep practicing until you are able to maintain a controlled glide across the parking lot. 

On your next glide, instead of kicking your non-dominant foot out to the side, try to find the pedal. With both feet on the pedals, each leg will take turns pushing down to help propel you forward. This step is tricky, but keep practicing over and over until you get it. 

Step Three: Pedaling in Control 

You’re doing it! You’ve learned to balance, gain momentum, and now you are able to pedal. The last step is putting it all together. Start at one end of the parking lot. Give yourself plenty of space to work with. Place your dominant foot on the pedal and your non-dominant foot on the ground. Push down the pedal and add your second foot as you move forward. The faster you pedal, the easier it is to stay upright. As you gain more control and confidence, you can practice riding in circles, making turns and coming to a controlled stop. More practice will help you get the hang of it, but stop for a second to congratulate yourself, because you just learned to ride a bike! 

Tip: Now that you know how to ride a bicycle, WABA’s City Cycling classes are a great way to boost your confidence and get you riding on trails or the road.

Get Help in Person!

Learning to ride by yourself or teach others can be hard. If you are struggling, we are here to help you! WABA’s Learn to Ride classes take the same easy, three-step approach. We provide the instruction, equipment and support you need to learn to ride in no time. We have classes for adults and youth across the Washington region from spring to fall. Classes start at $10!

How to Fit a Bike

A properly sized and fitted bike makes all the difference when riding. Bikes, like people, come in many different sizes and styles. Whether you are learning to ride for the first time, or purchasing a new bike, it helps to know what to look for! 

Finding the Right Size: 

Depending on the bike brand or shop, there are different ways to find the right size bike for you. Bike frames come in different sizes measured in inches that correlate to your height and inseam length. Different brands and bike shops may label their bike sizes using the frame size, height, or a general descriptive sizing such as “Small”, “Medium” or “Large”. Until you know your preferred frame size, it is easiest to “try on” bikes in person to see what is most comfortable for you. 

  • Stand over the top of the bike with your hands on the handlebars, both feet flat on the ground. 
  • If the bike is the right size, you should have no trouble straddling it. Both feet should be flat on the ground – no tip toes! – and the toptube (the one between the seat and the handlebars) should come between your legs, but should not touch you. 
  • Have a friend hold the handlebars for you and clench the front wheel between their legs – this will prevent you from rolling. 
  • Sit on the saddle with your hands on the handlebars and one foot on each pedal. Take a look at your elongated leg. You should notice a slight bend in the knee.

Adjusting Your Bike:

Once you find a general frame size that fits you, you may still need to make micro adjustments in order to fit comfortably on the bike. Parts of bikes, such as the handlebars and seat posts can be adjusted for a better fit. These components are locked in place either with a screw or with a quick release, a lever that can be loosened and tightened by hand. 

  • Let’s go back to that elongated leg. If your leg is completely straight with your foot on the pedal, your saddle might be too high. If your leg is considerably bent, your saddle might be too low. Adjust the seat post until you notice a slight bend in the leg. 
  • Place your feet on the ground while sitting in the saddle. It is alright if you need to be on your tip-toes in order to reach the ground from a seated position, although you should not have too much difficulty keeping upright. If it is hard for you to reach the ground while sitting in the saddle, lower the seat. If your feet are completely flat on the ground while sitting in the saddle, raise the seat. 
  • Depending on the position of your saddle, you may need to raise or lower the handlebars. Not all handlebars can be adjusted without professional assistance. Look for a screw that can be loosened with a screwdriver or wrench or a quick release similar to the one that you may have on your seat post. 
  • Your handlebars should be positioned so that you are not tilted too far forward or reaching up too high. Your elbows should have a slight bend and you should be able to look ahead comfortably. 
  • Handlebar placement can be a bit tricker to adjust correctly. You’ve already adjusted your seat, so your handlebar placement will depend on where you are sitting. Play around with different heights until you find one that feels most comfortable. Feel like you need a little extra help? Stop by a bike shop or ask a friend! 

With your bike properly sized and fitted, you’re ready to ride! Check out our blog post on how to do an ABC Quick Check to make sure your bike is ready too! Check out WABA’s Learn to Ride and Confident City Cycling classes for even more helpful tips.

How to Fit a Helmet

Helmets are a lot more than big styrofoam head buckets. They are an important piece of safety equipment and should fit properly in order to provide maximum protection! Depending on where you live and how old you are, you may be required to wear a helmet when riding a bike or scooter. If you are going to wear a helmet, either by choice or out of necessity, then you should learn how to fit one correctly and how to check to make sure it will protect your noggin!

  • Place your helmet flat on the top of your head. The helmet should come down over your forehead, but should not obstruct your vision. You should be able to place 2 fingers on your forehead between your eyebrows and the helmet. 
  • Tighten the helmet so it fits snugly around your head. Size adjusting dials or clasps are typically found on the back of the helmet right above the nape of the neck. 
  • Clip the helmet straps beneath your chin. Tighten the strap so that it fits snugly. You should only be able to fit one finger between the strap and your chin. Each strap has a “v” shape that comes down over the ears. Make sure that the “v” is even on both sides with your ear sitting in the center. 
  • Check to make sure your helmet is on correctly with a quick headbang! If the helmet doesn’t move, then you’re ready to ride (or for a lively concert!).

With your helmet safely fastened, you’re ready to ride! Check out our blog post on how to do an ABC Quick Check to make sure your bike is ready too! Check out WABA’s Learn to Ride and Confident City Cycling classes for even more helpful tips.

Where to Ride When There’s No Infrastructure

The bike lane is a truly magical thing. Dedicated space carved out of roadways reserved entirely for bicyclists (and scooters and wheelchairs as well)?! It seems too good to be true. In a world where most roads, heck, most cities are designed around cars, riding in a bike lane, especially a protected bike lane, can feel like a mini victory. 

But what happens when the bike lane ends? 

Although WABA dreams of a region with a connected, protected and equitable network of bike lanes and trails, the reality is that bike lanes end, trails putter off, and the bicyclist is left wondering “where to next?” The truth is, there is no definitive answer. It depends on a number of factors: road design, speed limit, your experience, and comfort level.

Your Skills and Experience

Anyone can learn to ride in traffic and develop the confidence and skills to do so safely, but knowing yourself and your limits is just as important. Being honest with yourself about your experience level is very important! No one is going to judge you for never having ridden in traffic before. Learning a new skill takes time and practice. Our Confident City Cycling classes are a great way to learn about how to ride with no or limited bicycling infrastructure. The class covers many of the topics below while on-bike and our instructors can answer any questions you have.

So What’s Next? 

Ready to ride in the road? First of all, know that you are allowed to be there! Bicycling is an important part of our region’s transportation system and bicyclists have just as much right to using our roadways as motorists do. When you ride, it is your responsibility to obey the law and keep yourself and the people around you safe. It is not your job to stay out of the way. When riding in traffic, be sure to do the following:

Follow the rules of the road

Bicycles are vehicles and should act as so when riding in the road. This means following all posted signs and signals and yielding to pedestrians. Do you know traffic law and the rules of the road? 

Be visible

Depending on the time of day, you may need to use additional equipment such as lights or high-visibility reflective clothing to help motorists see you. Check out these helpful tips on bike lights and how to stay visible.

Be predictable

Being predictable is the number one most important tip when riding in traffic. Sticking to a lane, riding in a controlled manner and signaling to communicate where you intend to move are ways to ride predictably and help motorists anticipate what you plan to do next. Check out this helpful video on how to scan and signal to communicate with motorists.

Taking the lane 

Bike lanes offer a clearly defined space for bicyclists to ride. When there is no bike lane or other bicycle infrastructure, it is up to the bicyclist to determine the safest part of the lane to ride. In this instance, “safest” means most visible to motorists while still allowing you to get where you need to go. 

In narrow lanes where there is not enough space for a bicycle and a vehicle to ride side by side, the safest course of action is to ride in the center, otherwise known as “taking the lane”. Taking the lane prevents motorists from trying to squeeze around you. It keeps you from riding in the gutter and also places you outside of the door zone. 

Sharing the lane

Sharing the lane is safest only when there is three feet of passing space on either side of you. Depending on how wide the lane is, you may be able to ride in the rightmost third of the lane while still keeping three feet of space between cars on your left and the door zone on your right. Typically, this requires that lanes be 14 feet wide or larger. Not enough space? Take the lane!

Right most lane that serves your destination

The safest place to ride in moving traffic is the rightmost lane serving your destination. Remember that most traffic laws state that slower moving traffic should stay to the right. This is the same for bicycles. Riding straight through an intersection? Stick to the right most lane. Need to make a left turn? In this case the left lane is the rightmost lane serving your destination. It all depends on where you’re going and how lanes are laid out. 

Assess Your Comfort Level 

Comfort level differs for each individual person and can even change depending on the day. Things that you feel comfortable doing largely depend on your experience, but can also be influenced by your location, weather, time of day, or how you are feeling at any particular moment. Ask yourself beforehand if you feel prepared or are in the mindset to ride in traffic. If you ever change your mind or feel uncomfortable riding in the road, you can always hop off of your bike and become a pedestrian or use transit. We can’t stress this enough! The beauty of bicycling is that you can stop whenever you want to.

We cover all of this and more in our Confident City Cycling classes!

Other considerations

Map out your route 

Mapping out your route is a great way to identify gaps ahead of time. It also allows you to find an alternative route that matches your comfort level. Google Maps is a great resource. To turn on the Bicycling view by accessing the options menu. Also check out our maps page.

Speed Limit

Not all roadways allow bicycles. High speed roads such as highways and major throughways often include signs that prohibit bicyclists or pedestrians from entering. Bicycles are typically allowed on roads with speed limits of 45 mph or less. But, even 45 mph can be fast for someone on a bike. Ask yourself if you are comfortable riding without infrastructure on a 45 mph road. What about 35 mph? 25? 

Width of Lanes 

The width of a traffic lane will often determine how fast vehicles are able to go. Wide lanes allow for higher speeds, while narrow lanes tend to slow traffic down quite a bit. The width of a traffic lane also helps bicyclists determine the safest position to ride in. 

Alternative Options 

If you feel uncomfortable riding in traffic or prefer to slow things down a bit, you can always hop on to a sidewalk! Depending on local bike laws, you may be able to ride your bike on the sidewalk as long as long as you go slow and give pedestrians the right of way. If you are not allowed to ride on the sidewalk, you can always walk your bike and act as a pedestrian!

Bicyclists have just as much right to the roads as drivers do. Protected bicycle lanes improve the safety and experience of riding in the road, but until we have a protected, connected and equitable network, it’s up to us to take riding safely into our own hands. WABA’s bicycle education classes teach you the skills you need to ride safely and confidently, even when there is no infrastructure. Donate today to help us reach our 20×20 goals and bring more bicycle infrastructure to a street near you!

Online How to: Riding in Traffic

Streets aren’t just for cars, bikes belong too! Join us for a lesson on how to ride in traffic and take your riding to the next level. You will learn how to prepare for your ride, where to ride in the road, communicating with motorists and how to build confidence! All participants will receive a coupon for a FREE Confident City Cycle class. Be sure to tune in and bring plenty of questions!

Hosted by Sydney Sotelo, WABA’s Adult Education Coordinator.

This online class is brought to you thanks to the generous support of the DC Department of Transportation.

Add to your calendar by clicking here.

Click here to join the Zoom meeting!

Meeting ID: 932-0980-4359 PIN: 135380