Bicycling Basics

If you’re new to bicycling, or starting to ride again after a long hiatus, set yourself up for success by going over some basic information:

Start Slow:

If it’s been a while since you’ve been on your bike, make sure to go on a few short rides around your neighborhood before you venture out further. Even if you’re already in good shape, riding a bike uses different muscles than other exercises, and your body will need time to adjust. Take it nice and easy to start off with, and have fun!

Know the Rules of the Road:

When you’re riding your bike on the street, you have to follow traffic laws just like any other vehicle. It is illegal and unsafe not to do so. If you don’t already know them, or need a refresher, make sure to check out the bicycle codes and laws for Austin.

Know Good Routes:

Knowing good routes to take is a simple but important part of a safe, fun bike ride. If you’re just beginning, stick to neighborhood streets with fewer cars and slower traffic. Once you’re ready to venture further, use the City of Austin’s Bicycle Map or an online route finding tool to help identify the best routes. Both Google Maps and Ride the City Austin are easy to use online maps that will help you get where you want to go. Always remember, the best route by car might not be the best by bicycle.

Take A Bicycling Safety Class:

Nothing builds your ability and confidence to safely navigate Austin by bike like taking a course. Bike Austin offers top-notch courses for people of all ages and abilities. If you feel you’re too busy to take a class, ia great online cycling education course is available. This course was developed by Austin’s own Allan Dunlop.

Helpful Equipment:

The beauty of bicycling is that it’s simple, fun, and easy. A properly functioning bike and a little balance is all you need to get started. That said, the following items can come in handy and lead to an even better bicycling experience:

  • Water bottle: Always stay well hydrated while riding. Having a water bottle with you keeps water within reach wherever you are. If you’re not using any type of bag, you can purchase a water bottle cage that attaches to your bike. They’re inexpensive and can be found at any local bike shop.
  • Pump: A portable pump that fits in your bag or attaches to your bike is very helpful, in case you get a flat or a slow leak. Riding on low tires is unpleasant, potentially dangerous, and can make it easier to get a flat. Simple portable pumps are inexpensive and can be purchased from any local bike shop.
  • Helmet: A properly fitted helmet can help protect your most vital organ in the case of a crash. The City of Austin requires a helmet for anyone under the age of 18 operating a bicycle.
More Resources:

Have a look at our Bicycling Resources page for more information.