Taking your bicycle to work can be a great alternative to driving alone to work or replacing car trips to the store or a friend’s house.
It provides you flexibility and is a great way to incorporate some healthy exercise into your day. Though some people may bicycle as far as 20 miles, most people who use their bicycle for trips travel around 5 miles.
- Always wear your helmet.
- Stay off of the Sidewalk
Even though you may think the sidewalk is the safest place for you to be, it is actually a lot more dangerous than riding properly on the road. Because there are so many more conflict points riding on the sidewalk (cars turning, intersections to cross, people walking, etc.), statistics show that the safest place for you to ride is on the road, moving with traffic.
- Keep your bicycle in good working condition
Inspect your brakes, tires, pedals, seats, and handlebars regularly to make sure that everything is in good shape and functioning properly.
- Obey traffic laws
For information on bicycle related laws see an overview of Washington State laws relating to bicycling here or laws pertaining to the City of Portland and the State of Oregon at their website.
- Be Visible
Ride out in the travel lane, out of the way of sight blocking items liked parked cars. Try to wear bright clothing and use headlights and taillights when riding at night.
- Be Predictable
Ride your bicycle in a steady line without weaving in and out. This allows oncoming and/or overtaking drivers to better anticipate your travel path.
Use the proper hand signals when turning and slowing down and make eye contact with drivers.
For more information on how to ride safely check out these links:
Once you have found a bicycle that will best suit your needs, there are other items you should consider purchasing to make your trips easier.
Using a helmet when you ride can reduce the severity of injury if you are in a collision and can save your life. Roughly 75 percent of cyclist deaths are due to people not wearing a helmet. Remember that a helmet will only protect as well as it fits.
Headlights and Taillights
Headlights are required by law when traveling at night, and even though only a red reflector is required for a taillight, it is extremely beneficial to have a full working taillight, too.
Lights available vary greatly based on quality, mounting design, amount of light they supply, and their running time. They are split into three groups: non-rechargeable headlights; rechargeable headlights, and generator powered headlights. A local bicycle shop is the best place for you to get the information you need to find the right lights for you.
U-locks are the strongest and most theft-resistant locks you can purchase, but they can be heavy and inflexible. Options for using a U-lock are to leave it at your workplace or a constant location you park your bike, rather than carrying it around. You can then use a cable-lock for other quick trips or errands.
Cable-locks can offer more flexibility and are lighter weight, but they are also less secure. Consider purchasing a cable-lock with a built-in lock rather than using a padlock. With built-in locks you can choose a style that has a combination lock or key lock.
Additional Items to consider
Room to carry items on your bicycle is important to keep in mind. Using a backpack or over-the-shoulder bag is an option that many people choose, but some find they can cause too much strain or extra sweat. Other options include panniers or a folding bag that attaches to a rack on the back of your bicycle. These can provide waterproof, sealed compartments for carrying all of your items.
Many people feel comfortable riding a bicycle in regular clothing. If you have a really long distance to ride or want to make sure you don’t sweat in your clothes, then consider purchasing specific clothing for bicycling. This can include gloves, shorts/pants, shoes, and shirts.
Consider purchasing fenders, mirrors, and specialized tires. These can make your ride so much better and also improve your safety.
Choosing a Route
When considering which route to take, try your hardest not to think like a driver. In some cases, the easiest, safest, and most direct way to get to your destination is the same route you would normally drive your car on. But a lot of times, there are other alternatives that are safer, have much less traffic, and can actually save you time.
Below are some links to resources that will provide maps of routes and facilities:
Vancouver/Clark County Bike Map
A map of bicycle routes, facilities, and trails in the Clark County and City of Vancouver urban area. Maps are available at City offices and local bike shops. (360) 487-28
I-5 Bridge Map
A map of how to go from downtown Vancouver across the I-5 bridge, through Jantzen Beach, and into Delta Park.
I-205 Bridge Map
A map of how to go across the I-205 bridge from Portland and Vancouver.
City of Vancouver Parks and Recreation Trail Maps
Maps of all the trails in Clark County , as well as information on local and regional parks.
City of Portland Maps
A collection of maps for the City of Portland bicycle network, and maps of how to cross the I-205 and I-5 bridges on bike.
Metro Bike There Map
A bicycle map of the Portland metropolitan area – covers from Troutdale to Forest Grove, Wilsonville to Vancouver. The eighth edition map is printed on durable, waterproof paper and sells for $9.
Combining Bicycle and Transit
When a trip seems too long to ride with your bicycle all the way, or if there is a portion of your ride that may not provide a safe or comfortable route, you can combine your bicycle trip with the bus. All C-TRAN and TriMet buses are equipped with bicycle racks available on first come, first served basis. The racks can hold two bicycles at a time. C-TRAN has additional information for bikes on buses.
All C-TRAN and TriMet buses are equipped with bike racks. Loading your bike on the bus is easy.
If you would rather leave your bike behind try a bike locker for safe, weatherproof storage. Lockers may be rented for three (3) or six (6) month periods, at a low monthly rate. In addition to the monthly rental fee, a non-refundable cleaning fee, plus a refundable key deposit is charged to any new user at the beginning of their term. The key deposit is refunded once the agreement is terminated and the key has been returned to C-TRAN. If the key is not returned, the key deposit is forfeited. If a customer terminates their agreement prior to the end of its term, C-TRAN will refund any remaining full month rental fees, plus the key deposit once the key has been returned.
Call (360) 695-0123 or e-mail to inquire about bicycle locker availability at the location most convenient for your use.
Bicycle lockers are located at:
- Downtown Vancouver
- 99th Street Transit Center at Stockford Village
- Vancouver Mall Transit Center
- Fisher’s Landing Transit Center
- Salmon Creek Park & Ride
- Camas Transfer Center
Bring it on the bus
On the TriMet system you can bring your bicycle with you onto the buses, MAX trains, and the Portland Streetcar. TriMet buses are outfitted with bicycle racks on the front of the buses and there are racks to hang your bicycle at designated spots on MAX and the Portland Streetcar.
Only conventional single seat, two-wheeled bikes, and recumbent and electric bikes the size of a standard bicycle are allowed. Bicycles with oversized wheels, tandems, and internal combustion engine-powered bicycles are not allowed.
You can ride your bicycle across the I-205 or I-5 bridges to access the MAX light rail system or other bus routes. The City of Vancouver provides a map of how to navigate the I-5 bridge route and the City of Portland provides a map of how to navigate the I-205 Bridge Map.