Now’s a Great Time to Rediscover Your Bike

There’s a reason people say things are just like getting on a bike again. Though first learning to bike is frustrating, most of us master it when we are very young. Even if you haven’t been on a bike in years, it is something you can easily pick up again, no matter your age.

Aside from the fact that it is something you likely already know how to do, it is also good for you. Riding a bike not only burns calories, it also provides health benefits. It helps tone and strengthen muscles that you don’t use every day, is good for your heart and easier on your joints than weight-bearing exercises. Many people with knee problems report that bicycling is a great way to get outside and exercise without adding stress to an already weakened joint.

The Philadelphia area has just about any biking terrain you might want and in fact has has been called one of the best biking cities in America. Aside from bike lanes on some city streets (more than 435 miles worth), there are also a number of multi-use trails (two are along the city’s rivers) as well as hundreds of miles of off-road park trails. These multi-use trails are expanding in both length and number and are especially good for those who are not comfortable riding on roads with traffic or on the rugged terrain of park trails.The suburbs only add to the possibilities. The Rails to Trails Conservancy has been working with communities since 1986 to develop no-longer-used rail corridors into usable pathways for people to enjoy. Area trail surfaces range from crushed stone, gravel, grass, sand or dirt to fully paved trails (some are a combination of these). The Conservancy’s TrailLink site can help you find one suitable for your needs. When complete, the Circuit Trails network will connect 750 miles of multi-use trails in the Philadelphia area.

If you don’t have your own bike, there are many places you can rent one before making the decision to purchase. If you are going to invest in one, consider what sort of biking you want to do and do some research into the options. Today there are a multitude of options at many price points. Be sure to get a bike that fits you. If you are not sure how to do this, ask an expert for help.

Keep safety in mind.

Wear a helmet. About 85 percent of biking-related deaths are due to head injuries. Wear bright clothing and try to avoid traveling by bike at night. If you have to ride at night, wear reflective clothing and use head and rear lights. Try to avoid biking in bad weather or on roads during rush hour. Remember that bicycles must follow the same rules of the road as cars and that stop signs and traffic signals apply to all. Wear closed shoes, not sandals and avoid loose clothing that can get caught in the spokes and cause a fall or injury. As with all activities, it is a good idea to let someone else know where you will be going and when you expect to return.

While you can enjoy most of these trails by foot, a bike allows you to go further and travel faster. Like hiking, biking can take you to places off the grid where cars and other vehicles can’t go. Also unlike traveling by foot, biking virtually ensures you will stay unplugged and enjoy your surroundings. If you still need convincing, the International Bicycle Fund has put together this list of 60+ Benefits of Bicycling.