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10 Tips for Safe to School Cycling

With school starting back up, tons of people are thinking transportation and asking, “Can I ride to class?” The short answer is, “Of course!” The long answer is that it’s easy to bike almost everywhere as long as you’re prepared. So let’s take a couple minutes to talk bike-commuting prep and what you can do to make this school year a two-wheeled success!

  1. What to Pack

What you need to bring will likely depend on the distance of your ride and the facilities at your school, but there are a few things you should never leave home without. Phone, cash, and ID are all at the top of that list. Kind of a no-brainer in the 21st century, but you just don’t want to be anywhere without a way to call a friend or check a map, and you’ll never regret the $5 bill tucked in the end of your bars when you need to snag a snack between classes (or owe some money on that library book).

Repair Kit Speaking of flats, I never ride without all the fixin’s to repair a flat on the road; wrenchtire leverspatch kitspare tube, and pump. You can technically choose either the patch kit or the spare tube if space is an issue but, if you plan on making your commute regularly, the patch kit and pump will be life-savers someday and having spares is great because nothing matches the test-day karma-boost of getting another classmate rolling again on your way in for the final!

Bike Lock –  this will keep your bike safe for the ride home. 

  1. Water & Food

Take a bottle of water and make sure you stay well hydrated during your ride. If you’re going for a long ride take extra water and some snacks along to give you energy for your journey! 

  1. What to Wear

Helmet -Wear a well fitted helmet. Wearing a helmet not only looks great – it prevents head injuries – so having a well fitted one is vital for any bike rider. Helmets should sit two finger widths from your eyebrows and should fit firmly enough on your head that it won’t move around.

Clothing -The next bit you want to consider is clothing and personal goods. You don’t need to get all kitted up in Lycra for a 20-minute commute, but the breathability, comfort, and sweat-wicking magic of cycling clothes certainly makes them appealing if you’ve got a longer ride. If you take it easy in street clothes, you’ll likely arrive sweat-free anyway, and you can always bring a clean shirt if you think you’ll need one. Most people will find they’re fine just taking 10 minutes to cool down before popping into class.

That said, some riders will pack a stick of deodorant and pack of baby wipes to freshen up quickly on those super hot days, so if that sounds like your jam, don’t forget to toss those things in your backpack.

  1. Check your Bike

If it’s been a while since you’ve rolled out, you’ll probably want to swing by your local bike shop for a tune-up, but there are a few simple things you should check every ride to make sure your bike is road-worthy.

Your bike must have a working bell.

Tyres. Before any ride, check your tyres are pumped to the correct pressure (written on the side wall of the tyre).

Brakes are the next thing to check. Just give your bike a good roll forward and squeeze the front brake. The bike should stop and the rear wheel should come off the ground. Now do the same thing with the rear. The wheel should stop and the tire should “skid” along. Lastly, check that with the levers fully-pulled you can still slip a thumb between the lever and the handlebars. If it all checks out, you’re good to go! If it doesn’t, make the necessary tweaks to get those brakes dialed in. Are the pads worn down? Are both pads contacting at the same time? If not, get your local bike shop to fix them.

Drivetrain. Next, give the drivetrain a quick look. Make sure the chain is rust-free, lubed, and that everything spins easily. If it doesn’t, clean and lube that chain!

  1. Plan your Route

Biking to school is more fun than driving, often faster, and most importantly, gives you a chance to see more of your city while you’re on your way! Because of that, you’ll often find yourself compelled to choose the most pleasant route, as opposed to the shortest one like you would in a car. The upside to that flexibility is that you can also choose routes based on your comfort level, traffic, and where you like to ride.

Often the easiest way to start is just plugging your trip into Google Maps and selecting the “bike” method of transport. Google will do its best to give you some options that maximize bike infrastructure (separated bike paths, segregated lanes, on-street lanes, and bike routes), while minimizing hills and traffic. 

Once your route is picked, you might try a practice run one evening to get familiar with the roads, but as long as you budget enough time for navigation checks and wrong-turns on the day of, you’ll be good to go!

  1. Be Prepared for Traffic

If riding on the road, know your abilities and limits. Always use a bike lane on the road if available. Make sure to watch for drivers and passengers getting in and out of their cars. Follow all traffic signs including red lights, stop signs and give way signs. Always indicate your intentions by using hand signals or your bell if on a cycleway.

Children under the age of 12 can ride on the footpath with supervising parents and should do so on particularly busy roads.

  1. Light up at night

Road rules state you need a white front light and a rear red light showing anytime you ride in low light. The essential lights for bikes are flashing LED units that show others you are there. Note: They are not to help you see like headlights. Lights come with a bracket to attach to your handlebars, seat post or bike frame.

  1. Before you head off

Make sure you apply sunscreen when the UV is high because a red face is not cool! Always take wet weather gear if there’s a chance it might rain. Check the Sunsmart or BoM websites before you set off, because being prepared for the weather is the best way to enjoy your ride. 

  1. Bring a friend!

What’s always better than riding bikes? Riding bikes with buds! Biking to school is the perfect time to share some two-wheeled time with friends.

  1. Where to keep your bike!

You did it, you’ve arrived! Now, where to park? 

Check with your school about bike parking options to see if they have any dedicated bike storage, or a preferred place for you to park too. In fact, I’d recommend checking with everybody else who rides to class before checking with management/facilities, as the people that ride will know the best parking tips and tricks for your school/campus while often times the facilities folks knowledge of parking only extends to cars. If you have to lock up at a rack, be sure to secure both wheels and the frame, and bring in any loose accessories you think might tempt a bored thief (lights, bags, etc…). You want to make sure your bike’s waiting there for the ride home.

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Loop the Lake Charity Bike Ride

Welcome to Loop the Lake – 12th March 2017

Loop the Lake is going into its 20th year. Enter by yourself or get a group of friends and enter as a team.
There is a choice of distances from 90km, 55km and 13km.  
There are morning tea, fruit stops, water and toilets available at varying points around the course.
When you finish at Speers Point every rider is provided Lunch and free entry to Speers Point Pool.

 For 2017 the Rotary Club of Warners Bay have introduced a 7km Family Charity Ride. It is on the shared pathway, right on the lake edge, between Speers Point and Warners Bay.   

Gateshead Cycles will be at Speers Point on the morning to assist with any last minute repairs but we recommend you have your bike serviced before the date.

so CHOOSE YOUR RIDE and REGISTER ONLINE

Who benefits from you riding in Loop the Lake?

When you ride in Loop the Lake your entry fees help Camp Quality, John Hunter Childrens Hospital and Cancer Council NSW.

In March 2016, the rules for bike riders using public roads changed. You can view the new rules by clicking here.

The Ride is conducted by the , Rotary Club of Warners Bay under the approval of Lake Macquarie Council and the NSW Police. 

 
 
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New Cycling Laws in NSW

cyclistNew Cycling rules were introduced on our roads effective from 1 March 2016.  This has caused some concern over the new rules & fines applied to cyclist, especially the need to carry photo ID.  To assist, here is a breakdown of the changes and how they will effect us.

Drivers must give bicycle riders at least a metre of space

DIY Bike Lane

From 1 March 2016, drivers who pass a bicycle rider must allow a distance of at least:

  • 1 metre when the speed limit is 60km/h or less
  • 1.5 metres when the speed limit is more than 60km/h

If a driver cannot pass a bicycle rider safely, they should slow down and wait until it is safe to pass the rider, leaving the minimum distance.  Drivers caught not allowing the minimum distance when passing a bicycle
rider face a $319 fine and a penalty of two demerit points.

Bicycle riders over 18 must carry photo IDcyclist with license

From 1 March 2016, all bicycle riders aged 18 and over must carry the required photo identification.  This will provide them the safety benefits if they are injured in a crash. This will also prepare them for the commencement of the changes in March 2017. 

From 1 March 2017, riders stopped by police for breaking the road rules could face a $106 fine if they do not have the required photo ID

The good news is that riders will be able to produce an image of their photo ID, on a mobile phone or electronic device. The photo must be a clear and accurate photo of the acceptable ID that includes all identification details and any change of address information.

From 1 March 2017, acceptable forms of Photo ID will include:

  • A current Australian driver licence
  • A current NSW Photo Card or interstate equivalent
  • An Australian or foreign passport
  • An international driver licence, in English or with an English translation

Penalties/Fines

The most unpleasant of all is significant increases in penalties for categories of offences committed by bicycle riders that carry high road safety risk. The increases are intended to deter unsafe behaviour and bring penalties for those high risks in line with motorists. So unless you are doing something wrong, you have nothing to worry about.  

Here are the offences that will attract a fine:

Offence New penalty
Riding a bicycle without wearing an approved bicycle helmet $319
Riding through a red traffic light $425
Riding furiously, recklessly or negligently $425
Not stopping at children/pedestrian crossings $425
Riding a bicycle that is being towed by a motor vehicle $319
Riding without a bell or horn $106

So unless you are doing something wrong, you have nothing to worry about.   Happy Riding

 Information provided by  Road Safety Transport, NSW.

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Ways To Show Your Love On Valentine’s Day

Whether you’re the romantic type who shows their love through affection and roses, or the understated couple who believe less is more when it comes to romance, here are some Valentine’s Day ideas—perfect for every relationship!

 

  1.  Romantic Picnic                                                                                                                                             

    Couple having a picnic

 

Pack a hamper with your favourite cuisine, throw in a few cosy blankets and head off to enjoy a romantic picnic somewhere like King Edward Park, with its elegant rotunda, hundred year old Norfolk Island Pines, stunning ocean views, beautiful gardens and sweeping lawns.

  1. Recreate Your First Date

Do you have fond memories of your first date? Perhaps you visited somewhere you both haven’t been for a while? Recreating your first date is great way to enjoy each other’s company, as well as celebrating your relationship.

  1. City Escape                                                                                                                                                           

    couple by lake

 

Do you both love the city but never have enough time to explore it? Spend this Valentine’s Day  riding along the Foreshore and maybe take the ferry across to Stockton and enjoying a relaxing lunch or coffee in each other’s company at Lexie’s on the beach.

Revisit Newcastle’s convict past with a visit to the convict-hewn Bogey Hole, built around 1820 for the personal use of Commandant James T. Morriset.

  1. Candlelit Dinner                                                                                                                                              

candlelight dinner

 

Whether you choose to dine out with a fine view, or spoil your lover to a romantic homemade meal in the comfort of your own home, one thing is for sure—a candlelit dinner never fails to impress.

  1. Work Surprise

Does your loved one have to work this Valentine’s Day? Show them you care by sending a surprise to their work. Whether you ask their favourite café to deliver their go-to coffee and treat, or place an online order for a beautiful bunch of flowers, you’re bound to put a smile on their face.

  1. Leave a Valentine on Somebody’s Bike                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Bike with Valentine

Is there are a certain someone you have your eye on but you just don’t know how to tell them? You’ve seen them riding around town on that stylish city cruiser, why not attach a little note to their handlebars and tell them you like their style. You can even help make someone’s day by leaving an anonymous Valentine on a random bike or two, they’ll be sure to appreciate the compliment!