The snow is melting, the temperatures are skewing slightly milder, and runners are returning to the Southwest Corridor; with longer daylight hours, even the cold days seem more bearable. More and more people who have taken a winter hiatus are getting back on their bikes, while others are considering biking for the first time, especially after a brutal season of public transit troubles.
And that is wonderful! But riding in the Spring has some of its own challenges, whether you’ve pedalled through the winter or are just exploring your options on two wheels.
Spring is prime flat tire season! The snow banks are receding, but street cleaning hasn’t started yet, so the roads and bike lanes are literally littered with a winter’s worth of debris and broken glass. Steer clear of curbs and shoulders as much as you can to minimize your risk.
Even if you get a couple flats, it’s probably not worth replacing your tires (the outer rubber piece that touches the road) right away unless they’re very, very worn, but DO be sure that your tires are properly inflated, and top ‘em off every week. Riding on tires that are under pressure makes you more prone to flats, and slows you down, too!
Already have a flat? Want to learn to change your own? Need help figuring out proper pressure or how to get ‘em pumped up? Bring your bike to the next Grrrease Time! Fix-a-Flat classes are in the works, too, so let us know if you’re interested.
Whether you’ve been riding this winter or not, you’ll notice quickly that the streets are a mess. Plows and cold weather tear up the roads, and the landscape changes day to day during the winter season. Even on routes you ride regularly, pay extra close attention to conditions! Until it warms up and crews get out to patch things, we’re not talking small bumps, but real wheel-eating, crash-inducing holes.
If you spot one, report it! The Mayor’s Hotline and corresponding Citizens Connect app allow you to report potholes, and you can follow up and confirm that they’re fixed. The city can’t spot everything, and your report through the app or hotline helps them track and tend to issues! For bonus points, be sure to throw in a mention of your noticing it by bike, so they know we’re out there.
Bostonians of all walks and rides of life lose their marbles when Spring hits. It’s just a fact. With more folks out on foot, in parks, on bikes, and more windows of cars down to let the warm air in, people sometimes lose their focus. Whether you’re heading out as a rookie, returning to the roads after a long winter, or just reassimilating to the pack after a cold season of solitary riding, be extra vigilant!
On park and green space paths, like the Southwest Corridor or the Esplanade, ride predictably and announce your presence to people you pass – on foot or on two wheels – with a clear, friendly “Passing on your left/right!” Folks with headphones might not hear you, so proceed with caution.
On the roads, pay extra attention for pedestrians walking out from behind parked cars (again, headphones and phones are common distractions), particularly around crosswalks. People driving sometimes get impatient in warmer weather, even if they’ve been tolerant all winter long; watch especially for people taking right turns in front of you and do your best to ride predictably and stay out of blind spots.
Aside from warmer weather being the perfect time to give your bike a good cleaning and once over, there is one season-specific precaution that is important especially if you’ve ridden in any wet weather in recent months (like today!): take the time to remove your seatpost and lube it!
Most seatposts are aluminum, and most bike frames are steel; when these two metals are met with salt water (even some snow melt you kicked up on a warm day), they gradually chemically weld together. Forever. It’s not instantaneous, so riding in wet winter conditions is fine, so long as you periodically take the post out and re-grease it.
Need help identifying your seat post, or finding the right tools or lube for this quick precaution? Bring your bike by Grrrease Time on the second Monday of the month, and we can help!
What have we missed? What are your top concerns or advice about riding this season? Have questions about these springtime tips, or want to ask about something we haven’t covered here? The Femmechanics community on Facebook is active, supportive and helpful, or ask us anything in the comments!
Safe riding, and happy Spring!
image credit: @KZiegs