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Happy Bike Month! Four Tips for Getting Your Family Bike Ready

biking-mslaura-flickrEditor's note: May is Bike Month, Bike to Work Month, and Bike to School Month. Time to dust off your (and your kids') two-wheelers, trikes and push bikes and remember how to ride! In honor, we've posted some useful family biking tips from Cascade Bicycle Club. See also our calendar for upcoming biking events, and a primer on family bike-riding basics.

By Erica Hann of Cascade Bicycle Club

Bike Month is here! Kids, tweens and teens, make sure that you’re ready to get back on your wheels by following these tips:

1. Protect that noggin

Whenever you ride a bike, it’s important to wear a helmet (plus it’s also the law in King County). If you’ve had the same helmet for more than three years, or if you’ve crashed while wearing your helmet, the time has come to get a new one. Cascade Bicycle Club sells affordable helmets in our office at Magnuson Park in Seattle by appointment, and at our summer helmet sales which begin in May.

2. Do the ABC Quick Check

Before you climb on the saddle, it’s important to do a little bike maintenance whether it’s been a day or nine months since your last ride.  Follow these simple steps to make sure your bike is in working order:

A is for air.

Are your tires pumped up? If not, get your bike pump out and check for punctures or leaks.  Fun fact: if you don’t have a bike pump, you can get some air at your local gas station. (And at a number of community bike shops and repair stands, like these ones on the UW campus.)

B is for brakes.

Test our your brakes and make sure they are engaging, and that the brake pads aren’t worn away (or this might happen).  If your brakes don’t work, don’t ride.

C is for crank and chain.

Make sure your chain has enough oil and isn’t rusted or broken. Check that the crank bolts are tight.

Quick: Make sure all the quick release levers are pushed down tightly.

Check: Go through this check every time you ride, and you will be safer and happier on your bike.

3. Map your ride

Use the Seattle, King County, or Google bike map to plan out your route to school.  Do a practice ride with your friends or parents to make sure your route is safe and doesn’t have too many hills. If you do have to go uphill, maybe get one of these.

4. Sign up for Bike to School Month

If your school isn’t signed up for Bike to School Month (a May biking challenge sponsored by Cascade Bicycle Club), and you'd like to, find out more at Cascade Bicycle Club's Bike Month site. There are tons of ways to help out, from hanging posters to organizing a Bike to School celebration and of course riding.

Erica Hann is the community  programs assistant for Cascade Bicycle Club and writes for its blog, where this post originally appeared.

Upcoming Bike Month events

Bike to Market Day - May 3, Tacoma, 10:30 a.m.-noon: Bike to the opening day of the Tacoma Farmer’s Market and gear up for Bike Month! Map Masters will be on hand to show you safe, quick, and easy bike routes. Low-cost helmets will be available for purchase. Plus…Pierce Transit will show you how to load your bike on the PT bus bike rack so you can get back up the hill later in the afternoon!

Bike/Walk to School Day - May 9: The first-ever National Bike to School Day will take place on May 9, 2012, in coordination with the League of American Bicyclists' National Bike Month. Local events across the U.S. will encourage children to safely bicycle or walk to school.school-day

Kids' Bike Swap and Festival - May 12, Seattle: Bike Works' 16th Annual Kids Bike Swap -- held at Rainier Community Center -- is an opportunity for families to trade in a bike their child has outgrown for a larger bike, pick up a free helmet (and get fitted for it!) from Seattle Children's Hospital, and join in on a really fun festival, with kid-friendly bands, food and more.

Bike to School Day - May 18: In addition to the monthly bike-to-school challenge that Cascade Bicycle Club is running in King County, kids can participate in Bike to School Day, a great initial outing for kids who are just starting to ride more.

Bicycle Sundays - Seattle: The summer Sunday tradition of making Lake Washington Boulevard in Seattle car-free -- begin on May 6 and continue on many Sundays through the spring and summer.

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