Bicycle riding is one of the most popular outdoor recreational activities in New Jersey. The following tips are designed to prepare you to get the most fun out of bicycle touring, whether it be a ride around the block or an organized rally or multi-day tour.
Think about where you want to go and what you want to see. If you are planning your own route, for an extended trip, start out by selecting a general route corridor, then refine the route using large-scale county maps.
- Plan “bail-out” points in case you have to quit early.
- Know if and how public transportation will carry your bike. Many carriers require bikes to be boxed.
- Use these questions to guide you in your tour planning:
- Do you want companions?
- Do you want to camp? Stay in hotels or motels?
- Is your proposed tour practical or realistic for your level of experience, conditioning and available time?
- Can you make emergency repairs if your bike breaks down?
There are many active bicycling clubs in New Jersey and national organizations such as the League of American Bicyclists and Adventure Cycling. Join one of these clubs or organizations. Talk to experienced riders. Read some of the many excellent publications on bicycling that are available.
Get in condition.
Take short rides first, then gradually increase the length of your rides. For extended tours, practice riding with a loaded bike. Try an overnight trip to a nearby camping area or town. You might try borrowing or renting equipment before purchasing your own.
Make sure your bike and other equipment is well maintained.
The bike should be in proper working order for every ride. A poorly maintained bike is inefficient and subject to breakdowns that could lead to an accident or injury. Keep tires inflated to proper air pressure.
Carry basic maintenance tools to make emergency repairs.
A spare tube, patch kit, pump tire irons, and a few basic tools for emergency repairs. Know how to use them.
Make sure your bike is properly fitted.
Position your saddle height so leg is slightly bent when pedal is down position. Handlebars should be slightly lower than the saddle. To be sure, get fitted at a bike shop.
Obey the rules of the road.
Use common sense.
In New Jersey, as in all other states, bicycle traffic has basically the same rights and responsibilities as motorized traffic. Ride with traffic, never facing it. Observe signals, stop and yield signs. Remember that sidewalks are for pedestrians.
Anticipate motorists’ errors such as pulling out of driveways without looking, making turns in front of you, or opening car doors into your travel path. Be alert for road hazards such as drainage grates, potholes, glass and other debris.
Select proper lane position for the situation.
- Between intersections keep as far right as practical, but don’t hug the curb, the edge of the pavement or line of parked cars. Move left to pass slower traffic or obstacles but check overtaking traffic first. If the outside lane is too narrow for side-by-side sharing with motor vehicles, move toward the middle of the lane (i.e., “take the lane”) to indicate that motor vehicle traffic must change lanes to pass safely.
- When approaching and at intersections determine your lane and position within the lane by the direction you want to go. Position yourself so your intentions are clear. If there is only one lane for travel in your direction, approach the intersection towards the left, center/right or right part of the lane depending on whether you want to go left, straight or right. When you have a choice of lanes to use, ride in the right most lane which goes in the direction you want to go.
- If you want to make a left turn and you sense that conditions are beyond your ability, you may make a “pedestrian” left hand turn by riding to the far side of the intersection and walking your bike across when conditions permit.
Signal your intentions to other traffic.
Use traditional hand signals, lane position and looking over your shoulder to indicate your intention to turn. Use the over the shoulder look and eye contact with drivers to negotiate for a lane change.
Wear a helmet.
This will minimize the possibility of disabling head injuries in the event of a spill or collision. Wear brightly colored clothing to make yourself visible. Try to avoid riding at sunrise, sunset or into the sun. If you must ride at night, use lights. White in front, red in rear. It’s the law in New Jersey. Use supplemental lights; arm lights or flasher and reflectors. Don’t rely on reflectors alone.
Eat before you are hungry; drink before you are thirsty; rest when you are tired.
Carry water with you. Cool water is the best to drink. For longer rides, carry some snack food. Know what to do for hypothermia, heat stroke, cuts and scrapes, and other minor medical problems you might encounter.
Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to get there.
Remember, touring is recreational experience not a time trial.
On longer trips (especially multi-day trips), check in at intervals. Carry some identification on your person, not in your bike pack.