Biking is a great way to get around campus and Boulder, whether you’re looking to get some exercise or commute sustainably. Learning a little bike maintenance, knowing the rules of the road and being prepared can improve your bike ride.
Register your bike
Be sure to register your bike with CU if you haven’t already. Bike registration is now through Bike Index, which allows police to track down your bike if it is stolen. If you registered your bike before the spring 2021 semester, you will need to register it again. It’s quick and easy to register online and then pick up your registration sticker from a campus bike station.
Know the rules of the road
As a cyclist, you have similar responsibilities to motorists on the road. Here are some tips and reminders:
- Always stay on the right side of bike paths and bike lanes.
- Pay attention to signage on bike paths and throughout campus for dismount zones where riding your bike is prohibited.
- Pass on the left with care, and announce that you’re passing someone by saying “on your left” or using a bell. Make sure whatever you use is clearly audible.
- Signal your turns, just as you do when driving a car. A left arm straight out signals a left turn, and a right arm straight out signals a right turn.
- Ride sober: Colorado’s DUI statute includes bicycles under its definition of “vehicle,” so you can get a DUI for biking under the influence.
- Lighten up: Boulder requires all cyclists riding between dawn and dusk to ride with a mounted front light and rear red reflector.
Protect your bike from theft
Because 96% of bikes stolen on campus use a cable lock or no lock at all, it’s recommended you use a high quality U-lock to keep your bike safe. Make sure the lock goes through the frame of your bike, and not just the front wheel. Thieves can easily remove a front wheel and take the rest of your bike. If you don’t have a U-lock, pick up one for free when you trade in your cable lock at one of the bike stations during normal business hours.
Prepare for your bike ride
Regular bike maintenance is something you can do on your own, and it can help prevent expensive repairs or accidents. Before you ride, do the ABC Quick Check:
- Air: If you can easily squeeze your tires, they need to be inflated. Check for the PSI printed on the side of the tire. They will lose air over time, even when just sitting around, so check them before each ride.
- Brakes: Look at the brake pads and make sure they are aligned with the rim and do not rub the tire. Pull both brake levers and make sure you have at least a thumb-width of space between the brake lever and the handlebar.
- Chain: Pedal the bike backwards and listen for squeaking. If it’s noisy, it’s time to oil the chain. Drip bike-chain oil onto the chain and wipe off any excess oil to prevent it from attracting dirt.
- Quick: If your bike has quick-release wheels (with a lever on the hub of your wheel), make sure they are closed properly. The lever should be tight enough to leave an imprint in your palm when you close it. Alternatively, if you don’t have quick-release, make sure your wheels are tightened. Most wheels take a 15 mm wrench.
- Check: Check for anything loose or rubbing, especially around the brakes and gears. Gear and brake levers should be tight. Also, make sure your handlebars and seat are tight and centered.
If you notice issues with these checks, have a bike mechanic check it out. If you’re in the Boulder area, you can visit our bike mechanics at the UMC and Folsom Bike Stations.
If you’re interested in learning even more about bike repair and maintenance:
- Check out our bike resources.
- Sign up for our online Bike Mechanics 101 class.
- Explore this slide show about basic bike anatomy to learn more about your bike.
Have a backup plan
While we do our best to prepare for the unexpected, it’s good to have a backup plan in case you get a flat tire or get caught in the rain. If you’re near a public transit route, all RTD buses have bike racks and bikes are allowed on light rail trains. You could also use a ride share service or ask someone to pick you up. CU Boulder offers a guaranteed ride home to staff and faculty who commute by bike and have unexpected changes to their schedule.
If you’re planning to regularly bike a route where those aren’t options, consider learning basic bike maintenance skills and carrying a small repair kit to handle the little things that might come up.
Attend CU BikeFest
Join fellow students at Farrand Field on Aug. 31 at 1 p.m. for CU BikeFest. Enjoy free food, games and giveaways while becoming part of the CU bike community. There will be a used bike sale and low-income students can apply to get a bike at no cost.
Sustainable Buffs is a series brought to you by the Environmental Center. Learn more sustainability tips and ways to get involved at colorado.edu/ecenter.