Tips for Riders

Tips for Riders

Every year, more Calgarians are choosing to see cycling as a viable way to get to work. They love the benefits - getting in their exercise, getting out of traffic congestion, reducing stress and increasing mental health, reducing their environmental footprint, being part of a community, and reducing costs. Now, commuting is even easier with city’s becoming more bike-friendly with added infrastructure, city parking and transit options for cyclists, and many employers offering secure bike parking and change facilities. If you are interested in joining this commuting community, here are a few resources that might be helpful.

Being safe on our roads includes having a bike that fits you, making sure your bike is well-maintained and safe to ride, and knowing the rules and responsibilities around cycling. Here are a some resources to help you understand the law, rules and behaviours that will help you to stay safe while enjoying all the benefits of biking.

Bike Size The specialists in a bike shop will be able to help you find the right-sized bike when you are buying new. If you are looking at an older bike or purchasing a used one, here's how you check that the size is right for you:
  • Is the the stand-over height correct? You check this by standing over the bike and making sure there is 5-8cm of room between the top tube and your crotch. If you are looking at a step-through bike (usually a woman's bike), stand-over height doesn't apply.
  • Can the seat be adjusted to the proper height? You check this by sitting straight on the seat with your heel on the pedal. Put the pedal in the down position so that the crank arm is parallel to the seat tube; keep your leg completely straight. In this position, your bike is too big if your heel can't reach the pedal with the seat in its lowest setting. Conversely, if you have to pull the seat post out too far, the bike is too small.
  • Make sure you can comfortably reach the handlebars once you've properly adjusted your bike for stand-over height and seat position.
Take the bike (new or used) for a spin to make sure the bike feels great when you ride it. While the bike might be the proper fit, it may not be a comfortable ride for you. Keep looking until you find that perfect fit. New Bikes We like to recommend the local shops that support Bike Calgary and its mission to make Calgary a great place for all bikers – present and future – through advocacy, education and community. These bike shops not only support Bike Calgary but they are part of our Friend of Bike Calgary Program, too.
Used Bikes
Used bikes are a great option but can come with some concerns. Here are a few tips in buying a used bike:
  • Check that the bike is not stolen by requesting it's serial number and running it through the CPIC database.
  • Make sure you know the bike size you are looking for (see above).
  • Test drive the bike to make sure it's a great fit with your body and your riding style.
  • Make sure you check out the bike's condition. You could ask to meet the seller at a local bike shop to get an opinion on the bike (there may be a charge for an inspection so make sure to ask your bike shop)or maybe take a bike-savvy friend with you to check it out.
Buying Options: The Complete Guide to Buying a Bicycle (2018, external source)
Here is a quick reference list for finding bike parking in Calgary.
  • The City of Calgary's Bike Racks in Public & Private Spaces
  • The City of Calgary's Park and Bike Sites
  • The City of Calgary's Bikes on Transit
  • Calgary Parking Authority - The CPA is offering monthly parking for $10+ at most of its secure locations.
  • ImPark - In many of their downtown Calgary underground parkades, they offer secure bike parking for a monthly or annual fee.
  • Employers - Many employers have arrangements for secure bike parking, as well as change facilities. For example, Brookfield Properties is endeavouring to have secure parking in all their parkades.
Before you take your bike out on a trip, you should make sure it’s safe to ride. Here are some ways to ensure you bike is in its best shape before you head out.
  • Make sure your bike fits you. See “Finding a Bike” in this section to help you determine if your bike fits you properly.
  • Take your bike in for a tune-up at a local bike shop. This costs about $50 and you’ll be safe in the knowledge that a trained professional has made sure your bike is in good working order.
  • By law, you will need to have a bell, working brakes and a red rear reflector on your bike.
  • If you are traveling between sunset and sunrise, you will need rear and front lights.
  • Consider getting a helmet and a set of cycling gloves. A really good bike lock is always a good idea, too.
To ensure your bike stays in good shape, take it in for a yearly tune-up (sometimes more if you are an all-weather commuter). If you feel up to doing your own bike maintenance, check out the M-Check method for looking after your bike. Bicycle Tutor also has some great videos on bike maintenance.

While bicycle theft numbers are down in Calgary, there were still over 3600 reported bike thefts in 2017. Here’s a nice simple list to follow to help prevent bike theft, as well as how to report a theft. For more details on locking your bike, see below.

  • Lock your bike properly by securing the wheels and the bike frame to something solid. Do this even if you are using secured bike parking.
  • Use multiple locks.
  • Take easily removable items with you (bells, seats, lights).
  • Don’t leave your bike locked in an easily accessible place for long periods of time, especially overnight.
  • Try to not be predictable such as parking/locking your bike to the same bike rack every day.
  • Make sure garages and sheds are locked.
  • Record the serial numbers of your bikes and take photos of your bikes. This will help the police to recover your bike. You can take the additional step of recording this information on Bike Index, which allows you to register your bike and mark your bike as lost or stolen. Bike Index then alerts their bike community to assist in finding your bike.
  • Report your bike as lost or stolen using the Calgary Police online form.
  • There is also a local Facebook group under Stolen Bikes Calgary and Surrounding Area. This is a group of volunteers working to help bike owners recover their stolen bikes.
  • If your bike was stolen before you could register or record your serial number, the bike shop you purchased your bike at will often have this information in their records.

How to Lock Your Bike

  • Buy a good lock - even a $100 bike is worth stealing if it’s easy to do so. A U-lock is a good place to start. Check out the site The Best Bike Lock for more info on all your lock options.
  • Do not use cable locks as your main lock - they are cut in seconds with cheap cable cutters.
  • Nice wheels are worth a lot - loop a high-quality u-lock through the frame and rear wheel. Secure the front wheel with an additional cable if the wheel has a quick release.
    • Bonus theft prevention points - take off your front wheel.
    • Extra bonus points - replace quick release skewers with a locking wheel skewer such as Pinheads. Seats, wheels and handlebars are regularly stolen off secured bikes.
  • Trust your local bike shop to help you select your hardware and show you how to use it.

Where to Lock Your Bike

  • Make sure your U-lock connects your bike frame to a stationary immovable object, even if you are in a secured parking area.
  • Give the immovable object your bike is attached to a shake to make sure the bike can’t easily be slipped over or under it.
  • Check out “Bike Parking” in this section to learn more about where to park your bike. Try not to lock your bike to trees, street signs or handrails - it’s not a great cyclist move.

9 Different People Tried to Steal a Bait Bike in Calgary Over Just 2 Days (external source, 2018)

  • The very first thing to do is to file a police report online. Doing this gives you the best chance of recovering your bike.
    • Important Information You Should Have in Your Files - serial number of the bike, pictures of the bike, and proof of ownership (sale or repairs receipts).
    • If you don't have this information, the bike shop you purchased your bike at often keeps this information (minus the photos).
  • If you can prove your bike is worth more than $5000, it is considered a more serious criminal offence. Your could try using Bicycle Blue Book as a way to determine the bike’s value.
  • Contact your home insurance company. You may have coverage but will need to weigh that with what may happen to your premiums.
  • Keep an eye out for used bikes for sale (Kijiji, Craigslist, ...). If you see your bike, contact the police. Do NOT go to the seller to recover your bike.
  • Get social and spread information on your bike on social media.
    • There is a local group of volunteers that are working to find lost/stolen bikes. You can find them on Facebook at Stolen Bikes Calgary and Surrounding Area.
    • You can also register your bike on Bike Index. Once you've registered your bike, you can mark your bike as lost or stolen and they will activate their bike community to help you to find your bike.