Take the Bike Lane

Take the Bike Lane“This isn’t a terrible city to bike in,” says Justin Taylor, vice president of the University Student Government Association and Graduate School student. Taylor and Adam Clark (also a student in the Graduate School) gave tips on urban biking at a UM Go Green-sponsored sustainability workshop  March 26.

After all, biking to and from school or work is another way to reduce your carbon footprint, reduce dependence on foreign oil, and stay active.

With more shared roads popping up, Clark says the city is a decent area to bike in, but you need good puncture-resistant tires (hard-shell or hard-case types) to avoid getting flats. You also should be aware of your surroundings, Taylor says.

“Assume cars will do the dumbest thing possible, anticipate what could go wrong, and err on the side of caution,” Taylor adds.

He gave attendees tips for avoiding trouble and staying safe.

  • Get in the middle of the lane and force cars to go around you.
  • Don’t hug parked cars — drivers may open doors unexpectedly.
  • Always look ahead.
  • Don’t lock your arms — keep elbows bent with a firm grip.

In addition to discussing bike safety, Taylor demonstrated how to change a flat tire. It depends on the bike, he says, but here are some basic steps.

  1. Remove your wheel —l oosen the brakes, pop off the tire, and pull the tube out.
  2. Check for damage — find out what caused the flat and, if possible, remove it.
  3. Replace the tube — you can patch the tube for an emergency repair, but it's quicker to replace the tube while on-the-go, Taylor says.
  4. Reinstall the wheel — make sure the tube is not pinched between the tire and rim, and then inflate the tire — and don’t forget to reconnect your brakes!

“You can do it yourself,” Taylor says. “It’s easier than a car.”

Taylor also recommends carrying a kit with you. Available at most bike shops, kits usually include a hand pump, tire levers, a patch kit, an extra tube, and tools to tighten bolts.

For a good bike shop, Clark recommends Baltimore Bicycle Works. To learn more about bike maintenance, Velocipede Bike Project (a nonprofit co-op) is a good resource.

And what type of bike should you use in the city? It depends on personal preference, Clark says. He uses a fixed-speed bike, whereas Taylor uses a mountain bike.

“With a fixed-speed bike, I tend to be more careful,” Clark says. “There are no hand brakes or gears, you have to pedal more, but it is much simpler and requires little maintenance.”

For those interested in starting a bike club on campus and/or those who have repair questions, contact Taylor at

“Remember, always wear a helmet,” Taylor says.

For additional resources, check out the following local bike organizations:

— Tracy Gnadinger

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