As colorful spring flowers bloom and the days grow longer — and COVID-19 means the usual Lodi springtime events have been canceled, postponed, or drastically changed — spending time on a bike is an ideal way to get around town while taking in the sights and fitting in some heart-healthy exercise.
“When I get on my bike, I find myself smiling within a block,” Bike Lodi President Kathryn Siddle said. “It feels good, I’m going fast, and in Lodi, we don’t have any hills, so it’s pretty easy. Most of the town is pretty bike-friendly and supportive. It’s a positive way to get around.”
When looking at workout routines, cycling has many perks, Siddle said. Not only is it fun, but riders can find ways to cycle as part of their daily routines. She recommends people hop on their bikes while running errands or going to work.
“You don’t have to be part of the Spandex crew who are getting out there and doing the 30-plus mile rides,” she said.
Another big perk is that cycling is low impact, so riders with pain in their joints, knees or feet can still enjoy it.
One of Siddle’s neighbors recently wanted to start bike riding, so she bought an adult tricycle to ride around town with her dog.
“It’s one of the things you can do at all ages,” Siddle said. “Pretty much anyone can ride a bike.”
Health benefits of cycling include cardiovascular fitness, lower blood pressure and more energy, Siddle said, and the added exercise can build muscle and improve coordination.
Bike Lodi offers a long list of routes on the Visit Lodi! website so new and experienced riders can navigate the streets safely. One of the popular rides is a 5-mile route called the Lodi Lake Family Fun Ride, which starts at the World of Wonders Science Museum.
When choosing a route, keep social distancing in mind, says the California Bicycling Coalition, a Sacramento-based advocacy group that promotes cycling around the state.
One of Bike Lodi’s big goals is to combat childhood obesity by encouraging family rides and for children to routinely ride together. Outdoor exercise, including bike riding, is considered an essential activity during the COVID-19 shutdown, as long as cyclists practice good social distancing.
Ride with members of your household or a “quarantine buddy” — a friend you trust to stick to social distancing. Don’t organize or join in group rides, and don’t ride closely behind anyone who is not a member of your household, CalBike says.
“Also, don’t be a daredevil. Now is not the time to test your limits and risk a broken bone or other injuries that would require a visit to the hospital,” CalBike says.
For anyone looking to start riding their bicycle more, Siddle has one main piece of advice.
“I am a firm believer in always wearing a helmet,” she said. “Even if you are running to the store, it’s just not worth it.”
Cyclists also need to ride on the street while going in the direction of traffic. Sometimes riders feel safer on the sidewalk, but she said that should be reserved for pedestrians, strollers and walkers. Also, with more hybrid cars on the road, bike riders cannot always hear when they are backing up.
Bicyclists must follow the same rules as motorists, including obeying street signs and road markings. Riders should assume car drivers don’t see them and practice defensive riding, Siddle said. It is also important to watch for hazards like potholes or train tracks.
It is also important for riders to make sure cars can see them with bright, reflective clothing, a white light on the handlebars and a red light in the rear with reflectors, she said. Siddle always puts hers on the strobe setting to draw more attention.
“Even though we have the right to share the road, we have to make sure we are looking at drivers and being as careful as possible,” she said.
Lodi Living Editor K. Cathey contributed to this report.