Tips for Confident Cycling in Traffic

AnaBy Andrew Magill, C4C Minneapolis Shop Programs Coordinator and Mechanic, League Cycling Instructor, CyclingSavvy alum

How comfortable are you riding your bike in street and in traffic?  Would you like to be more comfortable? This short article will offer a few tips and resources to be more confident cycling in traffic.

According to the founders of CyclingSavvy, Keri Caffrey and Mighk Wilson, “…fear of cycling in traffic is the greatest hindrance to cycling and bicycle transportation.” However, CyclingSavvy teaches that “Bicycling in traffic is safe and easy. It does not require athleticism, speed or bravery. Successful bicycling does require a basic understanding of traffic dynamics and a belief in one’s equal right to the road.” (Quotes credited to

So how does one get started? Plan ahead and map out a route that you are comfortable with. Consider the time of day and weather. Some roads that are very busy during rush hours have much less traffic at other times. I often choose streets with less traffic because it is more pleasant for me. Check out the following traffic principles and confident cycling “do’s.”

Traffic principles to understand and follow when biking:

  • Always ride the same direction as traffic.
  • First come, first served.
  • Yield to traffic before entering a road.
  • Yield to overtaking traffic when changing lanes.
  • Obey all traffic control devices.
  • Ride as far to the right as is practicable (possible and also safe for you), but also
  • “Take the lane” or “ride big” whenever you need to for your safety.

Confident Cycling “do’s” :

  • Be aware of your surroundings: Scan for road hazards and always stay aware of other road users and pedestrians.
  • Be visible, “ride big.”
  • Be predictable, communicate (by signalling turns and using head movements, eye contact and bike positioning) with other road users.
  • Avoid the “Door Zone”:  In general never ride closer than 3 feet to parked cars (an extended arms length). This can mean riding on the left edge or even outside of a designated bike lane.
  • Understand how traffic flows in the areas where you will ride.

Resources related to confident cycling:

  • Cycles for Change will offer a “Street Skills” class 9/22 at our MPLS location. Also check out local Slow Roll Twin Cities rides every Thursday, co-sponsored by Cycles for Change.
  • The Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota has a calendar listing a variety of Confident Cycling classes here.
  • The League of American Bicyclists, CyclingSavvy, sharetheroadmn and the bicycling page on the City of Minneapolis website are all locations to find out more about confident cycling in traffic.
  • Finally, remember to have fun and enjoy your ride! This is an important advantage of traveling by bicycle, right?

We’re hiring a Retail Mechanic!

This position is primarily responsible for supporting C4C’s retail operation through bicycle repair and customer sales and service. This position will primarily balance three activities: repairing used bicycles for C4C’s sales floor; performing tune-ups and repairs on customer bikes; and staffing the retail floor and service counter during open retail hours.

Interested? Learn more or apply here.


Bike-a-Thon – Tips for Fundraising!

Our annual Bike-a-Thon is getting closer and closer –  Saturday, September 10!

Once you pay your $10 registration fee, we ask all participants to fundraising a minimum of $50 for Cycles for Change. Wondering how to go about fundraising for this event? We have two “Tips for Fundraising” documents that can help!

Part 1: Setting up for your fundraising page
Part 2: Actually asking for money

Fundraising can be fun and easy! Now, go try it out!

C4C Hosting Info Session for Bike-a-Thon

Want to learn more about Cycles for Change’s upcoming Bike for Justice: Bike-a-Thon?

Join us for an open house-style info session at our Minneapolis shop (1915 E. 22nd St.) on Wednesday, July 27 from 8am-10am.

Stop in for five minutes on your way to work. You’ll be able to learn more about the event (why “Bike for Justice”), register to ride, and start your fundraising campaign!

We’ll even have breakfast for you too!

Important Info for Wild Spring Festival Bike Ride Participants

Info for Wild Springs Festival Bikers (if you signed up you will also get this via email):

Bike Ride to Eat for Equity’s Wild Springs Festival 2016 – Lily Springs Farm (1930 60th Ave, Osceola, WI 54020) Starting at Cycles for Change MPLS (1915 E 22nd St MPLS)

Date: Saturday, July 16 and Sunday, July 17

Camping gear/luggage: This will be schlepped for you in a van (see below). We will have you fill out a luggage tag to attach to it. It is a good idea to have your name inside your bag(s) as well.

Note: You may drop off your camping gear ahead of time if you like at Cycles for Change MPLS from 4:30-7:oo pm on Friday, July 15. You can also have a mechanic safety check your bike and help you with MINOR bike adjustments.

Festival Ticket and Waiver: You need to have obtained a Wild Spring’s festival ticket and must fill out a liability waiver to join this ride.

Time: Arrive between 8:30-9:00 am on Saturday at C4C MPLS to check in – we will leave at 9:30 am.

Please arrive by 9 to check in, get your camping gear/luggage to Matt to put in his van, fill water bottles, pee, etc. We will have coffee available.

Expect to arrive at Lily Springs Farm between 3:00 and 5:00 pm. This is a no drop ride – we will have volunteers riding in the back of the group You can ride ahead of the leader who will ride about 12-16 MPH, but you will be on your own .

When you arrive at the farm: 1) smile and feel accomplished 2) check in 3) get instructions on where to leave your bike 4) locate your camping gear and think about setting up your tent 5) enjoy the festival!

Route Summary: Cross Miss. River via Bridge 9, Dinkytown Greenway, U fo M transitway, Como Park, Arlington Ave. Gateway Trail, North through Scandia, East to Osceola, East and south to LSF. you will get a map and cue card before the ride and I am working on a GPX file as well.

Planned Stops: 1) Hadley Lot, Gateway trail, water/bathroom. 2) Pine Point Park: Lunch approx 11:30 – 1 PM; 3) Scandia (optional – general store/bathrooms), 4) Osceola (optional – gas station/bathrooms; liquor store) Lunch will be provided Saturday.

For the return trip: The group will leave the farm at 10:30 AM on Sunday. You are free to leave at another time if you prefer (please let us know if you decide to do this). Many folks stop as a group for lunch/brunch at the Scandia cafe on Sunday. They food is really tasty and you may want the calories. Don’t forget a slice of pie. They don’t take credit cards so bring cash. (breakfast is provided Sunday morning at the farm as part of your ticket).

Things to bring with you: a working bicycle, clothes to ride in that are comfortable for you, appropriate footwear for riding, (no flip flops), water (at least one large bottle or two medium (32 oz or more total) ) snacks. Consider bringing a spare tube for your tires. Sunscreen and sunglasses. Bicycle helmet.

Ride leaders and volunteers are prepared to help riders should they get a flat tire or have other bike issues during the ride. There will be a support vehicle if your bike has an issue that is not repairable or if a rider needs to stop riding for some reason. – you would be given a ride to the farm or back to MPLS on Sunday (space is limited – if you are only planning to ride one way, make your own arrangements). Ride leaders or volunteers would assist you if you need the support vehicle.

This is a really fun ride and much of the route is very scenic. It is relatively flat, however expect some hills as you approach Scandia and Osceola and during the last 5 miles as you reach Lily Springs.

Other: If you need help, find a ride leader or call numbers that will be listed on you cue sheet (directions). If you decide to stop riding and get picked up by a friend or family member or turn around, let us know so we aren’t looking for you.

This is a really fun ride and much of the route is very scenic. It is relatively flat, however expect some hills as you approach Scandia and Osceola and during the last 5 miles as you reach Lily Springs. About half of the ride is on trials and the other half is on roads, most of the roads are low traffic and have a bike lane or shoulder. Obey all traffic laws. Communicate with other riders and road or trail users with hand signals and your voice. Be courteous. Ride aware, be visible and be prepared. We want everyone to have a great ride and get there and back safely. Be aware of other riders, road conditions, vehicle traffic, etc. Be prepared to stop at trail intersections and at the bottom of hills etc. We are here to help you have a great experience. You are responsible for staying hydrated and taking in calories along the ride as you need. Expect to be riding for 3- 5+ hours not including stops.

Thank You Note: Council Member Warsame

Cycles for Change cannot do everything it does without the people and organizations who provide us funding. We do make a small profit from selling used bikes, but the majority of our budget comes from donations—grants from foundations and corporations, contracts with government entities, and very important individual donations. This is the first article in a series thanking the people and organizations who help us do what we do.

This year—for the first time—Cycles for Change is receiving direct funding from the City of Minneapolis to get more East African immigrants and their families in Minneapolis on bicycles. This money specifically helps fund our adult Learn-to-Ride classes, the Bike Grant program, and our Minneapolis youth apprentices.

Minneapolis Council Member Abdi Warsame was instrumental in securing this funding in the 2016 budget process and in helping us work our way through the Minneapolis city bureaucracy. Council Member Warsame represents the 6th Ward, which includes the Minneapolis shop and much of the Seward, Cedar-Riverside, and Phillips communities. We want to thank him for his work to help us meet the needs of his ward!

Volunteer Spotlight: Brad Carlson

Brad Carlson, volunteer extraordinaire at our Minneapolis shop, has been involved with Cycles for Change for about two years. Brad came to Cycles for Change as a participant in our Earn-a-Bike program. He completed that program, having repaired a very nice GT mountain bike which he uses for transportation and recreational riding. He enjoyed the experience so much he almost immediately became a volunteer assistant instructor during subsequent Earn-a-Bike classes.

Currently Brad volunteers to help participants during Open Shops and has completed five bikes for our sales floor as a talented volunteer mechanic. He has also assisted with our Bike Grant Program. His repair skills have developed immensely since he first came to C4C, as well as his teaching skills and confidence. Brad is friendly and good humored which sets first time Open Shop participants at ease right away. He is generous with his time and is always willing to stick around “a little longer” if someone needs help. Brad has a passion for biking, cool bikes, and bike mechanics which is evident any time he is working at our Minneapolis shop.

Fun fact: In the last year, Brad moved from St. Louis Park to within one mile of C4C-Minneapolis. We will take that as a compliment! We are really lucky to have Brad as a volunteer and friend. Thanks, Brad!

(Brad is pictured above with the most recent bike he completed–he did a complete overhaul on this bike, including replacing the front suspension fork!)

Volunteers Needed For Open Streets

C4C will have a table and tent at both the East Lake and Franklin Ave Open Streets! Staff and apprentices will be there to talk about C4C programming, as well as offer free, quick bike adjustments. But we need volunteers to help with these tasks too! Contact [email protected] if interested!

Open Streets: East Lake
Sunday, July 24, 11am-5pm

Volunteers needed for shifts:
10:30am-2pm – 1-2 volunteers*
2pm-5:30pm – 1-2 volunteers*
*Will be accompanied by C4C staff and apprentices

Open Streets: Franklin Ave
Sunday, August 21, 11am-5pm

Volunteers needed for shifts:
10:30am-2pm – 1-2 volunteers*
2pm-5:30pm – 1-2 volunteers*
*Will be accompanied by C4C staff and apprentices

Interested in being an Open Streets Mpls Official Volunteer instead for either East Lake or Franklin Ave? Contact the Volunteer Coordinator by calling 612-547-9506. C4C needs 5 at each in order to secure a discount on our table/tent entry. Thanks!