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Bike-to-Work Week: Tri-State Trails’ Tips for Bike-Commuting in Greater Cincinnati

Sunday, May 12, 2024 by Pat LaFleur

Across the U.S., communities are commemorating National Bike-to-Work Week from May 13–19, culminating in Bike-to-Work Day on Friday, May 17

It’s hard to believe it’s that time of year already: National Bike-to-Work Week is upon us, and Tri-State Trails and the Greater Cincinnati bike community are celebrating in the best way they know how: Breakfast on the Bridge on National Bike-to-Work Day, now marking its 15th year.

The annual breakfast on the Purple People Bridge might be the culmination of the much-anticipated week-long celebration of bicycles as a mode of everyday transportation. But at the heart of the yearly festivities is a simple and singular mission: getting people out on their bikes more often, feeling safer than ever. By facilitating safe, community-based opportunities to explore the bike-commuting space for this one week in May, organizers hope beginner riders will carry that confidence into the rest of the year.

Toward that end, in celebration of Bike-to-Work Week Tri-State Trails offers these tips for bike-commuting in Greater Cincinnati:

Bike Commuting Essentials
There are a handful of items that are essential to bicycling, whether you’re commuting or out for exercise or recreation. These include:

  • Wear a helmet and reflective/hi-viz apparel
  • Front and rear (preferably blinking) lights
  • Bike bell
  • The “ABC’s”: (A)ir in your tires; strong (B)rakes; greasy (C)hain

Bike Commuter Habits
Just like there are essential tools for bike-commuting, there are also essential behaviors and habits. When preparing for your next bike commute, work to enact these habits:

  • No headphones while riding
  • Pack a stronger lock than a cable lock (a U-lock or U-lock + cable-lock combo)
  • Avoid the “door-zone” when riding in the street – give space for parked drivers to open their doors without creating an obstruction
  • Be predictable to drivers: Follow all traffic signs and signals (including STOP and YIELD signs) – see next section!
  • Consult the Low-Stress Bike Map for the bike-friendliest routes throughout Hamilton County and Northern Kentucky – see Local Resources below!

You Are Traffic! Ride Like a Vehicle in the Road
The biggest difference between riding recreationally or for sport and commute-riding is the likelihood that you will encounter motor-vehicle traffic. As a result, bike commuters will benefit from riding like a driver, in a sense: follow signs and signals; observe right-of-way and lane occupancy; etc.:

  • Use hand signals to indicate direction of movement while riding or waiting at a stop
  • Ride with motor-vehicle traffic, not against it
  • Ride in the middle of a narrow lane (when it’s perceived that a car couldn’t pass you safely in the same lane)
  • Cars are required to give cyclists 3 feet of space while passing
  • Always yield to people walking, jogging, running or in a wheelchair or mobility device
  • If you feel safer moving to the sidewalk, dismount and walk your bicycle

Be Courteous on the Trail
While bike commuting might take you onto street infrastructure, in a region like ours, it’s likely your commute will also benefit from some off-road, dedicated trail space, as well such as the CROWN, Murray Path, Little Miami Scenic Trail, and Wasson Way. These spaces are restricted from motor-vehicle traffic but remain open to people walking, rolling, riding, skating, or using a mobility device.

When on the trail, it’s important to observe these additional factors:

  • Slow down and yield to pedestrians
  • Call out and ring your bell to pass pedestrians or any other trail-user moving slower than you
  • Ride carefully around children and dogs

Make it Multi-Modal
It would take a seasoned cyclist with pro-level endurance to traverse all corners of the Greater Cincinnati region without any other vehicular assistance. With the dynamic landscape provided by the city’s “Seven Hills,” not all routes and destinations are equally accessible to riders of varying experience and skill levels. 

That’s where public transit can lend a hand. Metro and Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky (TANK) buses are equipped with front-mounted dual racks for cyclists to store their bikes while onboard. In celebration of Bike-to-Work Day on Friday, May 17, both transit agencies will offer free fare to anyone riding the bus with their bicycle.      

Local Resources
Tri-State Trails’ Low-Stress Bike Map is back and better than ever with a new update, including new segments never before outlined throughout Northern Kentucky. For Tri-State Trail’s full bike-commuting run-down (including the Low-Stress Bike Map), visit: https://tristatetrails.org/bikecommute/

Riding a bike opens up a world of possibilities, and Greater Cincinnati benefits from numerous organizations working to make cycling an attainable reality for more people. As you become more comfortable on two wheels, joining cycling groups like Queen City Bike, Major Taylor Cycling Club of Cincinnati, Urban Basin Bicycle Club, CORA (Cincinnati Off Road Alliance), Reser Bicycle Outfitters, the Cincinnati Cycle Club, and many others can elevate your riding experience offering a supportive community and a variety of ride options, whether you’re seeking mellow urban exploration, tackling mountain bike single-track trails, or joining pace groups for road biking adventures. With each pedal stroke, you’ll discover new routes, forge friendships, and embrace the joy of cycling in all its forms.

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