Gear & Equipment
You don’t need much stuff to get started walking or bicycling. All you really need is a bicycle, a pair of good shoes, and a desire to get out and move. Seriously, walking is the ultimate free and easy way to get around town. If you want some “gear”, check out some of the following options:
A good pair of shoes will keep you from getting blisters or cutting your feet. A good shoe should fit comfortably, have a flexible sole, and plenty of toe room. Comfortable socks are as important as good shoes. Coolmax socks can wick away moisture better than the standard cotton sock, but are not a must.
Go for comfort. Make sure you can move your legs easily. Clothing made from wicking fabrics that draw sweat away from your body can make walking more comfortable. On cold weather days, layer your clothing so items can be removed as you warm up. On sunny days, add a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses.
Stay hydrated, and drink plenty of water. If you are going for a shorter walk, drink some water before you head out and more when you return. If you will be walking for longer than 30 minutes, take your water along.
Safety & Security
Wear reflective bands and carry a flashlight at night. Always have your identification, list of medications if appropriate, emergency contacts, and a cell phone if possible.
The first step is finding a bicycle that works for you. Before you purchase a new bicycle, think about how you plan to ride it. Riding around town, versus on rocky trails, makes a big difference in the type of bicycle you’ll enjoy. Talk to the people at a local bike shop. They can help you figure out which bicycle is best for your needs and budget.
Other needs include:
All helmets sold in the U.S. must be certified by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Double-check to make sure your helmet is CPSC-certified. Two other certifications come from the Snell Foundation and ASTM; you may find any or all of these stickers inside a helmet. Above all else: Make sure your helmet fits! Here are some bike helmet fitting tips from the Bike Walk Ambassadors of the City of Minneapolis:
* Get a helmet that is adjustable around the circumference of your head. Once adjusted, the helmet should not be able to twist like the lid of a jar.
* Eyebrows – The top of the helmet should be no more than two fingers above the eyebrows.
* Ears – Helmet straps should form a triangle just below the ear lobe.
* Mouth – You should feel the chin-strap when your mouth is open wide.
Reflectors and Reflective Gear
Your bike should come equipped with reflectors to make you more visible to cars but it’s always important to inspect the bike and make sure your reflectors are in good working order. And consider clothing or purchasing reflective clothing or tape to help motorists in seeing you at darker times of day.
Like all states, Minnesota State Law requires night cyclists to be equipped with a headlamp in front and a red light or red reflector in back (flashing is often better for visibility. Carry extra barriers or a spare headlamp in case yours breaks down).
Love your bicycle? Then lock it up! A decent U-lock, chain lock or other heavy-duty lock will run about $30 on up. Be wary of cable-type locks, many of which can quickly be defeated with a hacksaw or bolt cutters.