Thursday, May 3, 2018 | 2 a.m.
May kicks off National Bike Month—an opportunity to get outside, get moving and explore the Valley via bicycle.
In Southern Nevada, there are more than 1,000 miles of bike routes, lanes and shared-use paths, with plans to create many more. And as Las Vegas becomes increasingly bike-friendly, there are a few public initiatives geared toward improving accessibility and convenience for cyclists.
Whether you are a daily bike commuter, cycle for exercise or simply enjoy cruising around on the weekends, here are some important things to know about biking in the Valley.
Cycling initiatives in Las Vegas
• Bike Share: In 2016, the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) launched Downtown’s first public bike share system. The program allows users to borrow a bike from a designated bike dock, ride it around and then drop it off at any of the 21 locations downtown.
It costs $8 to rent a bike for 24 hours, and there’s an option to purchase a 30-day membership for $20. You can use the BCycle app to find the locations of each bike dock, the space availability and the closest available bike.
You can bring your own helmet or grab a complimentary helmet at the Bike Center inside the Bonneville Transit Center on Bonneville and Casino Center Boulevard.
You have to be 16 or older to borrow a bike, so if you’re looking to ride with your little ones, you may need to make alternative plans.
• RTC Bike Center: The Bike Center at the Bonneville Transit Center isn’t only for complimentary bike-share helmets—it’s a full-service bike shop and repair facility with free indoor parking for up to 75 bikes at a time.
It also offers membership options that provide access to lockers, restrooms and private showers, making it the ideal hub for daily bike commuters Downtown.
• Club Ride: Using alternative modes of transportation—cycling, mass transit, walking and carpooling—can help reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality. Club Ride was created to incentivize commuters and their employers into using alternative methods of transport when traveling to and from work.
The program includes monthly rewards, membership benefits and exclusive discounts available at a variety of local merchants.
Ask if your employer is affiliated with the Club Ride program and if not, ask how to get involved. Some companies may offer other incentive programs for sustainable commuting as well.
National Bike Month
Sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists, National Bike Month was first established in 1956 and has since been adopted by cities and states across the country. The organization also promotes National Bike to Work Week, which is May 14-18, and Bike to Work Day on May 18.
Health benefits of cycling
Riding a bike isn’t just fun, cost-efficient and environmentally responsible—it’s also one of the best aerobic exercises around.
Aerobic exercise is good for the entire body, particularly the cardiovascular system, including the heart and blood vessels. Further, according to an article published by the Harvard Medical School, this type of exercise triggers the brain to release a flood of endorphins, a neurological chemical that allows us to feel happiness, joy and an increased sense of well-being. If you catch yourself smiling while riding a bicycle, you’re not the only one.
Harvard Medical School also reports that cycling builds muscle (especially in the glutes and legs), helps improve balance and endurance and can increase bone density.
Even better, the health benefits can be appreciated by people of any age, because cycling is a low-impact exercise, making it easy on the joints and good for those with age-related joint problems.
• Have the right equipment: When cycling, it’s important that you’re visible, appropriately dressed and using reliable gear. Bicycles being ridden at night are required to have a white headlight in front that’s visible from at least 500 feet away and a red tail reflector that’s visible from 300 feet away. Always wear reflective clothing and a hard-shell helmet whenever you ride.
• Ride on the right side of the road: Whether you’re in a bicycle lane or riding with traffic, stay on the right side of the road and maintain a safe distance from the curb. Never ride against the flow of traffic.
• Use hand signals: Use hand signals to communicate with motorists. Turns require a hand signal 100 feet before the turn. Be cautious and aware of other drivers—it’s best to assume they cannot see you. Proceed with caution.