By Michelle Poirier 
BELLEVILLE – Spring has sprung and it is time to break out the bikes.
Belleville and the surrounding areas offer a variety of bike trails that any cyclist can use.
For people in the Belleville area new to biking or people more advanced but wanting to add a social aspect to biking, Doug’s Bicycle  offers Road Group Rides twice a week.
All skill levels are welcome to these rides and the groups are geared toward speed. People who are comfortable riding around 20 km/h, which is an entry-level speed, will all be grouped together; faster riders around 25 to 30 km/h will be in a separate group; and really fast riders (over 30 to 35 km/h) will ride together, according to Tyler Allsopp, owner of Doug’s Bicycle.
“Often newer cyclists or people who haven’t been out much in the area don’t really know where to go and what roads are the safest and smoothest,” Allsopp said. “We run this group ride to make sure people are getting out and they’re being safe.”
There is no cost to attend these rides and people call ahead or just show up at 6 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays starting at the Quinte Sports and Wellness Centre .
They ride on roads and longer streets that are not busy. Rides are between 30 and 60 kilometres, according to Allsopp.
Doug’s Bicycle started road rides last year for just women, at a pace of 20 to 25 km/h. They have a relaxed group atmosphere with a good social aspect, Allsopp said.
“Having a group atmosphere and being able to ride with other riders who are maybe more confident or that you can learn from – I think that’s good for everyone,” he said.
The Quinte region also has a mountain biking club. QuinteMTB  offers its members group rides through rougher terrain.
There are many benefits to riding a bike. Most car trips are for distances less than three kilometres, and in 15 minutes the average person can bike 3.5 kilometres, according the David Suzuki Foundation . The foundation says it wants to help people reduce their carbon footprint and offers many reasons why people should get on a bike instead of driving:
- For trips of up to 10 kilometres within the city, cycling is usually the fastest way to travel.
- It costs about $200 per year to maintain a bike, plus an additional $300 for accessories — compared to the $7,500 annually the average Canadian pays to own a car.
- Thirty minutes of brisk cycling several times a week reduces the risk of developing coronary heart disease, adult diabetes and obesity by as much as 50 per cent.
There are rules to cycling and ways to make sure that the ride is safe. If the cyclist is under the age of 18 he or she legally has to wear a helmet, and cyclists above that age are encouraged to. If riding in an urban area, cyclists must be on the road and not the sidewalk. They must follow the same traffic rules as cars, according the the Ontario’s Guide to Safe Cycling . The guide has images that show the proper hand signals for bikers in traffic.