Friday, April 22, 2011

Urban Cyclists: Safety on the Roads

Happy spring time, cyclists and bicycle newbies! There’s nothing like spring breezes, soft sunshine and green trees to motivate us off the couch and onto our bicycles, whether it be for a ride around the neighborhood, a quick trip to the coffeeshop, or a new resolution to bike to work!

No matter what your reason for bicycling, we’re here to help you get around your town safely.
  • Know your routes and rules:

    If you plan on biking in your town, make sure to familiarize yourself with bike lanes and routes as outlined by your city. This information, along with maps of the designated paths, is usually available online through your city’s website. Bike lanes can either be a separate lane in the road separated by a slim median, or they may simply be painted into existing car lanes. Some have separate stop lights which will identify when it is safe for cyclists to cross or turn. Make sure you understand local laws concerning cycling so as to avoid getting pulled over (yes, cops can pull you over while biking!). In many cities, biking on the sidewalk is verboten. Similarly, many cities have strict laws regarding helmet and light use.
  • Safety gear for bikes:

    Nothing is more important for cyclists than having the right safety and protective gear. If you plan on riding in the city, a bike helmet is a must and in many parts of the country, it’s required by law. Make sure your helmet fits correctly and provides proper ventilation. Different types of bikes and cycling require different helmets: sports, road bike, or mountain biking helmets. For those biking at night, in low-visibility conditions (rain, fog, etc), or in areas of high traffic, we also recommend a safety vest and ample lights. All bicycles should be equipped with at minimum two bike lights, one in the front, and one at the rear. We also suggest placing a flashing bike light on your person – either attached to a backpack, or clipped to the band of your pants or shorts. With 40% of bicycle fatalities occurring between 6pm and midnight, utilizing a bike light could literally save your life!
  • Road biking:

    Biking in the city requires its own set of guidelines – always signal with your hands when you are about to turn, yield to cars and pedestrians, adhere to all road traffic rules, stop at stop signs, stick to designated lanes, etc. It is also important to remember when biking on roads to give yourself a reasonable distance from the curb. Hugging the curb while biking puts you in a precarious situation should you need to maneuver quickly to avoid a car or pothole.
  • Anti-theft measures:

    Many of the bigger bike metropolises have bike theft issues, but investing in a sturdy and durable bike lock can greatly reduce the chances of your bicycle getting stolen. The highest quality locks will be indestructible by hacksaws or cutters. We recommend U-Locks as they are strong and come in a variety of sizes! Remember to wrap your lock around both the front wheel and frame of your bicycle.

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