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Cycling Safely

You can read about and see pictures of our Bicycle Safety Rodeos and School Presentations here.

Cycling is a great sport and recreation that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. It is also a low maintance, low cost mode of transportation that does not pollute. It offers a freedom similar to motorcycling, but in some ways even more because bicycles can go places where motor vehicles are forbidden such as through parks, across school campuses, or on foot trails in the woods. Bicycles are virtually exempt from the parking problems motor vehicles have; one can simply lock his or her bike to the nearest post in most cases, or even bring the bike inside!

Like any outdoor activity, cycling has dangers that the rider should be aware of. Probably the biggest danger comes from sharing the road with cars. The cyclist should try to make him/her self very visible and predictable to the cars. Never take chances in traffic or "challenge" cars. They can't stop or maneuver suddenly. Another danger is from falling. An occasional fall is inevitable in cycling, but wearing the appropriate gear (ie helmets, pads, gloves, etc) can make the difference between getting up & re-mounting the bike or a trip to the hospital. Even injuries that do not require medical attention suck. Limping, blood stains on clothing, scars, sore joints, it's all bad. So be sure to wear gear that is designed for the type of riding you are into. There is more info about gear on this page.

A danger that is often overlooked in safety checklists is dehydration. Even if you are mindful of cars, wearing all your safety gear, have your bike in tip-top condition, & watching wear you ride, to be safe you must drink plenty of water. This is particularly true in hot weather. You should drink regularly while riding, not just when you feel thirsty. Futher down on this page is more info on proper hydration.

(Basic List)

1. Always wear a helmet

Even if you're just cruising the bike path or prowling the neighborhood.
When shopping for a helmet, make sure it's designed for bicycling, and meets
ANSI, Snell or CPSC standards. Be sure your helmet fits properly.
Use Your Head When it Comes to Bike Helmets
Bike helmet on Right The helmet should sit on top of your head in a level
position (make sure it does not tilt back).
Bike helmet on Wrong The helmet should fit comfortably and not move when
you jerk your head from side to side.
Make sure you always buckle the helmet straps (not too tight).

2. Always stop at the end of the driveway.

Many crashes between a car and bike happen when kids don't stop at the
end of their driveway to look for cars and simply shoot into traffic,
or they get hit while crossing a driveway on the sidewalk and are struck
by a car pulling out of the driveway.

3. Always ride on the right side of the road.

In most states, your bicycle is regarded as a vehicle when it's
being ridden on the street. You should always ride on the right side of
the street, just like you would in a car, even if you're just going a
block or two.

4. Obey traffic laws.

In most states, your bike is considered a vehicle, which means you have the
same right to the road as a car, but also means you must obey traffic laws
just like a car. Obey stop signs and stop lights, and learn and follow all
traffic laws and signals.

5. Be predictable.

Don't do anything that would surprise the driver of a car.
Don't swerve, weave in and out of traffic, run stop signs or stoplights.

6. Signal when making a turn.

It helps motorists a lot if they know what to expect.
Let them know where you're going by using proper hand signals
for turning and stopping. For example:

-Signal a left turn by holding your left arm straight out.

-A right turn is indicated by holding your left arm out,
with your elbow bent 90 degrees and your hand pointed up, palm facing forward.

-You can indicate a stop with a similar arm signal, only your hand
will point down with the palm facing rearward.

-Before changing lanes, always look behind you to see that it's clear.
Mirrors that attach to the handlebars or helmet make it easy to keep
an eye on fellow cyclists and cars, but mirrors are not a substitute
for a quick glance back when riding around cars.

7. Be seen-be visible to traffic and other cyclists.

Sometimes it's hard for drivers to see bicyclists because we're
smaller than cars. Wear light-colored clothing when you ride, and
try to get a brightly-colored helmet so you'll be easier to spot.
If you ride at night, ALWAYS have proper lighting! (There is
more info on this page about bicycle lighting). If you don't have lights,
have someone pick you up if you're out after dark, or walk your bike home.
Besides helping you see where you're going and helping cars see you,
LIGHTS LOOK COOL!! :) (Especially the flashing ones!)

8. Don't ride too close to parked cars.

Cars can still be dangerous when they're parked. The driver may suddenly open
the door in your path, or pull out suddenly. Leave at least three feet of
distance when passing parked cars, and be alert for cars that may be pulling
out onto the roadway in front of you.

9. Yield the right-of-way.

Cars have to slow down for walkers, and so do bicycle riders.
Keep your speed down when riding on a path, trail or sidewalk where you
share the path with walkers and joggers. Make sure other people know
you're coming, so they don't suddenly step into your path-call out to them
when you are approaching or passing, so you don't surprise them.

10. Don't clown around.

Never hitch a ride on a moving vehicle, or do stunts or wheelies on a
road with cars or trucks. Never ride with more than one person on a bike,
unless the bike has more than one seat-one person to a seat.

It's an excellent idea to learn how to change an inner tube.
Knowing how to do it beforehand sure beats having to figure it out
on the side of the road. Take a few minutes to learn how fix, or change,
a flat, and carry a pump and spare tube & a few tools on longer rides.
You'll be glad you did!