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  • Safety Tips Originally Published in the Flat Tyre

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    • Sat, April 01, 2023 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

      Riding bicycles will not only  
      benefit the individual doing it,  
      but the world at large.   
      ~ Udo E. Simonis  

      With all of the recent stormy weather, there are a lot of sticks and other debris on the sides of roads putting cyclists at risk. On a club ride a while back, there was a rock in the bike lane on Foothill Expressway. Most people went around it, but a cyclist near the back of the group hit it directly, getting quite a jolt. Luckily, he managed to avoid a crash, but did get a pinch flat. It is important to point out these obstacles to the cyclists behind you.

      Communication is very important when bicycling in a group. When you see a hazard ahead or a car coming up behind (or in front on a narrow road), please communicate this to your riding partners. Usually a verbal signal is best such as "car up" or "rock" or "gravel." At other times pointing out a hazard with a hand signal is best (remember that when biking we always point at the hazard). The important thing is to COMMUNICATE!

    • Wed, March 01, 2023 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

      Like dogs, bicycles are social catalysts  
      that attract a superior category of people.  
      ~ Chip Brown, writer   

      We are transitioning into the spring season that is optimal for long rides. Our club’s great LTD rides are taking us further afield to ride scenic routes in remote areas. Don’t let bike mechanical problems leave you stranded or unable to enjoy a great day of riding. Study your bike to determine if it is in good condition and ready to ride. If you have been putting off that tune-up or trying to stretch that worn tire just a few more miles, now is a good time to get these maintenance items done. How many miles are on those tires? When was the last time you had your shifting cables changed or checked your chain for stretch? Are your brake pads worn down? Have you cleaned off the grit on your bike acquired while riding on wet roads?

      Most rides will not stop while you fix a flat nor is the ride leader expected to change your tire for you. Many of our organized rides are in remote areas without cellular reception where a mechanical issue may be quite problematic, so be prepared and get your bike in top shape!

    • Wed, February 01, 2023 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

      It is the unknown around the corner  
      that turns my wheels.  
      ~ Heinz Stücke  
      Long-distance touring cyclist  

      The recent deluge of storms has brought a significant increase in the amount of dangerous debris out on the roads. There’s more than the usual amount of glass, nails, screws, and fine wires from steel belted tires. I’ve personally experienced two flat tires during the first two rides of the year, one of which was a front tire blow-out. It’s a good time to aggressively replace tires that have a large number of miles on them, are showing wear, or are just plain old. So, check your tires and the records on the life of your tires (if you maintain that data) and replace tires that are nearing the end of their usable lifetime.

    • Sun, January 01, 2023 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

      The bicycle is the noblest invention of mankind   
      ~ William Saroyan   

      When riding in groups, it is critically important to communicate intended actions that may impact cyclists riding behind you. Many club members have been in crashes caused by cyclists slowing down or making unexpected turns, forcing a cyclist behind them to either crash into them or crash while trying to avoid them. It is important to call out “Stopping” or “Slowing” when taking one of these actions and to call out or signal when turning. Sometimes a cyclist must slow or stop quickly due to some issue ahead and it can be hard to think to call out, but it is something we all need to learn to do. At other times, a cyclist pulls over to take a picture or to make an adjustment on their bicycle not realizing their action may impact the rider behind them. The key is to always communicate your intended actions to the cyclists around you.

    • Thu, December 01, 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

      Whoever invented the bicycle   
      deserves the thanks of humanity.   
      ~ Lord Charles Beresford   

      This is my annual safety tip warning of the dangers during this time of year due to wet conditions or debris on the road.

      While we tend not to ride on days when it is raining, we often ride shortly afterwards. During this season, there are frequent areas with wet leaves on the ground that are SLIPPERY. In 2018, a club member broke her hip after taking a fall caused by sliding out while running over a clump of wet leaves.

      Stormy conditions also cause sticks and other debris to fall on the road, much of it ending up in the bike lanes. In the past few years, we’ve had incidents where we sadly lost two club members after fatal encounters with an errant stick in the bike lane going into their front wheel.

      After a rainy or windy day or while riding through damp conditions, be especially careful around wet leaves and keep a sharp eye out for dangerous sticks or other debris on the road.

    • Tue, November 01, 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

      You have no such accurate remembrance  
        of a country you have driven through  
      as you gain by riding a bicycle.  

      ~ Ernest Hemingway  

      With the changing season it is common to need an extra layer of clothing at the beginning of a ride and as the day warms to strip off the extra clothing. In the last few years we have had two riders get their jackets tangled in their back wheels. The first instance resulted in a frustrating hour of cleaning bits and pieces of clothing from the rear cassette but no crash. The second was much worse, resulting in a crash and broken leg! Make sure your gear is stowed safely with no chance of it getting into your wheel. Don’t ride with a jacket tied around your waist. And when you stuff a jacket into a back jersey pocket, make sure it is completely contained and doesn’t have a sleeve hanging down that can get caught in the rear wheel. So, when taking layers off, store them safely and don’t be like Isadora Duncan.

    • Sat, October 01, 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

      Bicycle Lawyer Gary Brustin’s presentation to the Western Wheelers a while back included a discussion of the most common bike–car accidents he sees in his practice. Many of the accidents he describes occur with the cyclist in plain sight of the driver. It’s not that the driver intentionally hits the cyclist; rather, the driver fails to notice or pay sufficient attention to cyclists properly riding on the road. 

      The number of these accidents can be reduced when cyclists use lights to be more conspicuous. A rear blinking light will make you much more conspicuous as drivers approach you from behind. A front facing light will increase your frontal visibility, reducing incidents of Left Turn Accidents. Some club members further increase their safety by adding bio-motion into the effect, putting lights on their ankles, the up and down motion making them even more conspicuous. Gary and many other sources recommend the use of lights. For example, see the WSJ video Simple Tips to Improve Cyclist Visibility, Safety. So, be safe and use lights when you ride.

    • Thu, September 01, 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

      Many cyclists believe they are safer and more comfortable riding as far to the right as possible. They fear being passed uncomfortably close by a motorist or they feel intimidated by impatient drivers. Riding too far to the right is very dangerous for several reasons: it puts the cyclist in the danger zone of poor sightlines and opening car doors; it invites motorists to attempt to pass too closely; and it takes away the cyclist's escape route to the right in the event of the unexpected. Take responsibility for your own safety and decide when to take the lane, even if other traffic must occasionally slowly follow you until there’s an opportunity to pass by crossing over to the next lane.


      For a more thorough discussion of how to position your bike when riding in traffic, see Chapter 2 of Bicycling Street Smarts: Riding Confidently, Legally, and Safely, by John S. Allen.

    • Mon, August 01, 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

      Every time I see an adult on a bicycle,   
      I no longer despair for the future of   
      the human race.   

      ~ H. G. Wells   

      On a recent Saturday I was fortunate enough to take the Bike Skills 101 class offered through Western Wheelers and taught by Lorri Lown of Savvy Bike. One of the many great skills she taught was the emergency stop. It’s much better learned through seeing and doing, but I’ll describe it here.

      The emergency stop begins with your hands on the drops so you can apply more leverage on the brake levers and be in a lower position. When the need for a fast stop occurs, you put your pedals to a neutral level position (one front one back), push your butt way back, optimally behind your saddle, and brake hard with both brake levers. You should instinctively know which brake lever is your front and which is your rear, but you use both to brake. Your front brake is providing most of the braking power, while your rear brake acts as a stabilizer.

      It will be next to impossible to think this through in an emergency situation, so the key is to practice, practice, practice. Lorri had us ride around a building with an empty parking lot and practice this stopping maneuver repeatedly, coming close to a complete stop before peddling again. We must have done at least twenty iterations of the stop during this drill. One needs to practice this maneuver until it becomes instinctual and automatic.

      The YouTube video Emergency stops on the bike gives a description and demonstration of the stop as well as mentions several of the related tips that Lorri emphasized in her excellent class.

    • Fri, July 01, 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

      The sound of a car door opening in front of you  
      is similar to the sound of a gun being cocked.  
      ~ Amy Webster  

      Many years ago on his way to a clarinet lesson, my son was riding his bike in the bike lane north on Mary Avenue toward the Don Burnett Bridge when the driver of a van suddenly opened her door right in front of him, causing my son to crash. He ended up going to the hospital with a broken collarbone.

      California Vehicle Code 22517 puts the fault of a dooring crash completely on the motorist opening the door.  But that can be little consolation for the cyclist getting severely injured.

      When there is a bike lane that goes along a row of parked cars, stay to the far left in the lane, or better yet, move left out of the bike lane altogether to give more room between you and the parked cars. As you ride, keep a watchful eye on the parked cars. If someone has just parked or if you see a car’s brake lights, give the car a wide berth. But more generally, scan the cars to see if there are people in them and be very cautious when you see someone in a parked car.

      For more info and tips, see the article in Road Bike Rider or see the article California ‘dooring’ Law Places Liability with Motorists for more info on the legal aspects.

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