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  • Bike Safety Tips

    Originally Published in the Flat Tyre

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    • 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.

    • Wed, June 01, 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

      Think of bicycles as rideable art  
      that can just about save the world.  
      ~ Grant Peterson  

      Riding a bicycle on roads with cars, trucks, potholes, bumps, animals, and other bikers requires constant attention. One of the most critical lessons for new cyclists is that they must learn to pay attention at all times. The one time that you space out for a few minutes is often when the unexpected occurs. This doesn't mean you can't relax — that’s why we are out cycling! But it’s very important that even when the scenery is incredible, the sunshine soothing, and the conversation invigorating, you must pay attention to the road and the surroundings.

    • Sun, May 01, 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

      Cyclers see considerably more of this beautiful world  
      than any other class of citizens. A good bicycle,  
      well applied, will cure most ills this flesh is heir to.  
      ~ Dr. K. K. Doty  

      One safety complaint I frequently hear is about riders being passed dangerously. Please avoid passing on a rider’s right side whenever possible! Passing on the right side often startles a rider and most riders’ first reaction when startled is to move right. Communication is the key. Let the person in front of you know when you are passing, but especially in the rare instance when you must pass on their right.

      When riding with a group, position your bike directly beside or behind your companions. Do not partially “overlap” your wheels because a sudden change of course would likely cause the trailing bike (and probably others) to crash. For a vivid example of what can happen, see this short YouTube video The Danger of Overlapping Wheels.

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

      Life is like riding a bicycle: you don’t  

      fall off unless you stop pedaling. 
      ~ Claude Pepper  

      On group rides, it is all too easy to just blindly follow the person in front of you as he or she goes through an intersection or crosses lanes. But what is right for that cyclist might not be right for you. Don’t always follow what others are doing. Be sure that you make your own safety choices during a ride. Always look, listen, and think before proceeding. Just because the person in front of you goes through a stoplight, rolls through a stop sign, or changes lanes for a turn does not mean it’s safe for you to do so. There have been many near accidents caused by riders blindly following the actions of a rider 10 or more feet in front of them. When going through an intersection or changing lanes, look in all pertinent directions, use your own judgment, and stay safe!

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

      The bicycle is a curious vehicle.  
      Its passenger is its engine.  
      ~ John Howard  

      One of the crashes reported for 2021 occurred when a cyclist fainted while riding due to being unknowingly dehydrated. The cyclist sustained a concussion and spent a day in the hospital. During a previous year, another club member experienced a serious medical issue due to not drinking water during a long ride. Don’t let this happen to you.

      Good hydration is important all year long. On warm or hot days we perspire heavily and need to drink frequently to replace lost fluids and stay cool. On cool days when perspiration is not as obvious, it can be easy to forget to drink for long periods or even for an entire ride. Everyone has a different internal thermometer, but it’s important to know your own needs and to tend to them in all weather conditions. Like several others, I have an alarm set on my cycle computer to remind me to drink at regular intervals. When there is a shortage of water sources on longer rides, riders should carry extra water—say two large water bottles and refill them at every opportunity.

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

      When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, 
      when work  becomes monotonous, when hope hardly 
      seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out 
      for a spin down the road, without thought on anything 
      but the ride you are taking 

      ~ Arthur Conan Doyle 

      Many WW routes have regroups listed on the ride sheets (e.g. LDT, FFS). We try to place regroups where there is room to get off the roadway, but use common sense and caution as well. Remember not to block traffic or hinder cars that are turning. It’s safer and more courteous to pull well off the road. Even on individual rides, call out when stopping and pull as far off the road as possible so as not to block cars or other cyclists.

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

      Melancholy is incompatible with bicycling.    
      ~ James E Starrs   

      1930–2021   

      Many of the great rides we have in our area travel hills and have long descents. There are some important considerations for safely handling descents. Begin at home the day before the ride by making sure your bicycle is in good condition. Make sure your tires and brakes are in good condition and tires are fully inflated. Inspect your wheels for any misalignment or looseness. During your ride when descending, move back in the saddle to prepare for emergency stops. Many experts recommend getting "in the drops", where you have full braking leverage. Take care when passing fellow cyclists, always passing to the left, and announcing yourself before you pass. But most of all, SLOW DOWN! This is not a race and our roads are not in perfect condition, especially in the winter months when rain, leaves, and other debris are frequently present. You will enjoy the ride more if you are relaxed and not pushing the limits of your bike, road conditions, or your own abilities.

    • Wed, December 01, 2021 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

      No hour of life is lost that is spent in the saddle.    
      ~ Winston Churchill    

      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.
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