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Western Wheelers Bicycle Club

  • Bike Safety Tips

    Originally Published in the Flat Tyre

    • Tue, December 01, 2020 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

      You never have the wind with you — either
      it is against you or you’re having a good day.

      ~ Daniel Behrman

      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 frequently 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 a lot of sticks and other debris to fall on the road, much of it ending up in the bike lanes. 2018 saw the tragic passing of member Troy Folkner after a crash caused by an errant stick in the bike lane going into his front wheel. Recently, a similar event caused a horrendous crash to long time cyclist and previous WW President Tim Ellis who faces a long recovery.

      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.

    • Sun, November 01, 2020 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

      Nothing compares to the simple pleasure     
      of a bike ride     
      ~ John F. Kennedy     

      I am writing this column to describe a dangerous behavior I have observed in other riders and have sometimes fallen into myself.

      While there are problem drivers, overall we are blessed with many courteous drivers. Often at intersections, drivers will wave cyclists through, even if the driver got there first or has the right of way. Unfortunately, this can lead to cyclists feeling privileged, assuming all motor vehicles will stop to let them through. One can get so used to drivers waving cyclists through, that when they come to a 4-way stop sign intersection that already has a car at one of the perpendicular streets, they’ll assume the car will wait for them to proceed. This is wrong and can lead to disastrous consequences.

      When you come to a 4-way stop that already has a vehicle waiting or a vehicle approaching the intersection before you, give them the opportunity to go first. If approaching at the same time, remember from your driver’s training that the vehicle on the right has the right of way. If the driver stops and waves you through, by all means go ahead, while giving a friendly wave or saying thank you to the driver. But always give the vehicle that has the right of way the opportunity to take advantage of it. Don’t assume that just because you can see that a driver notices you, you then have the right of way.

    • Thu, October 01, 2020 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

      Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to          
      keep your balance, you must keep moving
      ~ Albert Einstein

      This month’s Safety Tip comes from the article Why is Riding With A Cyclist Mentality Dangerous? by Coach Robert Wilhite in Road Bike Rider (recommended by Dave Fitch). Robert points out that the people in the back of a pack of riders have the best vantage point for assessing cars coming up from behind and have the best position to signal to those drivers the intent of the group of cyclists. Yet, riders in the back of a pack tend to have a “follow the leader” mentality without assuming responsibility to assess the safety of a turn or signaling to drivers behind the group.

      A specific example is when a pack of riders approaches a left-hand turn. It is typically the riders in the front that signal to the left and start shifting over lanes. Riders behind them, especially the ones towards the back of the group, may check that it's clear (though not always) but often don’t signal to drivers that the group is moving to the left. It is the responsibility of every rider in the group, no matter how far forward or back, to assess the safety of a lane change and to signal their intent. In particular, the riders toward the back of the pack have the greatest responsibility to signal to oncoming drivers what the pack is doing.

      Don’t blindly follow the leader. Always take individual responsibility to check that things are clear when going through an intersection or changing lanes and always signal your intent, even if you are at or towards the back of a group of riders.

    • Tue, September 01, 2020 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
      Cycle tracks will abound in Utopia       

      ~ H.G. Wells       

      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 is 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.

    • Sat, August 01, 2020 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
      One side effect of the COVID-19 outbreak is the large number of new people taking up bicycling, either for transportation or recreation. These new riders are more likely to make erratic moves on the road. It is more important than ever to be aware of the other cyclists on the road as you ride. As the operator of a bicycle, you are responsible for being in control and able to stop when a rider slows or stops in front of you. Keep a safe distance behind and pay attention.

      At the same time, be aware of riders following behind you. Warn other riders when slowing, and avoid sudden stops when possible. When your phone rings or there’s a beautiful picture to be taken, call out that you are stopping, make sure it is safe to do so, and then pull over to the far right of the road as you stop.

    • Wed, July 01, 2020 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

      A horse is a horse, of course, of course,       
      And no one can talk to a horse of course       
      That is, of course, unless the horse       
      is the famous Mr. Ed.       

      In keeping with the historical theme, this week’s safety tip is drawn from a column on the subject from an old issue of the Flat Tyre.

      While most of us are familiar with how to interact with cars, other bicyclists and pedestrians, many of us are less familiar with the proper etiquette when meeting up with and passing horses. When you meet up with a horse on a road or pathway, there are several things to know that help make the interaction a safe one for you, the person riding the horse, and for the horse itself. Bicyclists often frighten horses who sometimes bolt uphill when spooked, causing potential danger for everyone involved. Section 21759 of the California Vehicle Code gives people riding or leading stock animals the right to direct pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists to ensure their safety and the safety of their animals.

      When meeting with a horse on a road be sure to:

      • Slow down and pull over to the side
      • Actually stop if it’s a narrow road
      • Quietly greet the rider and ask if you are ok where you are
      • Follow any instructions from the person on the horse

      If you come up from behind a horse on a road or trail, be sure to slow down and as you approach the equestrian call out a friendly greeting from about 50-75 feet away. Ask the person what they would like you to do or how they would like you to get by. Find out if they would like you to get off and walk or pass slowly at the next safe spot. Most importantly, do not approach a horse from behind on a narrow pathway. If you see that you are coming up behind a horse or horses, you need to stop and wait until the path is clear.

    • Mon, June 01, 2020 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
      It never gets easier. You just go faster.          

      ~ Greg LeMond          

      As we move into summer, the days are getting longer and hotter. Due to the current pandemic, many sources of water like water fountains or bathrooms with running water are closed. So, extra care must be taken to stay hydrated.

      While hydration is important all year long, on warm or hot days we perspire much more and need to remember to drink frequently during a ride. Everyone has a different internal thermometer, but it’s important to know your own needs and tend to them in all weather. Like several others, I have an alarm set on my cycle computer to remind me to drink at regular intervals. With the shortage of water sources, on longer rides you should carry extra water, say two large water bottles and refill your bottles at every opportunity.

    • Fri, May 01, 2020 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

      Cycling can be lonely, but in a good way.         
      ~ David Byrne           

      With many of us riding solo or in small groups, it is more important than ever to be very conspicuous by wearing bright colors and using lights. Many people are out driving as a break from being sheltered in place and are often more interested in the scenery than watching the road. Unfortunately, they are often driving too fast. Wearing bright clothing increases your visibility so drivers can’t help but notice you from a distance or as soon as they round a curve. Bright colors or lights are especially effective on your ankles or feet as the up and down motion draws further attention. Blinking lights, both rear and front, are sure ways to be very noticeable to drivers (see the article in this issue about lights). Using a mirror lets you be much more aware of cars and bicycles approaching from the rear. The mirror can be attached to your helmet, to your sunglasses, or to your bike.

    • Wed, April 01, 2020 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
      Don’t Stand So Close to Me            
              ~ The Police             

      Here is some advice from the article
      Coronavirus & Cycling: Your Best Protection Tips, with additional info from other sources including medical professionals in the WW club. This is a rapidly evolving situation, so the advice might change between the writing and publishing of this article.

      • Don’t ride with others if you are not 100% healthy, even if you think it is only allergies. We all have a responsibility to reduce the spread of this illness.

      • Keep groups small or ride solo. Remember people can have the virus and not show symptoms.

      • Religiously practice social distancing, keeping at least 6 feet away - much more when behind another cyclist. To visualize this, imagine you and the other person sticking your arms out toward each other - if you can touch fingers, you are way too close. 

      • Bring antibacterial hand cleaner on every ride. Use the hand cleaner or wash your hands before, during, and after the ride, and at every restroom stop. Thoroughly wash your hands the moment you get home.

      • Minimize hand and finger contact with your eyes, nose, ears, and mouth. Become hyper aware of when you touch your face and do not do it!

      • Refrain from spitting or blowing your nose into the open air. This can easily transmit the virus (Bicycling article link).

      • Do not draft! When you ride behind someone, increase the distance to 2 to 3 seconds behind (count one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand), to avoid breathing their freshly exhaled air or droplets.

      • Slow down and ride defensively. This is not a time to have a trip to the ER and there might not be a hospital bed available for you.

    • Sun, March 01, 2020 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

      Get a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live.            
      ~ Mark Twain            

      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 judgement, and stay safe!

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