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Western Wheelers Bicycle Club

  • Safety Tips Originally Published in the Flat Tyre

    • 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!

    • Sat, February 01, 2020 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

      This month’s safety tip comes from viewing the terrifying video Ron Dell’Aquila sent recently to WWBC. It shows over 50 cyclists crashing while crossing railroad tracks. Several of the cyclists look to be quite seriously hurt.


      Crossing a railroad track at a shallow angle runs the risk of your wheel catching on the metal rail or the gaps next to it. The danger is much greater when the tracks are wet, or while breaking during the crossing. The simple key conclusion from the study associated with the video is that the crash rate is dramatically reduced when the crossing angle is greater than 30º, and is eliminated at greater than 60º.

      There are a couple of skewed track crossings that are in my common riding area. One is North bound on Winchester Blvd near 85 in Los Altos, the other is when the tracks cross Cox Ave. The key is to turn away from the tracks in advance, then veer back toward the tracks to cross them at a greater angle. Of course, if either turn puts you into the lane of traffic, you’ll need to make sure it is safe to do so.

      If you know of other dangerous train track crossings, please comment on this safety tip.

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

      If you are like me, you tend not to ride on days when it is raining. But with all the rain at this time of year, we often ride shortly after a day with heavy rain. During this season, there are often places 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. 2018 also saw the tragic passing of member Troy Folkner after a crash caused by an errant stick in the bike lane. After a rainy day or while riding through damp conditions, be especially careful around wet leaves or other debris on the road.

    • Sun, December 01, 2019 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

      Bicycle Lawyer Gary Brustin’s recent presentation to the Western Wheelers 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.

    • Fri, November 01, 2019 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

      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. Start 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. You will enjoy the ride more if you are relaxed and not pushing the limits of your bike, road conditions, or your own abilities.

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