SHARING THE ROAD….Safely

Summer Bike Time
Summer Bike Time

Ahhh summer time.  This time of year I ride quite a bit. I have my usual training rides, but I also enjoy using my bike for transportation more so than during the winter. I love riding into work, riding with my daughter to her art class, riding down to the grocery store for the forgotten ingredient for that night’s dinner, riding to the library, riding down to the park to meet friends, etc.  Lots of good bike time.  All this riding means more time on the road with cars. I naturally tend to ride very defensively.  Despite this, I had a near miss with a motorist last week.  She came out of nowhere. Luckily we made eye contact and both reacted before it was too late.  It was a good reminder to take bike safety seriously. Here is a list of things to consider:

Planet Bike Light Set

Planet Bike Light Set

Be visible day and night: Light it up.
During the day wear bright/light colored clothing and be seen. If you ride at night or in fading day use a front and rear light (flashing red lights).  A bright yellow jacket at night looks grey. Look for jackets with reflective detail, or better yet wear a reflective vest.  I read that motorists tend to notice moving parts – think pedaling legs. I sewed some reflective tape on the back and sides of my shoe covers/ booties. This really is effective. You can buy reflective tape at most sewing stores.  A few years ago I was at a stop light in downtown Portland and I actually had a motorist wind down their window to comment on how visible I was. His exact words that I looked like a landing strip….

Metro's Bike Map

Metro's Bike Map

Choose your route wisely:
Opt for low traffic streets, wide streets, roads with bike lanes, or bike paths. Living in Portland there are a few good resources available for maps. One of my favorite maps uses a color coded system to show you which roads are low traffic, have a bike lane, etc. And here is another great map for Washington County.

Know what is behind you:
 Knowing what is behind you allows you to make turns and change lanes with confidence. Get comfortable with looking over your left shoulder while being able to hold your line (ride straight). If this is a challenge, invest in a handy bike mirror. I haven’t used one, but I’ve had clients and friends who like the Bar end mounted mirror; it’s smaller, out of the way, but still accessible, and inexpensive.

Obey Traffic Laws, including stop signs.

Obey Traffic Laws, including stop signs.

Obey the rules of the road:
Don’t run red lights or stop signs, don’t ride on the wrong side of the road, and don’t make illegal turns. Obey the traffic laws. Don’t do anything sudden and communicate (use your hand signals). Make your intentions known.

Tune-up:
Make sure your bike is in good working order. Once a year I change the chain, replace the tires and brake pads and get a general tune-up.

Ride defensively:
Expect motorists to not see you. Expect them to pull in front of you, not use their turn signals, or swerve into the bike lane. Make eye contact with motorists to make sure they have seen you. This is huge. It means riding alert, thinking ahead, and being on your brakes constantly.

Put your lid on

Put your lid on

Protect yourself:
Wear a helmet. Parents riding with children, even if it is just down to the park– set the example. Gloves are great for reducing the chance of getting blisters, but they also provide much needed protection if you take a tumble. Wear glasses with clear lenses or dark ones to protect your eyes from bugs, dirt and grit from the road.

Be prepared:
Carry equipment to take care of a flat tire (a saddle bag with tire levers and spare tube and a frame pump at a minimum). Carry ID. Consider getting a Road ID bracelet.  Carry some cash. Have food/water with you.  

Let me know what you would add to this list. I’d love to see it develop into something more comprehensive. Leave me a comment.

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