Yep-That’s my knee and you’re welcome for sparing you the gore.
You may know me as one of the “running” writers, but the fact is, I’m also a triathlete. My first triathlon was completed on my hybrid and then I upgraded to a fancy road bike and began clipping in last year, but I’ve been biking since before I can remember. With Michigan experiencing about 6 months of winter this year, my pretty bike hasn’t seen actual pavement yet, but outdoor rides are coming.
Today is Memorial Day and many of you may be heading out on fun rides with your families. This got me thinking, maybe I should talk to all of you a bit about bike safety. Whether you just ride casually with your kids or are serious about cycling, there are a few “rules” that everyone riding on two wheels should remember.
- ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET! Let me repeat that. ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET! Forgive me for yelling, but this happens to be one of my soapboxes. I worked for many years on an inpatient Brain Injury rehab unit and I cannot begin to tell you how many of our patients may not have needed our services if they’d just put on a helmet. Everyone, regardless of their age or cycling experience, should wear a helmet. Parents who put helmets on their kids but don’t wear one themselves make me crazy. Set a good example. Protect your melon. Not only should you wear a helmet, you should wear one that has been properly fit to your head and your activities (there are different helmets for more “extreme” riding and some helmets are designed for triathlon and speed). Just like you’d buy your running shoes at a running store, buy your helmet at a cycling shop. Your brain is the only brain you’ve got.
- Follow the Rules of the Road. Remember, a bicycle isn’t a toy, it’s a vehicle. In most areas, rules for bikes follow the rules for cars. Ride with the flow of traffic – this means you should bike on the same side of the road as you would drive. Obey all traffic laws with regards to stopping, who has the right of way, etc. Be alert for parked cars and don’t dart in and out of traffic. Signal lane changes (learn the hand signs or at the very least, point in the direction you plan to go). Basically, act like a car.
- See and Be Seen. Just as if you were out running, you want vehicle drivers to see you. This means reflective clothing and lights, especially if you plan to ride near dawn, dusk or after dark. (The safest would be to not ride after dark but we all know sometimes that’s when you’re able to get in your ride.) Many areas have laws requiring white light/reflectors on the front and red light/reflectors on the back of your bike. Check your specific area for details.
- Be in Control of Your Bike. Make sure your bike is in good working condition every time you ride and that it has been fit to your body. This means inflate the tires, check lights/reflectors, make sure your quick-release tire is secure, and check your brakes. Have a bike shop check the height of your seat and handlebars. Keep at least one hand on your bike at all times and if you must carry things (school books, whatever), use a back pack. If you are riding wearing cycle shoes (clipped in), make sure you practice clipping and unclipping many times before you take off. You don’t want to end up with a banged up knee like in that picture.
Have I missed anything? What’s your number 1 tip for staying safe while biking? Follow these bike safety tips and enjoy what’s left of your Memorial Day weekend.
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