10 Bike Safety Tips from Trailnet

By  Danny Orthwein


1: Watch Out for Pedestrians

A common misperception is that bicycles should travel on the sidewalk.  While you may be able to reach out and give your pedestrian friends a high five, while on your bike you are considered vehicular traffic.  Running red lights, shifting into the crosswalks, and weaving through pedestrians can quickly turn into an accident.

2: Avoid Potholes

No matter how wide the road, attentive the rider, or new the pavement, we have all had a close call with these mysterious black holes of the roadways.  While you’ll likely only end up with some nasty road rash or a bent front tire, crashing into a pothole can turn a great ride into a long walk home.

3: Smile at Angry Motorists

The best defense when faced with angry motorists is to follow the laws and be courteous.  If motorists tailgate, honk their horn, or shout taunts when they pass – stay calm, try not to crash, and smile.

4: All Eyes Forward

Don’t forget this cardinal rule of the road – your bike goes where your eyes go.  Those roses to the left are pretty, but keep the flower admiring to your trips on foot.  Avoid a tragic or embarrassing end to your ride and keep all eyes forward!

5: Always Wear a Helmet

Accidents happen – even to the best, most coordinated, skilled bikers.  Wearing a proper helmet is a key part of being prepared.  Top off that multi-colored spandex outfit with your favorite matching (or not so matching) sleek helmet.

6: Plan Ahead

Whether you’re out for a Sunday ride, evening pedal, or your regular commute to work, remember the 5 P’s – Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.  Always have a spare tube incase of a flat tire. Know where you are going and how far you’ve gone to avoid getting lost.  No matter what the distance, proper planning ensures safe rides!

7: Bikes Can Fly

While you likely won’t get airborne for very long, zooming down hill, hitting a curb, or simply losing control are all ways to make a “flying bike.”  Remember to maintain an appropriate and controllable speed and be weary of obstacles.

8: Be Flashy

Disco maybe dead, but bling certainly is not.  When thinking about what to wear during your early morning or late evening rides think to yourself: What would Richard Simmons wear?   When selecting the proper biking attire and gear, visibility is key.  Flashing lights, reflectors, and the oh-so-popular headlight are all great ways to ensure safety.

9: Avoid Loose-Hanging Shoestrings

Bicycles are fine pieces of engineering brilliance consisting of perfectly-tuned gears, brakes, and a frame worthy of anything the road throws at it.  However those same gears have a tendency to eat shoelaces, pant cuffs, and any other loose-hanging material.  Be careful and remember to tuck those shoelaces in, role the pant legs up, and tie up any potential snags.

10: Big Wins

When on the road, remember that as a cyclist, you are legally considered a vehicle.  That designation grants you the rights and responsibilities of any motorist.  That said, remember, in physics – big things win.  Obey the rules of the road and watch out for those two-ton titans of the road we call cars!

Be sure to come out and show off your new bike safety skills at the Trailnet Ride the Rivers Century, Sunday, October 10.  This 100-mile bicycle ride features unbeatable views of our majestic Great Rivers, time along historic Route 66, two ferry crossings, and passes the Gateway Arch.

For more information on bike safety, Ride the Rivers Century or other Trailnet rides and events, visit www.trailnet.org