Americans have been choosing to explore using bicycles more than ever lately. This is in part due to the global pandemic which made staying local a priority but also since biking is a relatively easy activity for people of all ages, abilities, and fitness levels.
While many of us starting using bicycles to travel down the road or across our small towns to see friends at a young age, the increase in individuals biking along with the increase in distracted driving has led to 857 bike vs vehicle accidents resulting in casualties in 2018 according to the NHTSA (that number has only risen in the last two years to over 1,000).
I know many of you remember the basic rules of cycling - ride with traffic and obey all traffic signs but there are a few more rules and reminders that will reduce your chances of being injured (or worse) when biking. But before I discuss those -- let us go back to the basics. These basic tips/reminders will assist you in being prepared, getting your entire family biking and ensure you enjoy your next bike tour of your community.
● A bike -- there are various types and choosing the one that is right for your activity will assist you in feeling comfort and enjoying your ride.
○ Mountain - this type of bike has wide knobby tires that allow you to ride it in loose dirt and over obstacles. These bikes also have flat handlebars and rugged frames and components including suspension to help you navigate rocky trails. While you can ride this type of bike on a road - your ride will not be as smooth or as comfortable.
○ Hybrid - this type of bike is meant for cycling on roads and/or sidewalks but can be used on a trail. They have a slightly larger wheel than a mountain bike, but the tire is also thinner. Along with the fixed upright handlebars, these bikes provide a comfort level that most recreational bikers enjoy.
○ Road - this type of bike is identified by the skinny tires and their drop handlebars. These bikes are strictly used on roads (and sidewalks if needed) due to the efficiency and speed you get from their large thin tires. The multi-position handlebar offers grip variations from upright to more aggressive which is helpful for longer rides.
○ Triathlon - this type of bike is a specialized road bike that has forward bull-horn shaped handlebars and aerodynamic bars. The aerodynamic bars allow the rider to lean forward in an aerodynamic position which assists then with speed and comfort. These bikes are designed and fitted to that one ride exclusively.
○ Kids bike - it is usually a hybrid model that has been designed to be scaled down to be safe and developmentally appropriate for children.
● A helmet - every ride should start with putting on your helmet. It is also equally important to ensure your helmet fits correctly so it can protect you the most. We included the official NHTSA helmet fitting guide because well they are the experts but here are the basics:
○ It should fit over your entire head and cover your forehead leaving about 1-2 fingers open above your eyes.
○ It should be level across your head - not tipped forward or backwards
○ Your side adjustment straps should be located right below your ears and make a perfect V - use your fingers to check
○ The buckle should be located directly under your chin and should be snug. Not too loose and not too tight. There should be no gap but it shouldn’t squeeze either.
○ Be sure to check all of these by lightly leaning your head towards each shoulder and to your chest. If you helmet moves - make the necessary adjustments.
Read the flyer below for a step by step guide on fitting your helmet.
Safety is a huge area that could be a blog itself but I am going to once again focus on the basic safety areas which include being seen and riding both predictably and defensively.
● No matter the type of bike - it should have at least 4 reflectors on it (one on each wheel, one on handlebar and one on back of seat
● Wear reflective clothing - especially before/at dawn and/or dusk. You should consider additional lighting as well (headlight, blinking back light, lighted vest)
● Ride on well light roads/trails
● Be alert to your surroundings
● Anticipate what others will do
● Drive with the flow, in the same direction as traffic.
● Obey street signs, signals, and road markings, just like a car.
● Assume the other person does not see you; look ahead for hazards or situations to avoid that may cause you to fall, like toys, pebbles, potholes, grates, train tracks.
● No texting, listening to music or using anything that distracts you by taking your eyes and ears or your mind off the road and traffic.
· Drive where you are expected to be seen
· Signal and look over your shoulder before changing lane position or turning
· Avoid or minimize sidewalk riding
· Pass pedestrians with care by first announcing “on your left” or “passing on your left” or use a bell
· Slow down and look for cars backing out of driveways or turning
Remember: proper equipment and education will always provide a more enjoyable experience no matter where you bike.
If you need more information or have questions, please reach out to us or to Wolf Pack Multi sport who is located inside of our headquarters/retail location at 8 Covington Street in Perry, NY.