Also - Check out our Commuting Tips and Employer's Reference Guide for biking to work.
The Month Before
- Get Friends and Family involved. We all have friends and
family who think we are nuts for commuting to work on a bicycle. Now is the time
to get them interested in commuting. Talk about fitness, stress-relief the
freedom of riding a bicycle to work. You've all No matter what you skill level
of commuting, it can still be intimidating for many people. There are lots of
commuters out there and we can help people "get in the groove" and become
comfortable with bicycling to work.
The Week Before
- Determine your route to work. The route you drive to work may not be the same one to bike to
work. First, choose roads that have wide outside lanes or paved shoulders.
Collector streets (those that are at the half mile mark between major streets)
are often a good choice. Second, drive the route during your normal commuting
time to determine potential traffic problems. Third, bicycle the route on a
weekend to examine the road surface for potential problem intersections and
the approximate time it will take you.
- Talk to your employer. Inform your supervisor that you will be commuting by
bicycle. Ask where the bicycle can be parked during working hours, and what,
if any, advance arrangements need to be made.
- Check out your bike. Make sure your bicycle is in proper working order. Not only
should all the mechanical parts be in good repair (e.g. brakes, tire, gears)
but the bicycle should be adjusted properly for seat height, handlebars, etc.
If you do not have a helmet, borrow one or buy one. If you will be riding at
night, you need and must have a light.
- Check out the weather for the upcoming week. Just keep an eye on the weather just to make
sure you don't need any extra gear or need to make any alternative
The Day Before
- Dress for the occasion. Wear a helmet. It's also a good idea to bike in comfortable
cycling clothes; either pack a bag with your work clothes, or bring your
attire the day before you cycle (so they won't get wrinkled). Also make sure
you have a place to change and freshen up, and keep a "kit" of toilet articles
and a towel at work.
- Pump Up. Make
sure your tires are properly inflated. If they are low, it will make riding
- Check out the weather tomorrow. Plan accordingly...
The Day of the Ride
- Don't cycle on an empty stomach You will need energy for your ride, so eat a good breakfast
and take along something to eat along your way.
- Get an early start. The first time
you bike to work, allow yourself a little more time than you think you
will need. If you tested the route on the weekend as suggested you will
know the approximate time it takes. BUT remember, rush hour traffic may
slow you down.
ENJOY the Ride... You've earned it!
How Far and How Long?
Base your decision on how far to bike on your experience, confidence, and abilities.
Distance:Typically, 3-5 miles is an ideal distance for bicycle commuting; although, some seasoned riders go much further.
Time: Riding 10 miles per hour won't break a major sweat, and you can cover 3 miles in less than 20 minutes.
Mix it Up
Even if you live far from work, you can still incorporate bicycling into your commute:
- You can take your bike with you on many buses, or you
can store your bike in a locker at light rail stations. Contact your local
transit provider to find out about their bicycle programs.
- Ride your bike to meet up with a carpool or vanpool.
What should I wear while biking?
Afraid of spandex? Here's some help.
Shield your eyes from bright sunlight, road debris, wind, and insects by wearing protective eyewear.
Your clothing should be comfortable and should not get caught in
your bike. For short commutes, regular clothing is adequate - just be
sure to strap your right pant cuff to keep it from getting greasy from
the bike chain.
Gloves can make your riding more comfortable and protect your hands.
For longer trips, many prefer to wear clothing specifically designed
for bicycling such as shorts, tights, jerseys. Experiment with what
works for you and invest in quality pieces over time.
You will need special clothing for riding in cold weather or the rain.
Another important part of your bicycling attire is a properly
fitting helmet. Helmets can prevent head injuries, so wear one every
time you ride. Your local bike shop will be glad to help you find a
Looking good for work
It IS possible to ride your bike and still look professional for work! All it takes is a little planning.
- Consider taking in a week's worth of work outfits on
a day you don't ride; store them in a locker or in another secure place.
- You can carry your clothes with you on your bike by
using a garment-bag type pannier. Experiment with packing your clothes;
options include rolling your garments or folding them in tissue paper to
- If your worksite doesn't have shower facilities,
consider joining a health club nearby or see if a neighboring business has an
- Be sure to have a fresh towel and washcloth for quick clean-ups (and remember the deodorant!)
All About Bike Helmets
Why wear a helmet? Because nearly 1,000 American bicyclists die in
crashes each year-and around three-fourths die from head injuries.
Hundreds more suffer permanent brain damage.
Many of these are experienced, careful riders--maybe just like you.
And most of these head injuries can be prevented with bike helmets.
You say a helmet's too much of a hassle? It'd make your head sweat?
Mess up your pretty hair? It's too expensive? You'd look like a geek?
Think how good these sayings would look on your gravestone.
Construction: Nearly all helmets today are hard shell. They
have a thin plastic surface on top of a soft foam core. The outer
plastic allows it to skid when you hit rough pavement, rather than catch
on something and break your neck.
Rating: Look on the inside of the helmet: It should have a
CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) certification sticker. The
CPSC rating has been required on helmets sold in the US since March
1999. Older helmets may still have Snell, ANSI or ASTM certification.
Helmet Fit: You must have a good fit. A snug fit means that
if your head hits and skids, the helmet stays in place. Most brands of
adult helmets come in two or three sizes, and you make them fit by
adjusting the chin strap and putting foam pads around the inside. Don't
wear your helmet back on your head because it won't protect your skull
if you fall forward.
Test for a Good Fit: The helmet sits level on your head. You
can't shift the helmet to the front, back, or sides of your head. With
the straps correctly tightened, you can't possibly get the helmet off.
If the helmet fails these, adjust the straps, put in different pads, or
try another size. Ask your bike shop staff to help you with a proper
Cost: Compared to the cost of emergency room visits--or
funerals--helmets are cheap. You can get a decent CPSC-rated bike helmet
for around $30, although they can run up to $150 or more in price. More
costly helmets usually aren't much safer, but they have better
ventilation, weigh less, and look cool.
Ventilation: A helmet's ventilation depends on front-to-back
airflow. Good airflow comes from long, wide air vents. Bald,
light-skinned cyclists beware: big vents can cause weird tan lines!
Weight: Cheaper helmets are usually not much heavier than
expensive ones--and most cyclists adjust to them easily. If you think
you want an light helmet, test-ride a heavier one to make sure.
Look: You can pay a lot of money for style. But don't be
fooled. No matter how aerodynamic a helmet looks, it won't help you go
Kids Especially Need Helmets: Children aren't as careful as
adults when they ride--so they should always wear helmets. And always
put helmets on kids whom you're carrying by bike; in a collision, very
little protects them from flying off of the bike or trailer.
Another good "How To" article from HowToAdvice.com entitled"How To Wear A Bicycle Helmet".
Ideal bikes for commuting
Just about any bike in good condition will be suitable for bicycle commuting, depending on your personal needs
Mountain bikes have fatter tires and endure rough streets, but they are heavier and don't provide for the fastest commute.
Road bikes are the fastest but the dropped handlebars may be
uncomfortable for novices, and high-pressure tires are unsuitable for
Hybrids are similar to mountain bikes but have tires and gears suited for city streets.
Cruiser or city bikes are often simple, one-speed bikes that work great for short trips.
Fitting Your Bike
Your bike must fit you. That's your first important safety feature.
If you're not comfortable, you're more likely to ride badly and hit
something. Getting exactly the right fit depends on many
things--including your size and riding style--so you should talk
to a bike dealer if you have fit problems. But first, consider these
- Frame Size: If
your bike's frame is too tall, too short, or too long, it's very hard to
adjust other things to make you comfortable--so you might need a new bike.
- Check the Height: Stand with your bike between your legs. Measure the space
between the highest part of the top tube and your crotch. For city riding a
one inch to three inch space is safest. (This is a general rule. It's
different for other situations, such as off-road riding or with bikes that
have a sloping top tube.)
- Frame Length:
If, when you ride, you feel overly stretched or have pain in your neck,
shoulders, or back, your frame might be to long. Try moving the seat and
handlebars closer together. Also, some people--including many women--have
torsos shorter than what most bikes are made for. If you're one of them, you
can get a bike with a shorter frame height and raise the seat higher, or get a
bike made for people with smaller torsos.
- Seat Height: A seat that's too low will
strain your knees, while a seat that's too high will make it hard for
you to pedal and put your foot down. Here are some ways to get the right
seat height for city riding:
- Sit on your bike and push one pedal all the way
down. Put the ball of your foot on the pedal. If your seat's high enough
your knee should be slightly bent.
- If your hips rock from side to side when you pedal,
your seat's too high.
- Don't raise your seat so high that less than two
inches of your seat post extends into the frame. Most seat posts have a mark
showing how high you can raise them.
- If you have to raise your seat higher, get a longer seat post.
- Handlebars: After you've set your seat height, set your handlebars so you feel comfortable. Some things to guide you:
- Start by raising or lowering your handlebars so
they block your view of the front axle when you're sitting on your bike.
- With your hands on the handlebars, you're elbows
should be slightly bent (not locked).
- Lower-back pain often means the handlebars are too
far away, while upper-arm or shoulder fatigue often means the handlebars are
too close to you.
- Try raising or lowering the handlebars. Or moving
your seat forward or backward. You can also change to a shorter or longer
- Don't raise your handlebars so high that less than
two inches of your handlebar stem extends into the frame.
- Most stems have a mark showing how high you can
raise them. If you have to raise your handlebars higher, get a longer stem.
- Rotate your handlebars so that they put even pressure across
the palms of your hands without bending your wrists in a strange way.
- Seat Tilt:
Last, adjust your seat tilt for comfort: Many cyclists keep their seats level,
while others have them tilted. If the front of your seat's tilted too high
your butt will hurt, and if it's tilted too low you'll slide forward and
strain your arms.
- Saddle Soreness: If you haven't bicycled in a while, expect to be sore at
first; chafing or soreness should get better with time. If it doesn't, the
first thing to check is the seat adjustment; see Seat Tilt above and Seat
Height. If adjusting doesn't help, look into a seat pad, a wider seat, a seat
with a hole in the middle, or padded or seamless cycling shorts.
Inspecting your bike
Regardless of what kind of bike you're riding, take a few minutes to do a quick safety check to give you more riding confidence.
Brakes: While standing next to your bike, push your
bike forward while squeezing each brake individually to be sure they
are capable of locking up the wheel.
Wheels: Wheel nuts and levers need to be tight, and
the wheel should not wobble. Check for loose or broken spokes. Lift
each end of your bike, spin the wheel to ensure your brake is not coming
into contact with your wheel rim.
Tires: Check your tires for the manufacturer's
recommendations on air pressure. Use a hand-pump to avoid overinflation.
Tires lose a little air every day. If your gauge says a tire is more
than five pounds under the needed pressure (printed on the side of the
tire), add air. No
gauge? Push each tire hard against a curb. If you can flatten it, add
Seat: Your seat should be positioned so your knee is slightly bent when the pedal is at the bottom of a pedal stroke.
Handlebars: Make sure your handlebars can't move side-to-side when you are holding the front tire still.
Shifting: Try all of your gears, shifting each gear lever
from high to low. You have a problem if the lever sticks, you can't
shift to all gears, the chain
rubs, the derailleur, or the chain jumps off the gears. These are
usually caused by worn or dirty cables, or a derailleur that needs
cleaning or adjustment.
Pedals and Cranks: Your pedals should be securely
attached to the crank arms. Check for loose bearings by trying to wobble
a crank arm side-to-side.
Gears: Gear cables should slide easily and should not be frayed or rusty.
Chain: Be sure to lubricate your chain regularly,
especially if you have been riding on wet streets or in the rain.
A dry chain can lock up or break suddenly. If your chain squeaks when
you pedal or it hangs up when you pedal backward, it's time to
- Grab the bottom of the chain loosely with a lint-free
rag. With the other hand turn the pedals backward, sliding the chain through
the rag. Pedal the chain around twice to remove surface grime.
- With one hand squeeze or spray lubricant onto the
chain, and with the other hand pedal the chain backward so it goes completely
- Repeat the first step to get the excess lubricant off the chain. Extra lube can attract dirt.
Reflectors and lights: You must have a light while
riding at night. See your local bike shop for recommendations for your
needs and budget. Ensure that all reflectors are clean and properly
Loose Parts: Pick up the bike and shake it hard. Check
and fix anything that rattles.
Be sure to take your bike to a shop once a year for a routine check-up!
Carry a Took kit
You can be prepared for minor repairs and adjustments on the road by carrying a few key tools:
Tire pump for your type of valve.
Tire levers for removing the tire easily off the rim.
Spare inner-tube to fit your size tire.
Tube patch kit.
Small adjustable wrench.
Flat and Phillips screwdrivers (short & small, preferably).
Small Allen wrenches and a spoke wrench to fit your bike's needs.
$1.35: A dollar bill will prevent your tube from protruding through a tire gash and 35 cents to make an emergency phone call.
Again, your local bike shop can recommend a tool kit best suited for your bike.
Where to park your bike
You've ridden your bike to work, to run an errand or just out for a bite to eat. Where can you park your two wheeled beauty?
Bike Racks: Find a bike rack. Bike racks are becoming more common place in front of businesses and other places of employment.
Sign Poles: Sign poles aren't the best places to
lock your bike. Before locking to a pole, check whether you can pull it
out of the ground. Also check how easily a thief could remove the sign
and slide your bike over the top of the pole.
Parking Lots: Some public parking lots provide bike
racks and or lockers. Those that don't may still allow you to park, for
a small fee. If you forget your lock, look for an attended parking lot.
Indoors: A good way to avoid theft: Park your bike
indoors. Some stores and buildings allow bikes inside, if only for a
short time. Some employers provide a bike room, with showers and lockers
Commute by Bus & Bike
Over 100 Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART) buses have
bike racks installed to make your commute easier and to make the bus system
accessible to cyclists. 2000+ cyclists use the bus racks each month!
It's called the DART Bike & Ride and you can use it anytime during the year! With a bike rack on every regular, express and commuter-route bus you can take
your bike just about anywhere - work, special events, parks, even your favorite bike trail! Find out more!
Lock it up!
Whether you have a top-of-the-line bicycle or something just to get you around town, it's important to keep it locked up.
Always lock up your bike, no matter how short-term you may need to
park your bike. Lock it to a stationary object in a highly visible
are best but can be heavy. You may also wish to lock up (or take with
you) any easily-removable components like your wheels and seat.
Talk to your employer about securing a location for your bicycle if no facilities currently exist.
Accesories for your bicycle
To make your ride more comfortable and easy, consider the following accessories for your bike:
Baskets/racks/bags: You'll need to put your stuff
somewhere, so think of which items you will need (briefcase? books?
clothes?), and select the storage device best suited for your needs.
Water bottle/cage: Staying hydrated is of paramount importance when biking, so be sure to carry water with you.
Bells & horns: Any kind of sounding device can alert others of your presence, especially when passing (you can also use your own voice).
Rear-view mirror: Although you must always look
over your shoulder to check for traffic when changing lanes, a rear-view
mirror is a good supplement. Different styles allow mirrors to attach
to your bike, your sunglasses, or even your helmet.
Fenders: Stay clean and dry in wet weather by affixing fenders to your bike.
Lighting: If you ever ride in the dark, you must use lights. Check with your local bike shop for your own needs
Riding at Night
Attract attention! Here's how to be seen at night:
Reflective tape: Use white or yellow in front, yellow or red in back.
Reflective clothing: An orange safety vest or reflective (Illuminite) clothing increases your
visibility. Don't wear dark clothes without some light-colored material too.
Jacket: Bright color with reflective piping in back.
Rear reflectors: Big ones are best. Get one at least three
inches wide. Only red is legal but amber
ones can be 8 times brighter. Reflectors work only if they're clean, so
remember to wipe them off. Make sure it's pointed straight back and not
up or down.
Rear light: Purchase a good LED light 3 LED lights work good, but ones with 5-7 LED lights work the best.
Flashing lights: Many cyclists use the red or amber flashing LED lights. Some can be seen a half mile away.
Pedal reflectors: Attached to the pedals. Because they move when you pedal, they attract more driver attention than fixed reflectors.
Reflective ankle straps. In any color, they attract attention from many angles.
Wheel reflectors: These white reflectors attach to spokes and are highly visible to approaching cross traffic.
Headlight: Battery-powered is best. Get the most powerful one
you can afford. Use white, not amber or red. Generator lights can be
bright, but many go dark when
you stop, so they're poor for city riding. If you ride at night a lot,
consider rechargeable batteries--you'll save money and our landfills.
Flashlight: In a pinch, attach one with rubber bands, a bungee cord or duct tape.
Only three percent of bike rides happen at night--but over half of
all cyclists killed get hit while riding at night without lights. You
need bike lights to be seen by others, not necessarily to see.
A car's headlights are visible from 3,000 feet and that's what most
drivers look for. Since your upper body's at eye level, it's important
to wear white, light-colored, or reflective clothing at night.
When you're riding after dark, consider the following:
Defensive Moves: At night you can't see where drivers are
looking, and some are drunk. Slow down from your
daylight speed. To make sure drivers see you when you're stopped, flash
your lights by twitching your handlebars back and forth. And watch cars
closely; be ready to get out of their way.
Know Your Route: If you're new at night riding, take streets
where you know the potholes and traffic
so you can focus on riding in the dark. Also, if you're not sure about
nighttime crime in a neighborhood, ask some one who knows the area--or
don't ride alone.
Night Blindness: Don't bike at night if your visual acuity is
worse than 20/40 with glasses or contacts, or you can read a far-away
sign or address fine in daylight, but not
at night. Check with a doctor if you're unsure
Riding in rain, sleet and snow
Iowa has a host of many different riding conditions during he
year. A mixture of rain, sleet, and snow can occur over half the year.
With the snow and ice covered roads and trails, you'll still want to be
careful on wet and wintery days. Here's what to consider:
Start of rain, sleet and snow: Don't race to beat bad weather after it starts. That's when streets are slickest because
automotive oil on the road spreads before it washes away. Slow way down on turns and don't lean as much.
Wet Streets: It's easy to slip when things are wet. Watch out
for slick things like metal-grate
bridges, temporary construction covers, manhole covers, painted
pavement, and leaves. Don't turn or brake on them. On metal bridges, if
you have thin or
smooth tires don't ride across; put both feet on the road and scooter
across, or walk your bike on the sidewalk.
Puddles: Don't ride through a puddle if you can't see the bottom. It could be a deep pothole that'll throw you.
Reduced Vision: Remember that in rain etc., motorists and cyclists can't see as well. And it takes longer for us all to stop. Just go slower.
Braking: When brake pads and wheel rims are wet, they take up
to ten times longer to work. Dry them by applying your brakes far ahead
of where you want to
slow down, causing your pads to wipe the rims. To dry them faster, pump
the brakes by applying them lightly, then letting go, over and over.
People who bicycle in the cold and rain aren't nuts; they're just dressed right. But how?
Protection & Venting In Wet Weather: If your clothes keep
out rain they might also seal your sweat in. To
vent perspiration, wear a jacket or poncho that lets air in from the
bottom, back, or sides. Front and rear fenders work well to keep your
legs, feet, and back away from road spray.
Layer for Cold: You don't need a whole new set of clothes to
bike in the cold. Instead, wear a sweatshirt
or jacket and add t-shirts, light sweaters, and tights or long johns in
layers as weather gets colder. By wearing light layers you can also
clothes if you warm up while cycling. And if you sweat a lot, the layer
closest to your skin should be a wicking material (synthetic instead of
let sweat evaporate as you ride.
Try different clothing to find what makes you comfortable at different temperatures and in the rain. In
extreme cold or wind chill, cover your hands, feet, and ears well. Here are some other ideas:
- Cool: Light
jacket or windbreaker; long pants or tights; light gloves.
- Cold: Thicker
socks (or a second pair); heavier gloves; hat.
- Freezing: Sweater or another torso layer; glove liners under gloves: neck gaiter, turtleneck, or
scarf; headband or earmuffs, add face mask, knee socks, heavy shoes or shoe covers.
To equip yourself for rain, consider the following:
- Wear light, bright colors: yellow, orange, lime green, or pink or anything reflective.
- Head: Cover it
unless you have thick hair. A tight-fitting hood covers your ears and fits
under your helmet. A baseball cap under your helmet will keep rain out of your
- Hoods: Don't
use loose-fitting hoods that block peripheral vision.
- Neck: High
collar or hood keeps water from going down your neck.
- Hands: Use
gloves with a water resistant shell or a waterproof liner.
- Rain gear: Wear
a waterproof jacket. If sweat's a problem, wear a loose or vented jacket, a
waterproof poncho that lets in air from below, or a cyclist's rain cape that
hooks to handlebars to keep it out of your tires.
- Leg gaiters:
often made of nylon; keeps your pants legs dry.
- Feet: Wear synthetic or wool socks and in really wet weather wear rubber boots.
And now for your bike in rainy weather:
- Brakes: Grime
builds up on brake pads, making them squeak or scratch your rims. Run a rag
between each pad and the rim, like shining a shoe. Occasionally remove the
tire and check pads for wear.
- Bearing damage:
After biking in wet weather put your bike indoors so bearings can dry.
- Fenders: they
beat almost anything to keep you dry on wet pavement. Plastic ones are cheap
and light, but can crack if installed wrong.
- Rims: When wet,
brake pads grip aluminum rims better than they do steel.
- Tires: Fat tires have better traction. Tires less than 1.25 inches wide work better on wet streets
when under-inflated. Use tires with a herring-bone tread pattern
You've checked your bike, customized it for your needs, packed your
clothes for work, and are decked out in some new threads ... you're
roll. If you don't know what route to take, map out your commute and
see what options are available.
- Streets with low traffic volume and lower speeds are
ideal for novice riders and most pleasant with less noise and exhaust
- Look for roads with wide shoulders, wide curb lanes,
and bike lanes so there is enough room for cars and bicycles.
- Check for good pavement condition. Avoid potholes and
- Ride your route on non-work days prior to your
initial bicycle commute to see how long it will take you and to make any
necessary modifications to your route.
- Be careful of drainage grates and bridge expansion joints that can trap your wheels.
The rules of the road
Although bicyclists legally have the same rights as automobile
drivers on the streets, bicyclists are much less visible and need to
Most veteran bicyclists recommend assuming that drivers do not see you
at all while you are riding.
Ride in the same direction as traffic in the right-most lane.
Obey all stop signs and traffic signals.
Use hand signals to communicate.
Be courteous to other cyclists, pedestrians, and to drivers.
Be as visible as possible by wearing bright and reflective clothing,
using lights at night, and avoiding areas with poor lighting.
Be predictable in your riding.
Emergency Moves: When you're moving fast and something gets
in your way, slamming on the brakes
doesn't always work. This section describes some emergency moves that
you can practice in a quiet parking lot. Start slowly, then work your
Practice--so when you need an emergency move, you make it
automatically. This section also tells you why knowing how to fall might
keep you from serious injury.
The Quick Slow-Down: When you stop fast, your weight shifts from your back wheel to the front. Even if you
use both your front and back braked your back tire can skid and start to lift. To slow down quickly:
- Push yourself as far back on the bike as you can. This keeps weight on the back tire.
- Put your head and torso as low as you can so you don't flip.
- Squeeze both brakes. If the back tire starts to slide or lift, ease up on the front brake.
The Instant Turn: Use the Instant Turn when a car turns in
front of you while you're going straight. To
make a very sudden right turn, steer sharply left--towards the
car--which makes you lean right. Then turn right hard, steering into the
The Rock Dodge: The Rock Dodge is just a quick turn of the
front wheel to miss a rock or hole right in
front of you. At the last second, turn the front wheel sharply left and
back right again. Both your wheels should miss the hazard.
How To Fall: Most serious bicycle injuries involve brain damage, so the best way to protect
yourself in a fall is by wearing a helmet. Otherwise, it's not easy to prepare for a fall. But if you have time to think:
- When you're about to hit a car, don't try to wipe out first; instead, stay upright as long as you
can. If you get low you risk going under the wheels or hitting the sharpest parts of the car.
- If you go flying, tuck your head, arms, and legs into a tight ball and try to roll when you hit the
ground. If you stick your arms out you're likely to break them, or your collarbone, or both.
Dogs: Here are some of your options when a dog chases you.
- Just stop. Some dogs just want a good chase and will give up when you're not moving.
- Stop and get off your bike quick. If the beast looks like it
wants to attack, try to keep the bike between you and it. Shout
something commanding, like Go home!
- Try to outrun it. This might be a good idea if there's more
than one dog. Don't try to outrun it if
you're not sure you can; too many cyclists have wiped out when running
dogs jam their front wheels. If you go for it, try a squirt with your
water bottle to
slow Fido down. Don't try to hit the dog; you may lose your balance.
- Use a dog-repellent spray. But be careful: wind could blow the stuff back into your face.
- If a dog bites you, get to a doctor or hospital right away for
a rabies test. If you know where the dog lives, tell the police so they
can check with the owners.
Pedestrians: The law says you should yield to pedestrians in
crosswalks. This can
test your patience downtown, where hordes of pedestrians cross against
the traffic light when they see no cars coming. So what happens when
down the street, come to a green light, and find a dozen people
scurrying through the crosswalk? Warn them by shouting or using a bell,
whistle, or horn.
Remember: pedestrians look for cars, not bikes.
If there's still a crowd in the crosswalk, or pedestrians freeze,
you should slow down or stop. If
you don't stop, when you're close enough for the pedestrians to see
you clearly, go carefully between them. Try not to go between parents
and their kids.
Railroads: Some railroad tracks cross streets diagonally. If
you go over these tracks without changing your direction, your tire
might get caught between a
track and the road. Instead, try to cross tracks at a right
angle--especially when the street's wet.
Rocks and Gravel: When you bike over gravel, don't turn suddenly or use your brakes; you might wipe out.
Assault: It's rare, but it can happen. If somebody's
determined to attack you, they will... Whether you're on foot, bike, or
in a car. If you're afraid to bike
in a certain neighborhood, don't--or go with friends and stay on busy
Here are some other tips:
- The best defense is to stay alert. If you see some
one who looks like they'll hurt you, stay away from them.
- Don't stop, for any reason, in places where you think
you're about to be attacked.
- Carry a defensive spray, such as a Mace or dog
repellent, where you can grab it quick. Remember that people who use this
stuff often get it blown back in their faces.
- If you get knocked off your bike by a mugger, don't fight. Try
to notice what they look like, then go to the nearest phone and call
Other safety tips
Some other pointers for a safe ride are:
Watch that door! Look out for people getting out of
their parked cars as you're riding along in the right lane - it's best to stay
out of "the door zone" as you don't have time to watch for doors and react
- Watch for vehicles turning right. Leave space for
cars to turn right by moving to the LEFT part of the right lane as a courtesy
at signalized intersections.
- If a bus is at a bus stop, avoid passing the bus on
the right; otherwise, you run the risk of colliding with passengers getting
off and on the bus
- Always carry identification.
- Carry change to make any necessary pay phone calls
- If you need to stop your bike in an emergency, use
both brakes and apply the front brake a little harder than the rear. If your
rear wheel starts to skid, ease up on the front brake. When braking hard, sit
far back on your seat to bring weight to the back of the bike to avoid getting
pitched over your handlebars.
- Ride perpendicular across railroad tracks.