Bicycle Safety Tips
[alert color=red title=”License Your Bicycle: Once licensed, all the information required to identify your bicycle if stolen will be available to the police. Should your bicycle be stolen and recovered, you must be able to prove it is yours to get it back. ” align=center][/alert]
Biking is a wonderful way to get around Nevada. It is a clean and enjoyable alternative to automobiles. Unfortunately, co-existing with our increasing traffic problem can make a rider a little nervous. Here are a few basic safety tips to help make your ride safer and more pleasant.
Wear a Helmet
- Never ride a bicycle without a helmet. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that bicyclists wear a helmet that complies with Standards of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or the Snell Memorial Foundation (SNELL).
- Bicycle helmets can reduce head injuries by 85 percent. Select a helmet that fits snugly and sits flat atop the head.
- For children, use the extra padding that comes with the helmet to ensure a proper fit.
Wear clothes that make you more visible. Wear neon, fluorescent, or other bright colors when riding a bicycle.
Avoid Biking at Night
It is far more dangerous to bicycle at night than during the day. Most bicycles are equipped for daylight use and need to be adapted for nighttime use.
To ride at night, you should do the following:
- Ride with reflectors that meet U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission requirements. These should be permanently installed on bicycles for daytime use also. If a carrier is added, make sure the rear reflector remains visible.
- Add the brightest lights you can find to the front and rear of your bicycle.
- Wear retro-reflective clothing or material, not just white or fluorescent, especially on your ankles, wrists, back, and helmet.
- Only ride in areas familiar to you. Brightly lit streets are best. Always assume you are not seen by a driver.
- Stay alert at all times. Watch out for potholes, cracks, expansion joints, railroad tracks, wet leaves, drainage grates, or anything that could make you fall.
- Before going around any object, scan ahead and behind you for a gap in traffic. Plan your move, signal your intentions, and then do what you planned. If you are unsure, or lack the skill to handle an especially rough area, pull off to the right side of the road and walk your bicycle around the rough area.
- Be especially careful in wet weather and when there could be ice or frost on your path.
- Cross all railroad tracks at a 90 degree angle and proceed slowly.
- Use special care on bridges.
Ride in the Same Direction as Traffic
- Ride on the right side in a straight predictable path. Always go single file in the same direction as other vehicles. Riding against traffic puts you where motorists don’t expect you. They may not see you, and may pull across your path, or turn into you.
- Use streets with designated bike lanes wherever possible.
- Young children, typically under the age of nine, are not able to identify and adjust to many dangerous traffic situations, and therefore, should not be allowed to ride in the street unsupervised. Children who are permitted to ride in the street without supervision should have the necessary skills to safely follow the “rules of the road.”
Check for Traffic
- Over 70 percent of car-bicycle crashes occur at driveways or other intersections. Before you enter any street or intersection, check for traffic. Always look left-right-left, and walk your bicycle into the street to begin your ride.
- If already in the street, always look behind you for a break in traffic, then signal, before going left or right. Watch for left or right turning traffic.
- Be especially careful at intersections where a traffic rotary and a bike lane merge. The rule is that vehicles are to yield to bicycles when both approach at the same time, but don’t sacrifice your body to prove a point.
- Watch out for cars that aren’t moving! Allow four feet between you and parked cars. A careless driver could be opening a door in your path.
Obey Traffic Laws
- Bicycles are considered vehicles. Bicyclists must obey the same rules as motorists. Read your State driver’s handbook; learn and follow all traffic signs, laws, and rules for operating a vehicle on the road.
- Always signal your moves. Be courteous to pedestrians and other vehicle operators.
- Pedestrians get to go first. Yield the right of way, and keep a sharp lookout for danger in every direction if you have to adjust your path.
- Never wear headphones while riding as they impair your ability to hear traffic.
- Become familiar with the accommodations that are available for bicyclists in your area. These include bicycle lanes and routes as well as off road paths. Take advantage of these whenever possible.
Properly Adjust and Apply Your Brakes
- Always control your speed by using your brakes. If your bicycle has hand brakes, apply the rear brake slightly before the front brake. Always keep your brakes adjusted. If you cannot stop quickly, adjust your brakes.
- Consult your bicycle Owner’s Manual or have a bicycle shop adjust the brakes. When your hand brake levers are fully applied, they should not touch the handlebars. Each brake shoe pad should wear evenly and never be separated more than one eighth inch from the rim.
- Ride slowly in wet weather and apply your brakes earlier – it takes more distance to stop.
Secure Your Quick-release Wheels
- If your bicycle has quick release wheels, it is your responsibility to make sure they are firmly closed at all times and to use the safety retainer if there is one.
- Check your wheels before every ride, after any fall, or after transporting your bicycle. Read your Owner’s Manual for instructions and follow them. If you are even slightly confused about what “firmly closed” means, talk to your bicycle dealer before you ride your bicycle.
Assure Bicycle Readiness
- Before riding your bicycle, check to make sure all parts are secure, working properly, and that your bike is adjusted to “fit” you. Refer to your bicycle Owner’s Manual or consult a local bike shop for information about your particular bicycle.
Bicycle Security Tips
- A bicycle worth riding is worth keeping. By taking a few precautions, you may prevent a long walk home. Remember, most thefts are crimes of opportunity. Don’t provide an opportunity for a bicycle thief.
Always Lock Your Bicycle
- Many bikes are not even locked when they are stolen. Often the owner had a bicycle lock but didn’t use it, thinking “I’ll only be gone for a moment”. Remember, it only takes a couple of seconds to steal an unlocked bicycle.
Use a Good Lock
- The most common tools used by a bicycle thief are bolt or cable cutters. These tools are powerful enough to cut through chains, cables and padlocks up to 3/8 inch thick.
- A hardened steel chain or cable at least 7/16 inch thick with the same size padlock can provide a degree of security for an inexpensive bike in a low risk area. Try not to buy a chain that is hardened all the way through. Sometimes a 100% hardened chain can be broken with a hammer blow. A non-hardened inner core will still make it difficult to defeat with a hammer or bolt cutters, but the hardened outer jacket protects the chain from hacksaws.
- If you decide to use a cable, select one at least six feet in length so the frame and front tire can be secured. Remember, the heavier the chain the better. Inspect the chain for welded link construction. A non-welded or twisted chain can be defeated by opening one link with a spreading tool.
- A cable or chain requires an equally secure padlock. A good padlock should have at least a 7/16 inch hardened alloy steel shackle. (The shackle is the movable part of the padlock). The word “hardened” will be stamped on the shackle. The shackle should also lock “heel and toe.” If the lock has the double-locking feature, an indentation will be present on each shackle leg.
- The best security lock for a bicycle is a “U” shaped lock specifically designed for bicycles. Their construction discourages sawing, cutting or smashing. Shop around and avoid cheaply made locks. They are usually made of a lesser grade steel and will not stand up to an attack.
How and Where to Lock Your Bicycle
- Thieves tend not to like crowds, so park your bicycle where there is a high degree of pedestrian traffic. If someone tries to steal the bike, it is possible that they might be seen by a passerby.
- Always attach the bicycle to an immovable object, such as a bicycle rack, light pole, etc. Make sure it cannot be taken by merely lifting the chain or cable over the fixed object.
- Position the lock as high off the ground as you can so it’s difficult to gain leverage by bracing one leg of a bolt cutter against the ground. This will also reduce the likelihood of anyone trying to smash the lock or pry it open. Secure the bike by closing the lock’s shackle around some portion of the bike such as the handlebar or seat support.
- Always try to anchor both wheels as well as the frame with your chain or cable. If you have quick-release wheels, take the front wheel off the bike and lock it with the frame. Never lock your bike by the front or rear wheel alone. Thieves will as willingly steal part of your bike as the whole thing.