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The ABCs of Bicycling Safety Tips

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By Samuetta Hill Drew

Bicycling has become a new phenomenon in our city. With the addition of newly mounted bike stands filled with rentable green bikes strategically located throughout downtown and in select neighborhoods, our city has started moving in a slightly new direction. It’s no longer uncommon to see a citizen cycling day and/or night. Many have their own personal bikes, while many others are opting to use the rental ones. Regardless of the bicycle of choice, safety is always paramount because motorist traffic in our area is also steadily increasing.

Using the proper equipment and safety precautions are essential each time a bicyclist rides. When they ride extra safety precautions must be taken because they are sharing the roadways with vehicles which create many potential dangers. According to Injury Facts 2016, the statistical reports on unintentional injuries compiled by the National Safety Council states that 510,905 people were treated in emergency rooms in 2014 after being injured riding a bicycle. This is why the importance of following safety measures and using proper safety gear cannot be over emphasized. So let’s start with some ABCs of Bicycling as recommended by the League of American Bicyclists:

  • Air – always check your air pressure before riding. Spin the wheels to ensure the tires are not worn out.
  • Brakes – check to make sure your coaster brakes will stop the bike by spinning the back wheel and applying the brake. If the bike has hand

brakes, check to see that the levers don’t hit the handlebars when they’re squeezed. You can test them by lifting one tire up at a time, spin it

and squeeze the levers to see if the tire stops. The brake pads should also be kept clean, straight and make contact with the rims properly.

  • Cranks, Chain and Cogs – grab the crank arms and try to wiggle side to side. You should not be able to detect any movement. Spin the

pedals and cranks to see if the chain drives the rear wheel. The chain should look like metal, not rust or blank gunk. If the bike has gears, check to make sure the gear levers and derailleurs (gear-changing mechanism) work to shift the chain between gears.

Remember some bikes have quick releases on the wheels or the seat post. Therefore, check to make sure they are tight and closed properly.

Make sure you know your bike’s capabilities. Bicyclists must adhere to the same rules as motorists so you should be fully acquainted with the traffic laws. It’s critical that you use hand signals when turning and use extra precaution at intersections. Watch out for opening car doors and other safety hazards. Make sure your bike has reflectors on the rear, front, pedals and spokes and wear bright clothes.

Whether you’re riding for recreation or exercise just remember to Keep an Eye on Safety.