Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Safety First: Bike Safety for Commuters

We're back! Thanks for your patience during our move.

We’ve spent a while talking about commuting by bike, and I promised an article on bike safety and advocacy, so here it is.

You all know you need to wear a helmet, protect your eyes with sunglasses, and your skin with sunscreen, but there’s more to bike safety than that when you’re riding among cars.
  1. Signaling: Learn and use hand signals when you’re turning. Yes, they’re dorky, and yes, I hate using them—but sometimes it’s necessary. I’ve never felt the need to use the “stop” signal, however, but I suppose it’s good to know.

  2. Watching out for parked cars: They may be parked, but they’re still dangerous. You’ve probably heard about a cyclist being “doored.” That’s when someone in a parked car opens a door just as a cyclist is approaching, usually causing the cyclist (and sometimes the door) some injury. People can’t seem to understand that they need to look before getting out of a car parked on the street, and for that reason, it’s best to ride at least 3-4 feet away from parked cars. If there’s no bike lane or the shoulder’s small, this means you’ll have to take the nearest lane. And that’s totally fine. Cars can go around you if they want.

  3. Speaking of cars going around you and tight shoulders... If a car gets too close to you, don’t be afraid to give their hood/door, etc. a smack. If a car is driving close enough to you that you can touch it, it’s too close. Let them know.

  4. Watch out for the dreaded right-hook: According to the MassBike website, “A ‘right-hook’ is when a motorist makes an abrupt right turn too close to a bicyclist, causing the cyclist to crash or make an emergency maneuver to avoid crashing.” In Massachusetts, this is illegal, but whether it’s legal or not, cars will still do it. Be especially aware at intersections of cars that may be turning right and keep a safe distance in case they’re not paying attention.

What the New Bicycle Law Means for you: A Practical Guide

NYC Bicycle Safety Coalition

League of American Bicyclists
Loads of information on bike security, safety, and gear, commuting tips, and more.

Mike’s Bikes: Riding Tips
Even more information and tutorials on pretty much anything you could think of involving bikes. Awesome site, and it’s all free. The “Maintenance and Repair” section is especially helpful.

Books I Recommend (PS, If anyone can tell me how to format so that the following books don't appear vertically, please e-mail me or leave a comment.)

Tune in next week for the final article in our commuting by bike series: bike maintenance for beginners.

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Together We Save said...

Thanks for the info.

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