Cycling season is fast approaching – are you ready to cycle safely?

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Posted on April 13, 2022
Cycling season is fast approaching – are you ready to cycle safely?
A cyclist heads towards Canyon Bridge. Photo Vera Kochan

California, in general, enjoys a year-round climate that makes bicycling enjoyable in all four seasons. Lamorinda’s many trails and interesting road layouts serve to entice bike owners of all ages to hit the road, but hopefully not literally.

Before you even get on a bike, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration advises everyone to get a bike that’s right for you – it’s harder to control a fat bike. It’s also important to make sure the bike is well maintained, especially the brakes. Never have more than one person per seat. If that suggestion is ridiculously obvious, you’ve never watched “America’s Funniest Home Videos”. Be sure to carry all items in a backpack or strapped to the back of the bike – hands should be left free for signaling. It is important to plan your route when riding on a road that also carries motor vehicles. Choose routes with less traffic and slower speeds. Any sudden lane change could be a dangerous decision.

What you wear is just as important as how you ride. Although everyone over the age of 18 in California is not required to wear a helmet, it can protect you in the event of a fall. Wearing light clothing during the day and something reflective at night adds to your visibility. By the way, dressing up your bike with reflective clothing or lights for night riding is also a good idea. Tuck or tie shoe laces and pant legs prevent them from getting caught in a bike chain.

NHTSA warns that many bicycle accidents occur when the rider is not paying attention to the condition of the road itself. Hazards such as large rocks, potholes, railings and railroad tracks can cause them to lose control of their bike and cause a fall. It’s important to stay focused, especially when sharing the road with cars and trucks. A bicycle is a moving vehicle that must follow the flow of traffic. Bicycle “drivers” must also obey the same traffic signs, signals and road markings as motor vehicles. Most importantly, don’t text, listen to music, or do anything else that may cause a distraction.

According to the NHTSA, pedestrians can also become a hazard to cyclists, as their unexpected movements may occur at a time when they are unaware of an oncoming bicycle. If you pass a pedestrian, announce your presence “on your left” or “passing on your left” or use a bell.

As the weather warms, motorists should expect to share the road with more cyclists than during the winter months. Experienced cyclists can often cycle as fast as cars and are allowed to travel with traffic in certain circumstances. Drivers also need to be aware of their surroundings in car parks, at stop signs and when backing up, as bikes, being smaller than cars, can maneuver more nimbly in and out of tight and hidden areas. . When stopping to turn right, pay close attention behind you as a cyclist may approach with the same idea in mind (however, even though cyclists are required to follow the same rules of the road as motor vehicles , it does not change anything always happens). Also, passing a cyclist on a narrow road can be difficult. For maximum caution, pass when you can safely move into an adjacent lane.

Using common sense, courtesy and following the rules of the road will help everyone enjoy a safe biking experience.

For more information, visit: www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/bicycle-safety.

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