It is a privilege to live by a paved road bike trail (Legacy Trail) and I can often be found frequently riding it. However, the trail also welcomes new and inexperienced cyclists. While I love to see people being fit, starting something requires understanding some rules or it can be hazardous. While there are many rules to understand I wanted to focus on a handful of infractions I saw just yesterday afternoon while out riding.
I saw a women riding in the road against traffic. While this is a great practice for running, it is not for riding. Bikers are supposed to ride with traffic in the road and follow traffic rules.
I also saw an older gentleman riding in his khaki work pants without a strap holding his pants to his legs on bottom preventing them from getting caught in chain. This can happen easily causing a major spill. Pants straps are inexpensive and often reflective offering an additional measure of safety. Better yet, purchase some cycling shorts or tights (the padding is very helpful – unless you like to have a sore butt!).
I saw a handful of people without helmets. For me and my children, this is a must. Nobody intends to get in an accident and you never know when it will happen so wear a helmet just in case. All cycling races and triathlons require them for a reason. Helmets save lives, so wear one. Plus they look cool – I think.
If you are trying to be cool by talking on your cell phone while riding – don’t. It simply is not cool. It’s stupid. You need to be paying attention to the road and traffic. Wait to call or text your friend or stop to do so. It is great to have a cell phone for emergency’s. I even recommend having identification on you, just in case you are knocked unconscious by an unexpected accident. Get Road ID. Receive a dollar off by using the code: RID546483.
While in the road or on a trail, bikers need to stay to the right, except to pass. It is common to say “On your left” when you are passing. Slower riders always yield to faster ones. Please have all family members stay to the right of the yellow line when you are on the Legacy trail.
While music is great to workout to, I would recommend NEVER riding with music or your iPod. It is simply too difficult to stay alert to your surrounding. Not even one ear bud is acceptable. You need to hear your surrounding without distortion.
Also, it never hurts to bring lights with you. At this time of year it often gets dark all of the sudden it seems. This includes using a white front lamp and red flashing tail lamp. Most sporting goods stores carry them. You need to be seen, plus it helps you see. It is always best to ride during daylight hours. I also recommend wearing bright colored cycling tops/jerseys with pockets. Cyclists that can be seen are much safer (and alive).
Regular bike maintenance also keeps you safe. Make sure your breaks are working, your tires are inflated to their proper levels, and your chain should be lubed (never use WD40 – it will rust your chain) once a week if you are riding regularly.
Wear polarized sunglasses. Not only do they protect your eyes from the sun, but they can prevent a bug-in-the-eye that can cause a major accident and there are swarms of gnats on the trail. (You may want to close your mouth when you go through one too – unless you want extra protein in your diet or a bug in the lungs).
There are many more safety rules and some time ago I posted a great video on bike safety. I encourage all riders (new and old alike) to review it. Look under fitness for the article posted March 18, 2009 entitled: Bicyling Safety First