Safely Cycle Into Spring

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  • Safely Cycle Into Spring

As spring approaches and days get longer, our desire to hit the road and spin the winter cobwebs from our legs increases. The open road with fresh, cool air is much more enjoyable to ride than the trainer most people restrict themselves to over the winter.

Drivers are more distracted than ever with our “connected” lifestyle. There are a number of things cyclists can do to help themselves reach their destination safely and enjoy their ride.

Be Visible

If a driver sees you, they won’t hit you. Take a few simple steps to make yourself more visible. This is just as important during the day as at night since nearly 80% of all car/bike accidents occur during daylight.

First, wear brightly colored clothing. Most manufacturers, including Pearl Izumi, Bontrager, and Louis Garneau, offer hi-vis yellow, orange, and green jerseys in a variety of fits and styles to help make the rider stand out from his or her surroundings. These have come a long way from the solid yellow of yesteryear with more fashionable prints and coordinated bib-shorts and socks. You no longer have to sacrifice style for safety.

Next, use a tail light in the day as well as at night. Bontrager’s Flare R is an incredible light that provides 270 degree visibility up to 1 mile away during the day time. It has 4 settings (2 for day, 2 for for night), a USB rechargeable battery with up to 23 hours of run time and an LED bulb to help make you seen whenever and wherever you ride.

Ride visibly by avoiding driver’s blind spots, utilizing shared or bike lines, and claiming your lane by riding at least 1/3 of the way into the lane. It may seem counter-intuitive to put yourself into traffic to increase your safety but it works. Claiming the lane has other benefits too, click here to read more from “The Blog Of The Bicycle Accessory Experts”.

Background

Stay Alert

Staying safe on the road is solely dependent on the drivers’ awareness and the cyclist’s as well. If you ride defensively, stay alert and keep aware of your surroundings, you are more likely to avoid accidents.

A cyclist’s biggest blind spot is directly behind them and taking your eyes off the road to turn around can be difficult and dangerous. Many riders choose to use a mirror to help them keep their attention forward, while still being able to recognize a vehicle or other rider behind them. CycleAware and Third Eye make mirrors that can be mounted to your bike, eye-glasses, or helmet’s visor depending on what best suits the rider’s needs.

Garmin has gone way beyond a mirror and created Varia, a rearview radar to alert the rider when a vehicle approaches from over 100 yards. The Varia has a tail light which brightens and flashes as traffic approaches. When paired with Garmin’s Edge cycling computers or Varia head unit, you can be alerted of multiple vehicles with relative speed of approach and threat level.

Follow The Rules

This is really a no-brainer but it must be stated as many cyclists still haven’t caught on. Follow the rules of the road. Most importantly; turn from the appropriate lane, stop at all lights and signs, and ride in the direction of traffic. Also only ride where appropriate, which usually means on the road and not the sidewalk. If you ride as you would drive, the cars on the road will be better able to predict what you do, and where you will be.

Protect Yourself

Unfortunately, accidents do happen and therefore you must protect yourself by wearing a helmet. A helmet can literally be the difference between life and death. Helmets (like hi-vis jerseys) have come a long way. They are now much lighter, better fitting, with increased ventilation, and stylish.

Helmets are also safer. The new multi-directional impact protection system, or MIPS, is being used by many companies, like Giro and Bontrager, to help increase the effectiveness of a helmet. MIPS is a low friction layer in the helmet which allows it to rotate independently around the head and redirect impact energy. This reduces the rotational violence on angled impacts, or in simpler terms it deflects the brunt of the blow to help protect the head.

Please follow these simple steps as you get back in the saddle and stay safe out there!

sean hermes

SCHEELS Cycling Expert: Sean Hermes (Overland Park, KS)

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