Have you ever been out for a night ride and had a car pass by too close for comfort? Do you ride with a repair kit at the ready to handle any setbacks or quick adjustments on the go? Do you and your love ones, practice good habits when riding or sharing the road? Whether you’re a casual cruiser, the competitive cyclist, or a considerate motorist it’s always great to double check that you’re prepared and knowledgeable for any misadventures that the road or trail may throw at you. May is National Bike Safety Month, and I’d love to share some thoughts to keep you out and keep you safe.
For an easy tip, here’s rule one… wear a helmet! I’ve seen this first-hand, wearing a helmet can save your life… no matter how slow you’re riding it’s only to your benefit. There’s a ton of options out there, so if you want a casual or a high performance life saver you’re going to be covered, literally. Here are a few great brands to consider: Nutcase, Bern, Smith, Giro, and Poc. The key to a great helmet is all about fit, as well as making sure it’s appropriate for the level of activity at hand. Be sure to pop into your local bike shop and try on several options to ensure you get the best fit possible.
Safety is a necessity in our lives, though the concept of the word doesn’t exactly inspire joy or fun I’ll admit.To explore that a little further, you may believe bike lights aren’t as necessary during the warmer seasons ahead. To some degree you’re right; however, you may be interested to learn that most cycling accidents occur during daylight, as well as low-light times such as sunrise or dusk. So how do you add safety and a little character to such a dry subject? Easy, you add LEDs. Thanks to LED lighting you can ride with a little extra personality. It’s always important to BE SEEN & BE SAFE… but you don’t need to be bland about it. For front & rear visibility I’d suggest a simple solution, like the TWISTLIT - LED BIKE LIGHT which is an easy “on-the-go” item. It’s a small, simple, and easily stowable form of visibility that can give you that extra bit of attention to others on the road. Another safety item with a bit more color for your night ride is the SPOKELIT - LED SPOKE LIGHT. The SpokeLit is a quick and easy install to your wheel spokes, and greatly increases your side to side visibility. There are a ton of color options as well. But that’s just the bike… what about keeping you seen? This is where one of my favorite Nite Ize products comes into the fold... the SLAPLIT - LED SLAP WRAP.
The SlapLit takes me back to my youth and the days of the Slap Bracelet. I mean come on, we all had them… and how do you make that better? Yep, you add LEDs. What was once a toy from my early days is illuminated to keep you visible in the dark, and it’s completely bike friendly as well. Most riders wear the SlapLit around the ankle for visibility and to keep your pant leg away from the chain. I personally prefer wearing it on my wrist, which enables me to use the light as a turn indicator to motorist that may not be able to see my arms clearly on dark roads.
There’s more to safety than visibility though, you also need to be prepared. It’s great to have a general knowledge of your bike and how to maintain it. A great resource for this is your local bike shop or REI as most will offer free courses in basic bike maintenance. These resources keep you connected with your local cycling community and are a great way to pick-up the skills to keep your bike in proper form should you get a flat or need to make some basic adjustments. Before every ride I suggest checking that your brakes are working properly, and that you have good tire pressure. To that effect, you should always be ready to tackle these issues when you ride. I highly recommend carrying:
- A new tube/patch kit
- A bike tool
- A tire lever
- An air pump/CO2 system
Having these items with you, as well as the knowledge to put them to use can be the difference between a ride and the dreaded “hike-a-bike” home. One of my favorite ways to keep your repair kit organized is to keep them together with our new BETTERBAND™ 5" ADJUSTABLE STRETCH BANDS. This is an easy way to secure your tools together, and keeps them easily stowable in a jersey pocket.
So let’s do a quick recap: now you have a great fitting helmet, you’re ready to illuminate the day or night to be seen and safe, and you have some basic tools and bike knowledge to keep your rig rolling. That’s a great start, but be sure you know the rules of the road and how they keep you safe in your area. Here are a couple good resources to consider: bikeleague.org, safekids.org, as well as peopleforbikes.org. You may also be able to find some great programs in your neighborhood. Local to Colorado, I’ve had the great fortune of working with two programs that are reaching out to increase bike awareness and safety for children. Both are actively engaging youth communities to be safe, knowledgeable, and courteous riders. Our very own Boulder Valley School District is working with various age groups to develop good fundamentals early, as well as put these techniques to work on the road. It’s pretty inspiring to see a local education program coach student health and safety at such a priority. Another great program is tripsforkidsdenver.org which works with at-risk youth to foster life skills of personal empowerment. They focus on kids who have had no experience on a bike, while all the way creating achievement based programs in which these young participants can even earn a bike.
The important thing to remember on the road is to be safe, be courteous, and always remember to enjoy the ride. I can still remember when my Dad took the training wheels off my bike. For me it was a day of accomplishment and triumph… I found a new sense of exploration and freedom. For my family it was a sense of trust, a belief that they had instilled the proper knowledge and respect in their son to keep him alert, safe, and happy. I can say first-hand that this passion is still alive inside me today. I hope that you too have the same smile on your face during every ride.
Stay safe - Rubber side down,