A KnowTheFundamentals Publication unless otherwise noted.
This page will be devoted to bicycle safety including the rules of the sidewalk, keeping pedestrians safe, how to cross a road, attachments, cleaning and maintenance advice and all other things related to bike fun.
Children, did you know…
Check out the Dept of Tranportation Bicycling in New York State website for more info on everything bikes.
All Bicycles should have proper safety equipment like reflectors, lights, and having your child wear a helmet.
- Reflectors: All bicycles should have reflectors on the spokes of both wheels, and on the front (white) and back (red).
- Lights: If your child is out after or during dusk, you must provide a simple flashing lights for both the front and back.
- Bell. All bicycles must be provided with at least a simple bell, to alert unknowing pedestrians to take caution around your child.
- Tires: Keep those tires at proper air pressure, it’s safer and will make peddling easier for your child.
- Locks: Always lock up your child’s bike as the experience of having it stolen will probably upset your child. Also you don’t want to make it tempting to another child and thus inadvertently turn them into a future criminal.
- Alarm: There are a few choices, but I’ve found one that is very cheap and works great, giving 5 beeps if someone disturbs the bike as a warning, and then sounding for 15 seconds if they persist in tampering with your child’s bike. It also allows you to program your own code, is easy to install and use. It’s the Gallop Bicycle Alarm (link) goes for only $7 and works great. Can’t get better than that price especially considering the cost of a bike. I just ordered one and no, this isn’t some sort of Google AdSense Link. I don’t make money off this site and the links I provide are just things I found on the internet that I’m sharing. Thus, the name of the alarm so you can google it yourself if you like ;-).
- Advanced Bike Horns: There is a new and very loud (as loud as a car horn) horn called AirZound. I used it today when an SUV decided to ignore my signal that I was going straight, and overtake me, and then cut me off while he decided to make a right hand turn, ignoring the clearly marked right-turn only lane. The horn at least put him on notice that his behavior would no longer be unnoticed.
How to get your child to wear a helmet: It is actually pretty easy and takes about 1 minute of effort. You hear your child say “but I don’t want to wear a helmet.” Your response is simple, “we don’t leave until you put on the helmet.” Then just stand there silent and repeat it calmly, always calmly, until your child complies. If they refuse then put the bicycle away. Also start at a very young age, like 3 or 4, and include the helmet with everything, like using the Razor, scooter, tricycle or whatever. Once they get used to the feel of it on their head, they’ll start to take it for granted and it’ll never be a problem again.
The Rules of the Road-Adults
That’s right, I’m talking to you, the adult bike rider. If you think that riding down the wrong side of the road, going the wrong way down a one way street or running stop signs or red lights is all okay, you are WRONG. You might be putting yourself at risk, but you might be putting others at risk as well. I just saw a guy run a red light and turn up a one way street going the wrong way. At his speed if a car had to swerve they might end up on a sidewalk causing injury to someone who not only was minding their own business but was operating themselves in a safe manner.
- Don’t ride down a one way street the wrong way.
- Do stop at stop signs and red lights, or at least slow down significantly. Yes I understand that it takes physical effort to speed back up, but that’s part of the exercise you are doing in the first place.
- Use hand signals.
- Don’t weave or make sudden turns.
- Let other riders you’re about to overtake know by saying ‘passing on the left’.
- Never undertake vehicles and always give them plenty of room if they’re turning. Stay cautious at intersections and again, don’t undertake (undertaking is when you position yourself between a vehicle and the curb in an effort to pass them. Since the vehicle might turn right you put yourself in danger).
- Always wear a helmet. If your head falls the 6 plus feet that it is off the ground, even while stationary, it’ll hurt without a helmet. If you add the 15 to 35 mph to that fall you’re going to suffer some life changing injuries if you’re not properly protected.
- If you need to turn left at a very large avenue with heavy traffic, instead stay to the right, go through the intersection and join traffic going in that direction, wait for the light to turn green and go. Simple and safe.
- Only one person per seat. It is illegal to have two people on a bike made for one person.
- Wear brighter clothing. By doing so your presence is ‘bigger’ and vehicles can easily avoid you.
- Try to stay with the flow of traffic. If you are only capable of riding 10 mph, then stay on the side streets.
- Fit your bike with proper lights, reflectors and a horn.
- When your child is young, say 8 and younger, I say it is okay to ride behind them on the sidewalk (despite the law regarding those 12 years or older) as it is important as a responsible adult to keep everyone safe from injury. This will allow you to tell them to stop if you see a problem or problematic situation ahead. Stop to allow pedestrians to pass and let your child know that sidewalks are for pedestrians first, bikes second, so it’s ‘our’ responsibility to stop for them.
- Never ride in front of your children, but instead next to (if you’re on the road and they’re on the sidewalk) or behind them. This will allow the adult to see dangerous situations as related to the child bike rider.
- When riding with your child, always stop and walk your bike across a street. Remember a bike goes a lot faster than walking and from a vehicles point of view can feel like a child is darting out into traffic. The walk signs are only a first level of protection, you eyes are the final verdict as to whether it’s safe or not to cross. Also, by walking you’ll avoid collisions with right and left turning vehicles. It’s fundamental to giving a driver enough time to react and stop their vehicle.
- All adult bike riders are required to follow and obey the laws governing the operation of a motor vehicle. It’s not a joke. Laws have been developed based on past experiences and comprehensive thinking by many people all over the world. I think ‘en mass’ they know what they’re doing just in case you don’t. It’s easy to stay relatively safe, just follow the law.
Registration: Be sure to photograph your bicycle and it’s registration number (underneath typically), and report it stolen if it is stolen. You may or may not recover it, but the more people make reports of stolen bikes the more police will take action and stop the couple of people who are probably doing most of the thefts. Register your bike(s) if your community offers it. Add an identification number on all of it’s parts with etching (police departments sometimes offer this service), so your bike can not be ‘chopped’ by thieves.
Online Bicycle Education, Traffic Skills 101 HERE
The City of Houston is proud to be a partner with the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) in the development of this online course to represent the classroom portion of the League’s Traffic Skills 101 course. The BikeEd program is designed to develop the craft and science of bicycling, the ability to use a bicycle with confidence and competence for pleasure, utility and sport under various roadway, climate and traffic conditions.
With this convenient on-line course, we hope that you will find valuable tools to provide you with knowledge and confidence to ride safely and in a commendable manner. By completing the online portion of Traffic Skills 101, you are on your way towards becoming a bicycle ambassador. Your example will demonstrate to your co-workers and to our residents your bicycling initiative. We hope that your positive example and endeavor motivates Houstonians to recognize the value of bicycling and they consider riding themselves.
To promote bicycling for fun, fitness and transportation and work through advocacy and education for a bicycle-friendly America.
We do this by representing the interests of the nation’s 57 million cyclists. With a current membership of 300,000 affiliated cyclists, including 25,000 individuals and 700 affiliated organizations, the League works to bring better bicycling to your community. http://www.bikeleague.org/
Non-Fatal Bike Injury Statistics:
From Bicycle Universe
Kinds of crashes. Falls account for 59% of all crashes, running into a fixed object 14%, moving motor vehicles were involved in 11%, and another bicycle in 9%. (Moritz, 1998)
One in every 20 bicyclists is injured annually. (Bicycling Magazine 1987)
A bicyclist can expect a minor injury every three years and a more serious one every fifteen. (Bicycle Forum 1978)
Streets with bike lanes are safer than those without. Article also has information about the safety of bike paths. (BicyclingInfo.org, 2004)
The site where this information came from, Bicycle Universe, has a wealth of information, other details and lots of links to data. If you would like to learn more, please pay them a visit.