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 Post subject: Red Cross Bike Safety Tips for Bad Weather
Post Posted: Jan 9, 2018 3:57 pm 
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Red Cross Bike Safety Tips for Bad Weather
Volunteer Michelle Adams


The Rules of Winter Cycling

Poor street conditions and visibility can make winter riding seem a dangerous ordeal. But the skills that get you through the next few months will only make you a better rider all the time.

BE SEEN! People often don't expect to see cyclists in foul weather. Use front white and rear red lights and reflective tape and/or clothing to make sure you can be seen from the front, side and back. A disproportionate number of bicycle/car crashes happen in the dark!! Just because we can see motorists, doesn't mean they see or expect us. And during the season of long nights, cyclists are often invisible in the canyon of shadows created by street lights and car headlights. Not convinced? Check out CDOT's clever "can you see the cyclist" video.

Know the Hazards: The streets are slickest when it first begins to rain or snow. Manhole covers, leaves and metal bridges are particularly dangerous when wet. Plowed snow reduces operating room on the roads. Fresh snow makes traction difficult. Black ice is sneaky; all ice can be upending. And then there are regular ole hazards--potholes, cracks and RR crossings. Your awareness of these hazards, especially on your common routes, will help you anticipate and handle them (see below).

Know the Tricks: When it is wet or icy, pump the brakes, ride more slowly, keep your weight on the back wheel, and don't lean into turns as much. When it snows, follow the ruts created by cars, avoiding ridges which can deflect the front wheel and cause a spill. Again, keeping your weight to the back helps with stability. Breathe deeply, stay the course and keep pedaling--your bike wants to stay upright, and momentum will help it. If you do start to fall, try to lean away from traffic and resist putting out your hand to brake the fall; it’s often better to take the impact flat along your forearms. There’s also no shame in walking with your bike through rough patches.

Know your Options: Many of us are creatures of habit, taking the same route to a given destination. During messy weather, consider alternates. After a snowstorm, an unplowed side street where cars are poking along at 15 mph might be better than an icy artery where cars are sliding across the road at 40 mph or more and the bike lane is buried under plowed snow. Then again, during a storm, large arterials are sometimes best because cars are slow and the heavy traffic.

Consider what to wear

The Core
First, consider the rule of layering. This is a technique of wearing varying weights of clothing designed to wick, trap, hold and block. The overall purpose of layering is to trap insulating air between layers of clothing and subsequently hold heat in.

Wear a lightweight, high-performance, polyester-based wicking fabric next to the skin. Several manufacturers produce excellent high-quality, high-performance fabrics that are designed for cyclists. This type of garment will wick moisture away from the skin, keeping your skin and clothing dry to avoid heat loss through evaporation.

Next, wear something with thermal capabilities (polyester is excellent here as well) that retains warmth while allowing a slow "breathing" process of the fabric. Modern synthetic fabrics like polyester breathe and will help you stay warmer longer.

The outer garment will serve two purposes: Hold warmth in, while blocking the cold air and wind. The outer garment should serve as thermal barrier as well as a wind block, since cycling through cold air increases the wind chill factor. Fabrics like nylon serve this purpose well. Natural fabrics like wool and cotton get wet and stay wet, so don't wear your cotton T-shirt next to your skin thinking it will act as the primary wicking garment.

Also, if you're riding without a windbreaker and find that you need one, insert sections of a newspaper inside your cycling jersey. Insert it in the front to block on-coming cold air, and in the back to conserve core body heat and act as an insulator. You'll see amateurs and pros alike using this technique on long, cold descents.

The Head
About 30 percent of the body's heat is lost through the head. A tremendous supply of blood circulates through this area, so if you keep your head warm, your body will stay warm. Depending on the severity of the cold, differing levels of head gear can be used. Ear bands or ear warmers are a good beginning. A scull cap of synthetic fabric is a good lightweight remedy.

Essential Gear for All-Day Mountain Bike Rides

Spare Tubes or a Patch Kit, Bike Pump, Bike Tool Kit, First Aid Kit,Light & Batteries, Extra Clothing (extra layer or jacket,
extra socks, gloves, sunglasses, water or drink mixes, food. And always let someone know where you plan to ride, and how long
you think you might be out, as well as contacting them back letting them know your back in town. You never plan things to go
sour on a ride, so you may wish to consider a few extra pieces of gear to take with you should you get stuck in the dark at
winter time on a trail/woods. Think Survival and what do you need to make it through a cold night.


Safe Riding Tips

Before using your bicycle, make sure it is ready to ride. You should always inspect your bike to make sure all parts are secure and working properly.

Remember to:

Wear a Properly Fitted Bicycle Helmet. Protect your brain, save your life. For more information see the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration publication “Easy Steps to Properly Fit a Bicycle Helmet.”

Adjust Your Bicycle to Fit. Stand over your bicycle. There should be 1 to 2 inches between you and the top tube (bar) if using a road bike and 3 to 4 inches if a mountain bicycle. The seat should be level front to back. The seat height should be adjusted to allow a slight bend at the knee when the leg is fully extended. The handlebar height should be at the same level with the seat.

Check Your Equipment. Before riding, inflate tires properly and check that your brakes work.

See and Be Seen. Whether daytime, dawn, dusk, foul weather, or at night, you need to be seen by others. Wearing white has not been shown to make you more visible. Rather, always wear neon, fluorescent, or other bright colors when riding day or night. Also wear something that reflects light, such as reflective tape or markings, or flashing lights. Remember, just because you can see a driver doesn’t mean the driver can see you.

Control Your Bicycle. Always ride with at least one hand on the handlebars. Carry books and other items in a bicycle carrier or backpack.

Watch for and Avoid Road Hazards. Be on the lookout for hazards such as potholes, broken glass, gravel, puddles, leaves, and dogs. All these hazards can cause a crash. If you are riding with friends and you are in the lead, yell out and point to the hazard to alert the riders behind you.

Avoid Riding at Night. It is far more dangerous to ride at night than during the day because you are harder for others to see. If you have to ride at night, wear something that makes you more easily seen by others. Make sure you have reflectors on the front and rear of your bicycle (white lights on the front and red rear reflectors are required by law in many States), in addition to reflectors on your tires, so others can see you.

Rules of the Road – Bicycling on the Road

Bicycles in many States are considered vehicles, and cyclists have the same rights and the same responsibilities to follow the rules of the road as motorists.

When riding, always:

Go With the Traffic Flow. Ride on the right in the same direction as other vehicles. Go with the flow – not against it.
Obey All Traffic Laws. A bicycle is a vehicle and you’re a driver. When you ride in the street, obey all traffic signs, signals, and lane markings.

Yield to Traffic When Appropriate. Almost always, drivers on a smaller road must yield (wait) for traffic on a major or larger road. If there is no stop sign or traffic signal and you are coming from a smaller roadway (out of a driveway, from a sidewalk, a bike path, etc.), you must slow down and look to see if the way is clear before proceeding. This also means yielding to pedestrians who have already entered a crosswalk.

Be Predictable. Ride in a straight line, not in and out of cars. Signal your moves to others.

Stay Alert at All Times. Use your eyes AND ears. Watch out for potholes, cracks, wet leaves, storm grates, railroad tracks, or anything that could make you lose control of your bike. You need your ears to hear traffic and avoid dangerous situations; don’t wear a headset when you ride.

Look Before Turning. When turning left or right, always look behind you for a break in traffic, then signal before making the turn. Watch for left- or right-turning traffic.

Watch for Parked Cars. Ride far enough out from the curb to avoid the unexpected from parked cars (like doors opening, or cars pulling out)

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