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7 rules for safe summer city biking

Posted by Alex Pearlman  May 17, 2012 10:35 AM

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summerbiking.jpgBy Welina Farah 

In the lovely city we call home, summer is creeping around the corner. What does this mean for Bostonians? After spending three awful seasons indoors, it’s time we break out of our “I-don’t-wanna-go-outside” attitude.

May is National Bike Month and what better way to celebrate than to learn more about how to ride the two-wheeled machine? Here are seven ways you can stay safe this summer while riding your bike:

Hand signals:

When switching lanes or taking a turn while riding, the general consensus is to use traditional hand signals to indicate where you're going, although some people advocate for simply pointing. Also, having a light on your bike while riding at night is a really good idea. This will increase visibility while riding.

Helmet:

ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET! Elementary schools everywhere have beat this into our young minds, and it's true: you only have one brain.

Maintenance:

Most drivers are diligent about maintaining their cars. This includes regular oil changes, changing break pads, filling up on gas, fully pumping tires, and other miscellaneous servicing involved with getting the best driving experience. The same goes for bike riders. “Maintain your bike,” said Daniel Nuzzo-Mueller, an employee at Community Bicycle Supply. Leaving a small problem to itself will only make it bigger and harder to fix, he said. “Always inflate tires – inflate them weekly,” he said. Nuzzo-Mueller sees a lot of people purchasing the wrong type of tires, a common mistake for bikers. “Flat treaded tires are best for road use. People confuse the mountain bike tires to be the best because of the extra treads on the tire”. Also, always check the break pads. Make sure they work before you need them while on the road.

Traffic and dealing with cars:

The other. The enemy. Dealing with cars while biking can be a serious feat. Sharing the road has become common, but always be careful of the dangers involved. “Maintain eye contact with drivers. If they see you, they most likely won’t hit you. Don’t assume they can see you, either. Most of the time they can’t,” said Nuzzo-Mueller. Remember to check over your shoulder before you switch lanes, signal your move, then move.

Rain:

Bostonians are no strangers to awful and disgusting weather. We have both humid, rainy days and cold, rainy days. With the rain comes wet roads, something all bikers and car drivers should be wary of. Crosswalks and manholes become danger spots for bikers if they aren’t careful. Turning on one of these while the road is wet is a sure way to bail out on your bike.

Self-maintenance:

Be predictable. While riding your bike, confidence is a must. “Stay calm when riding your bike. The nervous energy you have can freak out drivers,” said an employee at Back Bay Bicycles who recommended becoming one with your bike before going out in traffic. How? Take it out around the block, don’t go too far with it, and try to get on your bike a few times during the week.

Larceny:

It would be in your best interest to invest in a U-lock for your bicycle.  Combination and key locks are easily broken and have proven to be unreliable. Another precaution to take is to record your bike’s serial number in a safe place.

Have fun and ride safe! The city is a great playground in the summer, but safety is a top priority.

Do you have any tips for summer biking? Leave a comment!

Photo by vxla (Flickr)

About Welina -- I'm a UMass Boston student of sociological sorts with a political twist. I like black coffee, snarky comments, speaking my mind (especially when I shouldn't), social justice and Latin dancing. Let's think together on Twitter; you can find me @Ouleena.

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