Cycling (Biking or Bicycling) (cont.)
What about bike safety?
Here are some tips for riding in traffic:
traffic lights and stop signs. Many cities require bikers to follow the same
rules of the road as motorized vehicles.
- Ride in the direction of traffic.
- Watch for doors of parked cars opening unexpectedly.
- Watch for pedestrians at crossings and jaywalkers stepping out from behind a parked car or
truck. Pedestrians crossing streets are looking for big objects like cars and
trucks, not bikers.
- Imagine that no one can see you (most of the time they
can't) and ride defensively. If you're in an uncertain situation, use your
judgment and slow down if necessary. Remember, you can't compete with cars, and
running into a pedestrian is no joy either. Usually, both people get hurt.
- Helmets. Helmet use and helmet laws are controversial. For instance, some
research shows that wearing helmets may encourage cyclists to take more risks or
motorists to take less care when they encounter cyclists. In a careful analysis
of a large amount of data concerning helmets, it was concluded that the cost of
helmets exceeds any estimated savings in health-care costs. Of course, if you
have an accident and a helmet does help you, then the cost is well worth it.
Helmets cost less than $50, and despite the controversial evidence, I always wear
How do I take care of my bike?
At the minimum:
- Keep your chain lubricated
(just a light film).
- Keep your tires filled to the proper pressure (maximum
pressure is written on the side of your tire). Your tires will have Schraeder or
Presta valves. Ask your salesperson for the right type of pump to fit your
valves (I heartily endorse the Joe Blow pump by Topeak—it fits both valves
easily and conveniently).
- Purchase Allen wrenches (your bike
salesperson can advise you on size) and a Phillips head screwdriver, and
occasionally check the screws and bolts that hold your bike together to make
sure they are tight.
- Attend to any rattling that you hear or feel when you're
biking. Bring the bike in for service if you're not sure what the problem is.
- Check your brake pads and cables. You'll know if your brakes are worn or the
cables have stretched if you have to pull harder on your brakes to stop. Again,
bring the bike in for service if you're not sure what the problem is.
- Take your bike to the shop for a once-over at the beginning of bike
season. Many bike shops offer complementary inspection, and some even offer free
lifetime maintenance (for the small stuff) if you purchased your bike from