Here are eight tips offered by Pearl Izumi on how you can have more confidence and stay safe while biking to and from work in an urban setting:
1. Plan your route.
Map out the safest and most enjoyable bike route from your home to work. Your route should avoid cars, is well traveled by other bikers or runners, and offer easy access to gas stations in the event your bike breaks down or you encounter bad weather. Carefully observe your bike route to determine the high risk spots, such as intersections with heavy traffic or streets with lots of parked cars, and road hazards, such as grates, potholes, and spots with sand and loose debris. Talk to your local bike shop for bike route tips, buy a local map that shows designated bike routes and trails, and check out Google.com/Maps to map out a bike-friendly route.
2. Drive Your Bike, Be Seen, and Be Safe.
Serious bikers know to drive-their-bike as if they were behind the wheel of a car and how critical it is to wear a bike helmet to prevent head injuries. Equally important is to be seen and that means wearing bright colored jackets, jerseys or shorts, such as a screaming yellow P.R.O. Barrier lite jacket — especially in low light conditions such as early morning or dusk. It’s vital to equip your bike with front and rear lights and reflectors, and always carry identification on you when you bike and put a card in your wallet with emergency phone numbers should you be injured while biking and are unable to call for help.
3. Bring clothes to work.
If you work in a more casual work setting, it may not matter as much, but if your workplace is slightly more formal, you may need to bring in a change of clothes when you drive into work. Talk to your local bike store about getting a waterproof backpack or pannier to carry clothes and shoes to work wrinkle free.
4. Gear up.
It’s important to be comfortable when you ride to work. Arriving to work cold, wet or with a sore behind will take the fun out of biking to work really fast. Start by investing in a pair of high quality bike shorts or pants that include anatomic 4D chamois technology to make the ride on your behind more comfortable. Be prepared for unexpected weather changes by packing a water-resistant jacket, arm and leg warmers, and sunglasses.
5. Bike for the streets.
Many bike manufacturers now make bikes specifically designed for urban commuting. Serious riders who commute all year round, even in snow, change their tires to match road conditions. Equip your bike with an extra tube for your tire, air pump and an easy-to-access tool set in the event you experience bike trouble.
6. Have a bail-out plan.
Expect drivers to act without seeing you. If you see backup lights, expect them to back into your path; if you see drivers parked, expect them to open their doors into your path. Always try to make eye contact with a driver – especially at intersections. Wave to a driver if you don’t think they see you. If they don’t look at you, they’re probably not seeing you. If they are texting, or gabbing on their cell phones, they won’t see you.
7. Road rage.
If you bike frequently enough, eventually you’ll encounter an angry driver. In any road rage situation, the person on the bike is exposed and extremely vulnerable. Do not challenge or confront enraged drivers, or drivers who are drunk, or high on drugs. Apologize, go meekly away, and live to ride another day.
For more information about biking, visit http://www.pearlizumi.com.
Courtesy of ARA content