View Full Version : Thinking of getting a bike
08-14-2009, 04:22 PM
But I'm afraid of being just another statistic or slab of meat with tread marks!
I did see a neat thing. You know those fold-out yardsticks? Someone had one, sprayed yellow, mounted on the back of the bike. When extended (with a flag on the tip) it showed vehicles how far away they ought to be, and folded-up when the rider didn't need it. Think I'll do that.
Also trying to figure, if I have to ride with the flow of traffic, and say have to make a left turn, do I get into the left turn lane but stay on the right side of the lane?
Wondering too if a light, mirror and bell are required where I am, but I suppose I can ask the local police about it.
08-15-2009, 07:43 AM
It depends on your area, but I'd strongly recommend getting lights, mirrors, a bell and a helmet whether they are required or not.
I also recommend getting both a U-lock and a cable lock.
Generally speaking, but again depends on area, when making a left turn you should be in the center of the leftmost lane, unless it's otherwise clearly marked.
08-17-2009, 01:52 AM
Cycling safely is a bit of an art. Different areas require different techniques. In areas where you have to ride in traffic, however:
Do not use a "road racer" type bike. These are arguably "more efficient", but are absolutely horrible to actually ride. Mountain-type bikes usually have too rough a tread for efficient road use. I've stuck with the so-called "hybrid" type, which has medium-width tyres, plenty of gears and simple, wide handlebars.
Keep your bike maintained. Mostly this means tyre pressures, brake wear and adjustment, gear adjustment occasionally, and chain lubrication occasionally. For everything except the tyre pressures, taking it to a reputable bike shop twice a year will probably do. Get two pumps - a small one to carry with you for getting you home, and a big stirrup pump for use at home (it's much easier to use) with a pressure gauge. (The stirrup pump will also do well for car tyres.)
Learn to control your bike accurately under all conditions *before* you go on a busy road. You should be able to make an offside turn, signalling, uphill, while looking over your shoulder, all simultaneously. You really Do Not Want to wobble into the path of an approaching SUV.
Fit multiple sets of lights and reflectors to your bike. Have all but one of your rear lights be of the flashing type - or better, one where the light appears to wobble (these are more visible). Your main headlight should be able to light up the road ahead without the aid of streetlamps - this is a road-status symbol as well as a practical pothole-avoiding aid. Wear visible clothing (generally, anything that isn't dark coloured), and supplement it with reflective wrist and ankle bands. Don't forget the yellow side-reflectors that should be fitted to both wheels. Headlamps that literally attach to your head are also available and can be surprisingly useful, partly because they're at eye level for car drivers, and also because you can easily turn to face them - pick one with lots of battery life rather than high brightness, and leave it turned on even in daylight.
Fit excessively large carrying bags to your bike. Do not attempt to carry anything larger than a computer backpack on your back while riding. Do not hang any bags off your handlebars. The excessively large built-in bags are to avoid the need for that. Cargo trailers are also available (Burley make good ones).
Do not ride alongside a bus or any articulated vehicle, especially if it might make a turn shortly.
Do assert your ownership of sufficient space on the road. You need it for balancing manoeuvres (especially uphill), avoiding potholes, and general contingencies. Also, if you ride in the middle of a lane, cars will tend to perform overtaking manoeuvres as if you were a bigger vehicle, giving you more space. To a car, a bike looks like a very narrow thing. Therefore, you should ride in the middle of the lane if it's a wide road, or in the middle of the nearside half of the lane if it's not very wide.
Do not attempt to ride on freeways or other motorway equivalents.
A helmet will substantially reduce your chances of serious injury in several kinds of bicycle accident. Wearing one is a personal choice in many areas - if you do, take the time to find one that fits, and adjust it correctly.
Be prepared for motorists to be stupid, belligerent, or simply unobservant despite your precautions. Master your panic-stop, which means keeping your weight back far enough to not go over the handlebars, and beng very confident in the effectiveness of your front brake (the one with all the traction). Use both brakes, don't worry about sliding tyres (except the front one, which you need for balance too), and keep your arms tensed (to keep your weight back) but not completely straight (so that if you do hit something, you don't break your arms). Your bike should be adjusted to make this natural.
Do not attempt to ride a bicycle when there may be ice on the road, unless you have studded tyres - you *will* fall over unexpectedly. Snow may be doable, depending on the snow.
And now for the good news: cycling has been shown to cause an improvement in life expectancy even after accidents are taken into account. It's really that good for you!
08-17-2009, 01:56 AM
As an aside, I really can't over-emphasise the importance of good lights. I once borrowed a floodlamp with a 50-watt projector bulb in it for some twisty Welsh mountain roads. I looked like a motorbike to oncoming traffic, so they stayed well out of my way!
08-18-2009, 02:28 PM
almost everything was covered above my post, and you sound cautious, but I stress that you should obey the rode laws as best as you can. I live in philly and we have alot of bikes, many of them never wear helmets and they usually ride those fix-geared death traps. they ride through red lights without slowing down, weave inbetween cars and jump curbs onto crowded sidewalks if there is no way through traffic. it's against the law to ride on the sidewalk in business districts but ok outside of them, but then you must obey pedestrian laws (like stopping at no crossing signals and such). I have seen so many accidents on the road by idiots who zoom inbetween cars, they don't see them, they bump into another car, and then end up on someone's hood.
I always give myself 10-15 minutes of extra time to get into work incase of traffic.... so I guess all I am saying is... don't be crazy.
08-18-2009, 05:38 PM
One bit of weird trivia, in AZ its legal to ride on the freeway. Not everywhere, but on I10 east coming into Phoenix, you'll see a sign telling bicycles to exit at 107th Ave, ditto for southbound I17 at Pinnacle Peak Rd. It makes sense, the further you get from Phoenix (and this is true of other cities in AZ), the less roads there are, sometimes none at all. Problem is around Phoenix these are out of date, you can get out to at least Miller Rd in Buckeye (equivalent of around 230th Ave) these days thanks to the sprawl, and all the way to Black Canyon City (15 to 20 miles north of Pinnacle Peak Rd IIRC) for the same reason, although Anthem would require a trip on the freeway since that development is only accessible from I17.
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