Stay visible, stay safe

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first part in a two-part series on bicycle safety. The next installment article will appear in the Friday edition of the Troy Daily News.

MIAMI COUNTY — The Midwest is in the midst the year’s optimal bicycling season, between May and August. With two recent bicycling-related accidents in the county, one resulting in the death of a child, what are the most important tips for remaining safe on a bike?

“A bicyclist wants to be seen,” local bicycle enthusiast Jim Hemmert of Piqua said. “You want drivers of cars to see you.”

Remaining visible to cars is one of the most important mindsets a bicyclist can have when out on the road, which bicyclists can help by wearing reflective or bright clothing. There are also reflectors available to attach to bicycles.

In addition to staying visible, Hemmert discussed the ABC’s of bicycling and other tips on how to stay cautious so bike riders can have fun and be safe. They begin with “Always Be Careful.”

“We look left. We look right. We look left again,” Hemmert said about bicyclists entering traffic.

Bicyclists should remember to stop, look, and listen before numerous scenarios, including before riding on the street, according to Hemmert. Riders should also pay attention before crossing intersections, driveways, parking lots, bushes and trees and parked cars.

Bicyclists are also encouraged to avoid all night riding and riding in bad weather if possible. They should also avoid gravel, mud, leaves, and puddles, too, as that may cause them to lose control, according to Hemmert’s tips.

Riders should look before turning. If they are going to turn left, they should be in the left-turn lane on the road versus next to the curb on the right, Hemmert pointed out. Riders also need to watch for opening car doors, avoid carrying packages, and always ride with two hands.

The next portion of Hemmert’s ABCs of bicycle safety is “Always Be Courteous.” Bicyclists need to obey all of the same traffic laws and traffic signals that motor vehicles do. Riders should never ride against traffic, even when they are in a bike lane, Hemmert said. They should ride with traffic.

“They (drivers) can anticipate what the bicyclist is going to do,” Hemmert said about when drivers and bicyclists are both going with the flow of traffic.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also refers to this tip as “being predictable.” According to their website, they suggest, “Ride in a straight line, not in and out of cars.”

Bicyclists should also use hand signals when turning and give cars and pedestrians the right-of-way.

The final porton of Hemmert’s ABCs of bicycle safety is pay attention to the condition of the bike. Bicyclists are encouraged to keep their bikes clean and in good repair, and they should remember to oil moving parts.

Bicyclists should also make sure that they have the right fit for their bike. The NHTSA states, that there should be between 1 and 2 inches between the rider and the top bar when using a road bike. There should be between 3 and 4 inches if using a mountain bicycle.

“The seat should be level front to back,” according to the NHTSA website. “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.”