Daylight Savings Time began this past Sunday morning. Cyclists rejoice at the possibilities that extra hour of daylight brings for the days ahead.
Extra daylight is a treat but don’t overestimate a driver’s ability to see you on the road – at any time of day or night. Even drivers who are able to resist responding to a text while at the wheel have plenty of demands on their attention. At least until everybody’s driving a new Volvo with cyclist detection, cyclists are subject to the attention – or inattention – of drivers.
Bicycle clothing and gear keep getting updated to be more functional and to provide riders more safety features. If you haven’t thought about safety on the bike until now, that means you’ve been riding safely and/or had a bit of luck while out on the bike. Don’t rely on luck. Ride smart!
Below are some of our tips to keep you riding on:
Light the Way
Bicycle lights have a dual purpose: to see and to be seen. At Higher Gear, you can find lights with lots of lumens that will allow you to see the road or trail in front of you any time of day or night. The other purpose of bicycle lights is to make you visible – most notably to the drivers you’re sharing the road with.
A headlight makes you visible to cars in front of you or the ones heading towards you. A tail light makes you visible from behind. Many light manufacturers are now making lights that feature 180 degree visibility, making your light even more functional.
Most lights have a “blinking” feature which is especially helpful in the twilight hours or during the day. A blinking or moving light is more visible than a steady light. Can you really have too many bicycle lights? We tend to side with Badwater Ultramarathon race director, Chris Kostman on this one. “Light yourself up like a Christmas tree.”
Specialized is making helmets with reflective webbing. Clothing manufacturers, like Sugoi, include reflective detailing. One of Higher Gear’s favorite outerwear pieces for all kinds of weather, Sugoi’s Versa Jacket, has 3M Reflective piping on the front, side and back for added visibility.
Wearing light or bright colors can help you stand out. You can also add reflective tape to your bike, helmet or clothing.
Always wear a proper fitting helmet when you ride. (A helmet on your handlebars or in your basket doesn’t do anyone any good.) We suggest replacing helmets every three to five years based on use and abuse. But even an unused helmet should be replaced within five years.
Because some helmet materials deteriorate with age, the Snell Memorial Foundation recommends that a helmet be replaced at least every five years, or sooner. “Glues, resins and other materials used in helmet production can affect liner materials. Hair oils, body fluids and cosmetics, as well as normal ‘wear and tear’ all contribute to helmet degradation.”
The Snell Foundation also suggests, “any helmet that has sustained a substantial blow should be discarded and replaced” Parents, your kids are hard on their helmets. Never pass a helmet down from one sibling to the next.
Having ID and a cell phone on you while you ride is a good idea, but what if you or your loved one is involved in an accident and is unconscious? If you are a runner, cyclist, triathlete or just an active person, Road ID is for you. In the event of an accident, if you can’t speak for yourself, your Road ID will. It’s not just a piece of gear – it’s peace of mind. Come in to Higher Gear to get your coupon for free shipping on your Road ID purchase.
As a cyclist, you, too, are a vehicle on the road. It’s your responsibility to:
- Obey the rules of the road. Obey traffic signs and signal to drivers and other cyclists your intentions.
- Be predictable. Don’t make drivers guess your next move. Communicate.
- Always check behind you before swerving into traffic or turning.
- Command your lane. Check out Bike Savvy‘s guide to commanding the road while riding.
- Ride diligently. Always be aware of your surroundings. Assume drivers cannot see you.
- Make sure your bicycle is in working order. The bad news: your bicycle doesn’t have a dashboard that lights up when it needs maintenance. The good news: our mechanics can take a quick glance over your bike and let you know if you’re good to go.
If you’re a woman who doesn’t feel confident riding on the road, consider attending our second annual Women’s Cycling Clinic. It’s a fun day learning and practicing bike handling skills in a friendly environment. Our group rides are a great way to put those handling skills into practice.
Anyone who has any hesitations about riding on the road, come on in and talk with us. Our knowledge experts can get you set up with the gear you’ll need to be safe. More importantly, we’re all cycling enthusiasts who are eager to get you on the road with us.
We’re delighted to help you gain the confidence you need to step up your cycling.