5 Safety Tips for Bike Sharers
Bike share programs are popping up in cities all over the U.S. - Lime Bike, Citi Bike, Jump Bike, Ford GoBike, you name it. Bike-sharing is an affordable alternative to buying a bike, a great way to try bike commuting, and the perfect solution for those only looking to bike when the weather’s nice.
At the same time, bike sharers are creating a bit of tension with others on the road. We hear stories from cyclists and drivers alike of bike sharers swerving through traffic helmet-less, running red lights, and wearing headphones distracted from what’s going on around them. The reality is, our roads can be hostile towards cyclists. It’s on all of us (bike-sharers and bike owners alike) to create a culture of cycling that’s based on shared space, responsibility, and some self-awareness.
Safety is paramount when you’re biking so we pulled together a few tips for all cyclists to keep in mind for a safe and smooth ride.
1. Reduce Your Chances of Going Helmet-less by Keeping a Spare at the Office
Happy hours and dinner plans pop up and it can be tempting to jump on a bike after work to get there. Set yourself up for those last minute adventures by keeping a backup helmet at your desk.
Note that backup doesn’t mean your old, cracked helmet - make sure it’s in full, usable condition.
2. Make Sure Everyone on the Road Can See You
Many city roads are well lit with lampposts but in this case your bike lights are not only about you - they are about the cars, trucks, motorbikes and fellow cyclists seeing you. Bike shares come with built in lights to meet some basic requirements, but give yourself some extra lumens for a safer ride. We know it can be easy to forget your lights, but here are a few packable picks from the BioLite family that make it really easy to have on you at any moment:
- HeadLamp 330 - Fits easily around your helmet for elevated light while riding. It features a white strobe mode to make it easier for cars on the road to see you.
- Bike Commuter Kit - This May, we’re offering a special kit including HeadLamp 330, PowerLight Mini, Light Diffusing Stuffsack and a BioLite Reflective Bike Cuff for just $89.90.
3. Practice Your Route in Your Head Before You Pedal With Your Feet
Get to know your potential routes to work by looking at local bike maps, Google bike navigation (which is available in most cities), or by asking fellow bikers in the office. One of the most dangerous things you can do is feel lost, stop your bike in the road to look at your phone, and cause a pile up behind you. Keep an eye out for rush hour patterns: you might want to avoid roads with heavy car traffic in the beginning and take a slightly longer, but calmer route. Biking is a great way to get to know the arteries of your town or city, so don't be afraid of a little detour to make the overall journey better.
Editor's note: We know a lot of people love the turn-by-turn directions on their phone, but we STRONGLY recommend you still learn those turns before your first ride. We also recommend ditching the headphones and connecting to a bluetooth speaker so you can still hear ambient noise which could include a biker passing you on your left, a car sneaking up on your right, or anything in between. Headphones keep us in our own world, and remember, we gotta share the road when we're on wheels.
4. Follow the Rules of the Road
This is a big one. As a biker you are a vehicle and you must follow traffic laws. Being predictable and obeying the rules helps everyone on the road stay safe - that includes you, other cyclists, pedestrians, and cars. Here are a few rules of the road to remember:
- Obey all traffic signals - you are a vehicle and need to act like one.
- This may sound obvious but don’t run red lights. Not only can it increase the chances of an accident - you can also get a hefty ticket. Many cyclists report an uptick in police keeping an eye out for this kind of infraction.
- Ride with traffic (never against it). You may see other people going it - don’t do it. It’s a crappy thing to do.
- Signal when you’re turning - if you need a refresher on hand signals, Active Magazine pulled together a photo run down.
- Ride in single file on the road - If you’re riding with friends - don’t just mob down the road.
5. Think of Your Fellow Sharers
Before we go, we’ll leave you with one final thought about bike etiquette. With the rise in popularity of ‘park where you want’ cycles, be courteous when parking your bike. Take the time to prop your bike up using a kickstand in a place that doesn’t block traffic or people from walking on the sidewalk. And if the bike runs on solar power - park it in sunlight.
And be sure to report maintenance if your bike was in bad shape. Think about the next time you're reaching for a bike, you'll appreciate that your fellow bike sharer helped make it available and in good shape.
Following the tips in this blog put you on the path towards a safer and smoother ride. Have a safety tip that we missed? Comment on latest Instagram or Facebook posts and we’ll share them out at the end of this week.