Whether you are new to bike riding or a seasoned veteran, now is the time to get your bike ready. Spring has arrived and it won’t be long before we hit the trails. If you haven’t ridden for a while, start slowly by taking short rides around your neighborhood. Going for a 10 or 20 mile ride the first time out could be painful and discourage you from going on future rides. Work your way up to the prospect of a long ride on any of the wonderful trails in our area.
Having your bike in proper condition will add to the enjoyment and efficiency of riding. Properly set up bike gears will allow you to shift gears more quickly. Your bike will run quieter and will require measurably less effort to propel. Setting up your bike gears correctly from the beginning will save work down the road, as gears properly tuned from the start require fewer adjustments later on.
Also, keeping your tires inflated to the proper level is one of the easiest ways to make sure you are getting as much as possible out of every pedal. Carrying a pump and a spare tube are highly recommended.
If you need repairs or parts there are many fine local bike shops. Many of these shops also offer bike clinics for learning how to fix your own bicycle, plus they offer bike rides on local trails for varying skill levels. Bike Line 1728 Tilghman Street, Allentown, Bike Line 2112 Schoenersville Road, Bethlehem; Genesis Bicycles 126 Bushkill Street, Easton; Saucon Valley Bikes 824 Main Street in Hellertown, Cutters Bike Shop 418 East Third Street, Bethlehem and Performance Bicycle 934 Airport Center Drive in the Airport Center, Allentown.
Helpful tips when out riding:
- Take water and snacks along. Bring a camera; you never know what you’ll come across. There is plenty of wildlife on our rail-trails.
- Wear sports glasses or sunglasses to protect your eyes from dust, bugs and rays from the sun.
- Wear sunscreen to protect your skin from UV rays.
- Wear bright, reflective clothing to help drivers and other riders see you. Also reflectors or reflective tape on your bike make you more visible.
- Use gloves to prevent blisters.
- Use padded shorts and a cushioned seat for comfort.
- Use an appropriate light or avoid riding when visibility is poor or during the dark of night.
- Make sure your bike is the right size for you. You should be able to place both feet on the ground without sitting on the crossbar.
- Always stay alert!
- Most important is to wear a helmet to protect you from head injuries. Take the time to get a properly fitted helmet and learn how to put it on correctly. Pennsylvania law requires children under the age of 12 to wear a safety-approved bicycle helmet. Properly fitted helmets should be worn at all times by everyone when cycling.
To properly fit a helmet:
Place helmet level on the head. It should be snug and cover the forehead. Adjust the side straps so the plastic triglide on the straps (which join the straps together to form a V) are snug and positioned just below the earlobe. Adjust the buckle strap or chin strap so it is tight enough to prevent the helmet from moving, but allow enough room to fit a finger width between the chin strap and the chin.
Bicycles on the roadway are, by law, vehicles with the same rights, and responsibilities as motorized vehicles. Bicyclists are considered vehicle operators; they are required to obey the same rules of the road as other vehicle operators, including obeying traffic signs, signals, and lane markings. When cycling in the street, cyclists must ride in the same direction as traffic.
Drivers of motor vehicles need to share the road with bicyclists. In Pennsylvania, motorists are required by law to give at least four feet clearance when passing a bicyclist on the road. Drivers should always look for cyclists before opening a car door or pulling out from a parking space, and yield to cyclists at intersections and as directed by signs and signals.
Here are a few interesting bike safety stats compiled from 2010;
- 52,000 pedal-cyclists were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2010; 18% (or about 9,000) of the pedal-cyclists who were injured were age 14 and younger.
- There were 618 pedal-cyclist deaths in 2010 which accounted for 2 percent of all traffic fatalities. Seventy-two percent of all pedal-cyclist deaths in 2010 occurred in urban areas.
- 51,000 pedal-cyclists were injured in traffic accidents.