Monday, February 21, 2011

Active Transport Biking Tips

Jason from Active Transport Alliance came to the SCE Commuter Resource Center to give students an overview of how to correctly prepare themselves to ride in Chicago and the rules of the road bicycle-riders must follow.

He began by explaining how bicycles have the same rules as any other vehicle on the road, vehicular riding. When riding the two most important things to remember is to be visible and predictable. 

Be visible:
  • Wearing clothing that has bright and visible colors.
  • Wear reflectors on you and the bike. 
    • You can purchase reflective vest and/or stickers to apply to your clothing. 
  • It is a Chicago law to have a front white and back red light when riding at night. 
    • Jason warned the crowd to be sure to remove your lights when locking up so they do not get stolen and, in addition, that you can never have too many lights on your bike!

Although helmets are not a law, they are strongly recommended to prevent injuries when riding:
  • A proven 85% of head injuries could have prevented if the riders had been wearing helmets. 
  • Never buy a used helmet.
    • Find a helmet from a reputable source, certified with with a CPSC sticker.
  • Adjusting:
    • Eyes: you should be able to see the rim of the helmet when looking up.
    • Ears: adjust your straps so the buckle is directly under your ear. This prevents the helmet from moving in the occurrence of a fall. 
    • Mouth: you should only allow one to two fingers to fit between your chin and the helmet strap. 
    • Inner fittings: there is a dial on the back of your helmet you can freely adjust.
  • Life Span: 
    • "One crash, it's trash," helmets can lose their ability to absorb shock after accidents.
    • Use best judgement to analyze the wear and tear of the styrofoam and plastic materials.
Before each ride, people should quickly check their bikes for pieces out of place.
  • A is for Air
    • Tires should feel as firm as a fully inflated basketball.
    • Fill your tires to the maximum PSI to allow for leakage.
    • Under-inflated tires are dangerous because they could roll when.
  • B is for Breaks
    • Apply breaks, moving your bike forward and backward to check for stability. 
  • C is for Chain
    • Check for rust and lubrication.
    • A chain is an inexpensive part compared to the parts it effects, if your chain is not in good condition do not risk the further damages!
It is important to make sure your bike fits your body. When standing over your bike, the highest point of the bar should be two inches away from making contact with your body.

He left us with a few helpful tips to avoid getting your bicycle stolen:

  • Use a U-lock: secure it between the tires and through on of the 3 main bicycle frame tubes.
  • Change locations of where you lock your bicycle and try not to leave it anywhere over night.
  • Less attractive bicycles are less likely to be stolen.
  • Register your bicycle with the Chicago Police.

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