The other day I went for my first big outdoor ride of the season, bike ride that is. It was a warm and lovely Friday afternoon. Sometimes people have different definitions of what it means “to ride.” For a few of my girlfriends it means getting on their horses. For other friends it means cruising on their Harley’s. There’s no judgment there for me – but for me going for a ride means putting some miles on the road bike. If I’m mountain biking I call it mountain biking; I know, revolutionary, isn’t it?
Anyway, last week towards the end of my ride I was heading up the last 3 miles of road before hitting the turn-off to the actual road that I live on. This is definitely a narrower stretch of road (crowded with bikers on the weekends), known for its gradual upward slope. I was hugging the line, turning a good pace when a kid yelled out the backseat window of a pick up truck to “get off the road.” First of all, why would you let your kid do that? Second of all, that is a dangerous and stupid thing to do. Third, this is a road I pay for with my tax dollars. I have every right to be on this road. So many things went through my mind in that moment. I really wanted to know if they also lived in my rural community. If only I could ride up their driveway and calmly explain why I not only belonged on the road, but they needed to stay off of it if they were going to behave that way. Oh, and did I mention, this wasn’t the first time someone has yelled at me for no reason while I was riding on the side of the road.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a driver as well. On Saturdays and Sundays my mountain roads are full of weekend warrior cyclists who frankly are clueless about the rules of the road. It can drive a person crazy. I have been known to want to yell, “ride single file” out my window on more than one occasion. But when a cyclist is obeying the rules of the road and staying as close as safely possible to the shoulder, it’s much safer to keep your mouth shut.
May is National Bike Month. Bike to Work Week is May 16-20. This is a great time to brush up on bicycle safety and to have your bike and helmet inspected to make sure they are in safe operating condition. It is a perfect time to teach your child to ride. Minneapolis takes the #1 spot in the nation for top US city for biking. Portland, OR claims the #2 spot and Boulder, CO #3 (Denver comes in at #12, which isn’t too shabby). In terms of planning ahead, if you live in Colorado, here are some events:
June: SoCo Tour de Cure (Woodland Park)
June: Elephant Rock Ride (Castle Rock)
June: Denver Century and Community Fun Rides (2nd annual!)
June: MS 150 (Westminster-Ft Collins)
July: Triple Bypass
July: Moonlight Classic (Denver)
July: Urban Assault Race (Ft Collins)
July: Boulder Sunrise Century
July: Urban Assault Race (Denver)
August: CO Rocky Mtn Bicycle Tour
August: Copper Triangle (Copper Mountain area)
Ask your company how they plan to support Bike To Work Week. If you live in an area where it is safe for your child to bike to school, encourage that and better yet, accompany him/her on your own bike.
For information on bike paths and events in Colorado, check out www.bikepaths.com.
Above everything be conscious and kind when it comes to respecting others. Whether on your motorcycling, bicycle, horse or skateboard – give each other the common courtesy of a little extra space, and a little patience. It will go a long way. Remember these Rules of the Road as put forth from the League of American Bicyclists:
The League’s six Rules of the Road will prepare you for a safe and fun bike commute this Bike Month. For more educational resources, visit our Ride Better page or sign up for a Smart Cycling class.
1. Follow the law.
Your safety and the image of bicyclists depend on you. You have the same rights and duties as drivers. Obey traffic signals and stop signs. Ride with traffic; use the rightmost lane headed in the direction you are going.
2. Be predictable.
Make your intentions clear to motorists and other road users. Ride in a straight line and don’t swerve between parked cars. Signal turns, and check behind you well before turning or changing lanes.
3. Be conspicuous.
Ride where drivers can see you; wear bright clothing. Use a front white light and red rear light and reflectors at night or when visibility is poor. Make eye contact with drivers. Don’t ride on sidewalks.
4. Think ahead.
Anticipate what drivers, pedestrians, and other bicyclists will do next. Watch for turning vehicles and ride outside the door zone of parked cars. Look out for debris, potholes, and utility covers. Cross railroad tracks at right angles.
5. Ride Ready.
Check your tires have sufficient air, brakes are working, chain runs smoothly, and quick release wheel levers are closed. Carry repair and emergency supplies appropriate for your ride. Wear a helmet.
6. Keep your cool.
Road rage benefits no-one and always makes a bad situation worse.