Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bicycle Safety 101: Being Visible

One of the most important things when riding on the road is being visible. Safety first! *push nerd glasses back up on nose* You might end up looking or feeling like a giant target, but until drivers become used to bicycles on the road and/or enough bicycle facilities are built, making yourself easier to see can actually help your create a safer riding environment for yourself. You can be more visible by considering the following ideas:

Wear brightly colored clothing. Dig out that old bright orange or yellow shirt you tuck in the back of your closet that clashes with everything, opt for some snazzy neon yellow bike gear or head to the thrift store to buy something bright. Whatever you decide to wear when you ride, opt for bright, bold colors. You will be more visible at dawn and dusk, in rain and when it's cloudy. You will also just be more visible on the road and stand out from the colors of road-side buildings, sidewalks and other traffic. You may feel like you are bold and bright - but, that's because you are. *wink*

Excellent Red Rear Light
Use reflective and light equipment. This is essential! Not only because when you ride at night it's a good idea, but its also a state law (in South Carolina, you must have a front white and rear red light when riding at night). The white front light may or may not provide enough light for you to see the road. It should have enough power to help you be seen as you ride along your way. Even though I have a bright front light, I don't feel comfortable using as my "driving" headlight. I opt for roads and paths that are well-lit, that way I can see any potholes, cracks or obstacles in my path. The red rear light is key creating a presents to any traffic that's traveling with or behind you. If motorists or other cyclists can see you as they approach, then there will be more time for them to adjust and react to you appropriately (slow down, move over, etc.). Also consider having reflective items that have reflective materials like a vest, jacket, shirt, shoes and even tape. Bike wrappers even provide a way for a bike frame to be reflective.

Create a sense of personal space when you ride. Be a confident, but not overly aggressive rider. Body language can speak volumes. It can convey a sense of calm, cockiness, arrogance or respect. When riding, consider the kind of bicyclists you'd like to ride with or drive near and then be that cyclist. You can also do things like take the lane, stop a stop signs and signal lights and ride with traffic to help you create personal space and convey confidence. When you are confident in your own skills and place on the road, a driver is more likely to respond with the same kind of behavior, giving you respect and your own space. And if this doesn't happen immediately when you ride, be patient. Drivers are learning and adapting how to respond to bicycle traffic, as there weren't so many (of us) even 5 years ago on the road.

Follow the rules of the road. Common sense stuff. I'm not going to go into too much detail on this one. For more info, you can read another post about it here.

Consider these bike riding safety tips to help increase your visibility. Good things to consider and put into practice.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Upstate Sorba

Know much about mountain biking? I have to confess I'm not much up on the topic or sport. But there's a huge group of mountain bikers in the Upstate and in the greater southeast region that dig the trails in Clemson Experimental Forest, near Paris Mountain and around other outdoor recreation areas. This group of committed folks helps maintain local trails, supports outdoor recreation organizations and parks and love to ride!

One of the mountain biking groups is called Upstate SORBA. SORBA stands for the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association. Besides ride, they also advocate to keep the trails open to mountain biking, working with land manager and policy makers to develop regulations (that are fair and respect people's rights) governing the use of public and private lands. These guys (and gals) love to have fun, and they are dedicated to helping preserve and bring respect to the sport. Right on! They are also a part of IMBA. IMBA is the International Mountain Biking Association. IMBA's mission stats that they aim to create, enhance and preserve great trail experiences for mountain bikers across the globe. So, a great local, active group is part of a larger international community. 

As it's been a warmer winter, maybe its time to hit the trails and say thanks to (and consider joining) SORBA.

Friday, January 6, 2012

New Year, New News

There's been a bit of biking news in a few communities in the Upstate recently. Read on.

Pendleton. Local cyclists have approached the Pendleton Town Council about hosting a cycling race that would happen this March. The event would be by the American Cancer Society, sanctioned by USA Cycling and is speculated to bring hundreds of cycling to the small town. The area is already popular with local cyclists, and it event could be a big boost to the town, despite the closed roads and traffic re-routing. The Clemson University Cycling Club is leading the efforts, and the Town Council has yet to vote on the event. This could also eventually lead to better marked and signed bike lanes and shared roadways in the community. Contact the Town Council to voice your support!

Spartanburg B-cycle Station
Spartanburg. As you might recall, I blogged about Spartanburg's B-Cycle bike-share program. It is the first bike share program in the state. So far the small program is doing well. Program partner, Partners for Active Living, helped crunch some numbers to help tell the tale of bike sharing.. From the start of the program in early 2011 through July 2011, the 437 B-Cycle program members have taken 1,224 total bike rides and have ridden 8,784 miles. That's like riding from Spartanburg to New Zealand! What a great way to get people moving, outta their cars and using a public investment.

City of Clemson. The City is putting together a survey to provide feedback that will help support and provide information for their bike plan. (The survey will be specifically about bicycle facilities. Stay tune to water bills, the city website and other news sources for release dates.) The survey asks respondents to comment on biking conditions on local roads, safety concerns and attitudes of sharing roadways. Please take the time to complete the survey.

If there's other things going on, please feel free to post about them here. Let the good news role.