(Cheryl Weiss, May 11, 2017)
Ferndale, MI – In celebration of National Bike Month, the City of Ferndale is hosting a variety of events in May to share information and involve the community in bike safety and fun. A Smart Cycling Class was held at the Ferndale Area District Library on May 9, 2017. Instructed by Yvonne Rucker, Executive Director and Founder of BikeVon, attendees learned how to stay safe while bike riding, and received answers to many questions often asked in the community regarding biking. What do the pavement markings in bike lanes mean? Should bikers ride in the street or on the sidewalk? Do you really need a helmet, and if so, how do you wear it correctly? These questions and more were addressed in Rucker’s presentation.
Rucker first introduced the ABC’s of Smart Cycling; tasks you need to do before you go for a bike ride. A is for Air. According to Rucker, it is important to make sure your tires are inflated to the correct PSI every time before you ride. She suggested letting some air out of the tires first, then filling them to the correct pressure. By doing this, you will know your tires are correctly inflated. Pressing on your tires to see if they are inflated is not enough. “Treat it as if it’s your baby, and it’s a new baby,” she instructed as audience members practiced locating the PSI number on the tire and one volunteer demonstrated using the pump to inflate the tire.
B is for Brakes. Check your brake pads, and replace worn out pads as needed. If there is less than ¼” of pad left, you need to replace it. Squeeze the brakes; you should be able to fit your thumb between the brake lever and handlebar. Make sure your brake pads are not rubbing on the tire; adjust them if necessary before you ride.
Q is for Quick Releases. Make sure your quick releases are all closed and tight in the frame. To avoid the quick releases getting caught as you ride, check to be sure they are all pointing to the back of the bike.
Another “C” that Rucker discussed was Check It Over. Before you ride, inspect the bike carefully. If there are loose or broken parts, fix them or replace as needed. Rucker called this the “Mommy check”. Ask yourself if your mom would say your bike is safe to ride before you leave. If she would not approve, make all repairs or adjustments so that it would pass the Mommy check.
What about helmets? Are they really necessary? “If you love yourself, then you need to wear a helmet,” Rucker declared. However, you need to make sure the helmet you wear is properly fitted and adjusted for you. How do you know your helmet fits correctly? First, put it on your head, but do not fasten the straps. The right helmet for you should be level on the front of your head and two finger-widths above your eyebrows. It should not move much when you shake your head. Then, adjust the straps and buckles. Adjust the side straps to form a “V” shape under your ears, center the buckle under your chin, and tighten the chin strap until it is snug. Rucker shared that all helmets, whether they cost $15 or $200, must pass safety regulations. All helmets do the same thing; the differences between them are just a matter of style and personal preference. If you are in an accident, you should replace the helmet even if it does not seem to be damaged.
Bike lanes and sharrows can be confusing for drivers. A bike lane is a portion of the road, usually on the right, that is reserved for bicyclists. They have pavement markers with arrows to guide bikers. Cars are not allowed to make turns from a bike lane, or park in a bike lane. Sharrows indicate to drivers that bikers are likely to be on the road, and remind drivers that they need to share the road with bikers. Sharrows help bicyclists by indicating where in the lane they should ride to be as visible and safe as possible. Sharrows are often used with Share the Road signs.
Smart Cycling also means that bikers stay safe by following the same rules as drivers on the road. “Always ride with traffic. Follow traffic laws!” she said. She suggests that cyclists ride their bikes the way they drive their cars. “Be wise,” she said. If you are not comfortable riding your bike on busy streets, stay in the subdivisions where you are comfortable. However, do not ride your bike on the sidewalk – it is the worst place for a cyclist to be! Motorists often drive their cars past stop signs on the road. When they do that, they miss the curb cuts, they are not looking at the sidewalks; they are looking at the road, and they miss the biker coming on the right or the left. That’s when accidents and injuries happen, she explained. Just as drivers should not cut off other drivers, bikers should not suddenly switch lanes without signaling. “Be predictable!” Rucker reminded the audience.
Many other opportunities to celebrate Bike Month in Ferndale are scheduled:
May 18 – Downtown Bike Rodeo
May 19 – Bike to Work Day
May 23 – Bicyclist Town Hall
May 29 – Memorial Day Parade
Weekly Coordinated Rides are also arranged. More information about these events can be found at www.ferndalemoves.com.