Bike Guide 2012: Cycling safety |

Bike Guide 2012: Cycling safety

Jackson Creagan uses the trail that passes through Butcherknife Canyon on his way home from Strawberry Park on June 7 during the final week of school. School children will get a helping hand when they head back to school next fall from the Safe Routes to School map
John F. Russell

Road Safety: Share the Road

— There are rules of the road to follow for safe road riding. Always practice the following:

• Always wear a helmet

• Don’t use headphones or cell phones while biking

• Show respect for everything on the road: drivers, other bikers, pedestrians, parked cars

• Use correct hand signals to show your movements

• Don’t stop in the travel lane (only stop on shoulders or off the road)

• Riding at night without a headlight is illegal. Wear bright or reflective clothing

• Obey all traffic laws, signs and signals, and never ride against traffic

• Ride in the right lane, except when passing another vehicle, preparing for a left turn or avoiding hazards (ride on paved shoulders and bike lanes when possible)

• Ride no more than two abreast, returning to single-file if impeding the flow of traffic (always ride single-file on curving or narrow roads)

• Never assume motorists see you or that you have the right-of-way

• Share the road with other users, practicing safety, awareness and respect

• When stopping, always remain visible in both directions to other users, particularly on curves and hills (don’t stop in a blind spot)

• Expect the unexpected

Safe Routes to School

Steamboat Springs Safe Routes to School, which regularly sponsors Hike and Bike to School Days, is a community effort aimed at making our town easy and safe for kids to commute by bike or foot. Our mission is to inspire kids who usually ride in a car or bus to walk or ride a bike instead. The program also organizes safety and skills rallies to teach rules of the road and skills for making riding and walking fun and safe. Thanks to a Colorado Department of Transportation map, our new Safe Routes to School map highlights the safest routes from various neighborhoods to our schools. Info:

Safe Walking/Bike Riding Tips

Preparing to ride:

• Choose the route with the fewest streets to cross even if it’s longer.

• Wear brightly colored clothes. Tie your shoes and secure long laces and loose pants. • Don’t wear headphones.

• Wear a properly fitted helmet (no more than two fingers between chin and chin strap).

• Check that tires are firm and brakes work.

• Ride a bike that fits. When straddling the frame, both feet should be able to be firmly planted on the ground. When seated, your hands should reach the handlebars.

• Don’t carry anyone else on your bike.

• Don’t carry anything in your hands (use a backpack or basket). Secure any dangling straps.

• If riding in the dark, use headlights, tail lights and reflectors and wear bright clothing with reflective material.

Riding awareness and safety

• Before entering a street, look for other vehicles to the left, right, in front and behind.

• Pay attention to your surroundings. Watch for other vehicles and hazards, such as potholes and parked cars.

• Watch for vehicles turning into or exiting driveways.

• Watch for parked vehicles that may be ready to back up, pull forward or open a door.

• Ride in a straight line with two hands on the handlebars unless signaling.

• Before changing lanes or turning, always check in front and behind for traffic.

• If riding on a sidewalk or path, ride slowly and be prepared to stop quickly. Pedestrians have the right-of-way.

• Dismount if crossing at a stop light crosswalk.

Riding Right: For riders and the trails’ good

Knowing how to make a water crossing or properly downshift is important, but there are other facets of being a good, well-rounded and responsible rider. Many trails have been closed to riders because of the actions of a rare few. Short-cutting switchbacks, taking off-trail routes and failing to yield to other users all harm both the environment and riders’ chances to continue to gain access to trails. Ride right by following the International Mountain Bicycling Association’s rules of the trail:

• Ride only on open trails

• Do not use trails when wet

• Leave No Trace (ride or carry through, rather than around, obstacles like mud puddles)

• Avoid locking your brakes and skidding down steeps

• Always control your bicycle

• Always yield to uphill traffic

• Never scare animals (wild or domestic)

Safety with Animals

There are two situations where a biker is likely to meet with ranch animals, including cattle and horses: as a herd moving down a road and as a single animal along the trail. While each situation should be handled differently, there are a few which apply regardless of the situation.

Approach cattle slowly and quietly. Cattle will move away form you given the opportunity, but when stressed by noises and fast movement they become unpredictable. Don’t get between an individual cow or calf and the herd. Stop and stay still and the animal will go around you to get back to the herd. Also don’t try to get around it or chase it back to the herd.

Oftentimes when you come up behind an animal it will stay on the trail ahead of you because it provides the easiest passage. Cattle have a flight zone, the distance where an animal will move away from potential danger. This increases with their degree of stress (i.e. encountering a biker). Ease your speed; if they get far enough in front they’ll be out of their flight zone and look for an escape. Also, instead of staying directly behind the cow, move to one side or the other, which will cause them to move off the trail (staying behind them just causes them to travel faster).

These guidelines can also be used when encountering horses on a trail.

When encountering a herd of cattle, stop, step to one side and stand still and quiet until it passes. It will likely give you a wide berth. Hurrying the herd’s passing with noises and arm movements only causes the animals to stop or split. If you come up behind a herd, take the cues from the horseback riders at the back — they might lead you through the herd or ask you to wait.

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