Bicycling & Safety Tips

Bicycling Tips

Here are some helpful tips to make your bicycle commute safer and more enjoyable:

  1. Choosing a Bicycle -- If you already have a bicycle that's comfortable to you, don't assume that you need a new one. However, if you're considering a new bike, be practical. For short, mostly level trips, a 3-speed with upright handlebars will probably be fine. However, if your trip is longer and/or hilly, consider a 10-speed with dropped handlebars. Mountain bikes, with quality brakes and heavy-duty tires, are an excellent choice for urban streets. Additionally, some companies manufacture hybrid bikes especially for commuters.
  2. A Place for Cargo -- Think about the items you bring to work each day. A briefcase? Lunch? A newspaper? There are several ways to take these items to the job site by bicycle. Options include frameless backpacks, baskets, saddlebags, seat bags, and rear carriers. Even garment bags designed for bicycle travel are now available. All of these items can be found at good bicycle stores. If you use a basket or carrier, remember to secure your load with shock cords.
  3. Bring Tools -- Most bicycle repairs can be made in about 10 minutes, permitting you to arrive at work on time despite a "breakdown." A small repair kit with just a few important tools and spare parts will get you on the road in no time. Make sure you learn to use tools such as a patch kit to minimize your down time.
  4. Plan the Route -- Using a good street map, drive the route ahead of time looking for roadways with wide righhand lanes. "Major" streets are not necessarily the best for bicycling. Instead, look for parallel roads which carry less traffic. Some roads even have specially marked "bicycling lanes" which will allow you to travel outside of the automobile lanes. After you choose a tentative route, test it on a weekend to check for road hazards (potholes, blind curves, etc.) and time your trip. Becoming familiar with the route ahead of time will make your first day commuting on your bicycle a more positive event.
  5. Start the Day Refreshed -- When you begin work, you want to be clean and presentable. Allow 15 minutes to freshen up prior to your start time. Talcum powder and handy moist towelettes are now available in most grocery or drug stores. Some work facilities may even offer showers or locker rooms.
  6. Dress for the Occasion -- Don't wear sandals, high heels, loose clothing or anything that restricts body movement. Pant clips or rubber bands will help to keep pant legs from getting caught in moving parts (chains, gears, etc.) or getting dirty. Wearing lightweight clothing in warm weather will keep you cooler during your commute. When the weather cools down, a few thin layer (rather than a heavy coat) will keep you warm but won't restrict your movements. You may want to consider riding in cycling clothing and changing into work attire when you arrive at your job site.

The Employee Benefits Office will try to make your bike commute to work easy and convenient. We can provide you with information on California Vehicle Code Laws as they apply to bicycles and information on bike routes. We will also assist you in trying to find a bike-pool partner, and we will investigate establishing convenient bike racks and locker locations for City Employees. Please contact the Employee Benefits Office at (213) 847-0404 if you need assistance in any of these areas.

Safety Tips

In California, a bicycle is a vehicle subject to traffic laws. Obeying these rules and using common sense can improve the safety of your trip.

  1. Helmets -- Helmets are essential for a safe commute. Many styles are available in a wide range of prices. Before purchasing a helmet, try on several to ensure a perfect fit. Also, be sure that your helmet is Snell or ANSI approved.
  2. Stay to the Right -- You should always ride WITH the flow of traffic, never against it. Drivers aren't expecting to see other vehicles coming in the opposite direction. In addition, if you are in an accident while riding opposite to the flow of traffic, the power of the impact will be the SUM of your speed and that of the oncoming car instead of the difference.
  3. Proper Equipment -- Keep your bicycle in good mechanical condition. The law requires you to have good brakes. You should be able to make the wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement.
  4. A Safe Seat -- A bicycle must be equipped with a permanent, regular bicycle seat.
  5. Hand Signals and Rights-of-Way -- Hand signals must be used to indicate turning or stopping of your vehicle. In addition, bicyclists must yeild the right of way to pedestrians at all times.
  6. Riding at Night -- A white headlight is required when operating the bicycle after dark. Bicycle reflectors are also required for night driving. Use reflectors, lights and reflective tape on your bike and on your body. Wear a reflective vest and put reflective tape on your helmet. Be safe and be visible!

In addition to the rules required by law, it's good practice to make sure the roadway is clear before entering. Always ride single file and look ahead for obstacles such as car doors opening. Being aware of potential dangers in the roadway will make your journey safer.

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