Now that clocks have been set forward and the weather is warming up, many of you may be considering getting back on your bike for your daily commute.
Follow these simple suggestions to have a safe and enjoyable ride to downtown:
- A properly fitted helmet can mean the difference between life and death. Spokane County requires a helmet with bike use. The helmet should be worn level with your head. Helmets are designed to withstand only one crash, immediately replace any damaged helmets. Apply reflective tape to your helmet to make you more visible to motorists.
- Gloves are both safety clothing and comfort clothing. They protect hands in the event of a crash, improve grip and reduce road vibration. Heavier, full-finger gloves make riding in cold or wet weather comfortable.
- Wearing clothing or accessories (e.g. reflective arm/leg bands, vests) that make you more conspicuous can help make up for the fact that drivers often are not used to scanning for objects smaller than cars. In daylight conditions, fluorescent or light-colored items are very visible, but at night, reflective items are most effective at increasing your visibility. Motorists will appreciate your efforts to make yourself more visible to them and may be more considerate.
- Ideal cycling footwear is stiff-soled, waterproof and comfortable to walk in. Some cyclists use special shoes but common footwear such as hiking boots or sneakers may suffice for your commute.
Take steps to ensure that your bike is a less-attractive target to a thief:
- Consider where and how long your bike must be parked when deciding how to secure it. If possible, keep your bike in your office or in a secured room at your workplace.
- If your bike must be parked outside, lock your frame and both wheels to an immovable object. Don’t lock your bike to a sign or other object that can be easily unbolted, bent, cut or removed. Pick a well-traveled, lighted place — thieves dislike working in exposed areas.
- Consider leaving your heavy U-lock at work, locked to the bike parking rack, and carrying a light cable lock with you for quick errands. At work, use both locks because thieves need different large, bulky tools for each type of lock. This requires more time and more risk for the thief, plus some thieves only carry tools to break one kind of lock, not both, making your bike impossible for them to steal.
- When not in use, cable locks can be wrapped around the seatpost and U-locks can often be carried on a rear rack. This frees up space on the frame for other accessories.
- Many lock manufacturers offer warranties that will cover the cost of a replacement if your bike is stolen while using their lock. Be aware that such insurance may not be free.
- Take all easily removed accessories with you when leaving your bike unattended.
- Register your bike. Every year, C.O.P.S. volunteers register hundreds of bicycles throughout the city of Spokane. Contact your local C.O.P.S. substation to register your bike. Find more information here.
- U-locks are among the strongest locks available, but they are heavy and rigid — if they cannot get around an object such as a pipe or tree, they cannot secure your bike. One of the main ways U-locks are broken is by inserting tools inside the “U” to pry it open. Minimize this space by getting as small a U-lock as is practical. Then, take up the remaining space by locking your front wheel along with the rear wheel and frame when securing your bike.
- Cable locks offer more flexibility and are lighter weight than U-locks. Because they usually offer less security, they’re best used in well-traveled areas and on quick errands. Cable locks with the lock built in are lighter and more convenient than those that require a separate combination or padlock.
- Some “all-in-one” cables are opened with keys while others are combination locks. You won’t have to keep track of a key if you choose one with a built-in combination lock.
For other green travel options into downtown, check out our webpage here.