Now that more parks and trails are open and that more workplaces are opening up there is a big increase in the number of cyclists on the roads, trials and paths in Waterloo Region. Summer is a great time to be out on a bike although as with all outdoor activities there are things to consider.
Firstly, in these times of COVID-19 make sure that if you are trail riding outdoors in parks that the parks are actually open. Take care in parking lots and anywhere that you may be in a crowd to have your face mask with you and to put it on whenever you go indoors or are within 2 metres of other people outside of your bubble of 10.
Riding on the roads and bike paths is a great way to get to work or to get exercise. You should make sure to have your helmet on and that it is fitting securely on top of your head. If it’s sitting back on your head, wobbly, or if you can put two finger or more under the chin strap then it isn’t fitting properly. You can find lots of YouTube clips on how to fit a helmet to your head. Remember that if you fall and strike your head then you should buy a new helmet. Don’t buy a used one – you don’t know if it’s been in an accident.
Consider the way your bike fits you. Riding is comfortable when the bike is properly set up. If you have a lot of knee pain or if you can’t touch the ground then your seat is not at the correct height. The seat is important too. The narrow little bike seats can be fairly uncomfortable. Look into a new seat if your bottom is sore. There are wider seats, spring loaded seats, and gel cushioned ones. Some have mesh in them in order to breathe better. The kind of seat you need will vary with your gender (yes it matters), your size, age and the natural shape of your body.
Make sure you have all the safety equipment required. LED headlights and flashing tail lights are great for safety and visibility. They are relatively cheap and work for a long time on one battery or charge. A bell is required as well and is very useful if you ride on multi purpose trails so you can warn pedestrians or slower riders that you are coming up on them and passing.
Water is essential in the hot weather. Consider freezing half your bottle and filling half with cold water to keep the entire bottle cool for longer. Camel backs are very handy for longer rides too. A back pack or saddlebags, or a trap on the back can hold your change of clothes or nutritious snacks. If you ride a lot you might find the change to cycling shoes and clip in pedals better. Be warned though, slip in peddles take some getting used to!
Wearing a brightly colour shirt is always a good idea for safety if you ride on the roads and bike lanes. Combined with flashing tail lights you are more visible to drivers. Remember that you should never assume you have the right of way when you are on a bike. Cars turning right and driveways and being doored are particularly dangerous for cyclists. If you are hit and are injured call 911 and seek medical attention. If you are struck by a car you should get their insurance and personal information as you may be entitled to medical rehab benefits. If you are in an accident and don’t have the vehicle information you may still be covered under your own car insurance. If you are seriously injured contact a lawyer. At Deutschmann Personal Injury & Disability Law we handle these cases and offer a free initial consultation.
Wearing headphones or earbuds while you cycle is not illegal but it is also not safe as you may not hear what is going on around you. If you must listen to music consider headphones that sit on your face which allow you to hear the surrounding noise as well. Sunglasses or cycling glasses are a must for keeping sand, dust and sun out of your eyes. If you ride in the rain consider waterproof gear. Make sure you have a good lock if you plan to leave your bike outside and take a picture of the bike and serial number in case it is stolen.
The Waterloo Regional Police have a cycling Safety Page. Here are tips from it:
· Be visible. Use lights, reflectors and wear reflective material
· Be predictable. Signal your intentions, ride with traffic and obey all road signals
· Always have room to manoeuver. Don't squeeze between curbs and other vehicles
· Obey traffic laws and stay close to the right edge of the road wherever possible
Children and youth
· By law, every cyclist under age 18 must wear an approved helmet.
Riders under 16 years old: a parent or guardian must make sure their child wears a helmet.
· Helmets are not compulsory for adults over 18; but a helmet can greatly reduce the risk of permanent injury or death if you fall or collide. It is strongly recommended that all riders wear helmets.
Types of helmets
The best helmets:
· are made to meet strict safety standards
· fit properly when worn correctly
Even though we tend to see an increase in bike thefts throughout the summer months, it’s a crime that can occur year round.
Bike thefts tend to be a crime of opportunity. In some instances, bikes are taken after they have been secured and others were stolen while they have been left unattended. Even if you run inside for a second- secure your bike. Don’t leave it unattended on the front lawn, porch or open garage/shed as thieves can easily access it.
It's not always possible to prevent a bike theft, but in the event that your bike is stolen, we encourage you to have the proper documentation.
Police encourage residents to use the "Snap 'N Save" program:
· Take a photo with your bike
· Take a photo of the bike’s serial number
If police locate a suspected stolen bicycle, this process will help officers identify who the bike may belong to, and return it to the rightful owner.
Other safety tips to consider:
· Always lock your bike to a solid object
· Make sure that your lock cannot be cut
· Lock your bike in a well-lit area with high foot traffic
· Bring your bike in at night. If you are storing it in a garage or shed, ensure that it is closed and secure.
If you become of victim of a stolen bicycle, report the incident to police either online or by calling 519-570-9777.