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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Questions and Answers on Bicycle Safety

Questions and Answers on Bicycle Safety
By:  Michael Lander

Since returning to cycling in 2007, I have been an active proponent of an activity that
I have really come to love.  Along with that, because of some of the risks and dangers
that are involved with cycling, I have also felt the need to encourage and promote
safety for all those who decide to ride.

 On Aug. 8, 2013, University of Memphis Daily Helmsman Reporter, Samantha Esgro, asked six questions of me for a possible feature story that the editorial staff had assigned to her on bicycle safety.  Even though the story never ran, I thought that it was a topic that would still be of interest and concern to those who ride a bike.  With them in mind, I decided that I would share the questions and answers that I provided to The Daily Helmsman, with some additional information included, in the hope that it will further promote safety for all cyclists.

Question #1:  What are some of the basic rules cyclists (bikers) should know before they begin?
:  Some of the very basic rules that cyclists should follow are pretty simple and more-or-less common sense.  Cyclists should act no different than any motorized vehicle operators do on the road.  Since they are moving slower, though, they should stay on the far right of the road so that cars and other motor vehicles can easily pass them.  They should also obey all the rules of the road, stopping at red lights, etc.  At intersections they should give hand signals to indicate which direction that they are going in and it is also important that they go with the flow of traffic and not against it.  If at all possible, they should try to avoid riding on sidewalks.  If they must ride on a sidewalk, it is important that the cyclist slow down and that they yield to any pedestrians. I have a website that I developed and maintain that provides some other useful tips and helpful information for cyclists at: and I offer additional information on twitter @memphiscyclist.  There is also an excellent five and half minute Tiger Bike Safety video, (uploaded on Oct. 2, 2013), that was created for students at the University of Memphis that others might also find extremely helpful as well.  
Question #2:  Why are these rules necessary to follow?
Answer:  As for the rules, I would probably advise that every cyclist take them all serious and to follow them as best they can.  Unlike a car, cyclists have no barrier or protection if they are hit so they cannot afford to do anything wrong, like running stop signs or red lights.  Doing so could cause them serious injury or even result in death.

Question #3:  Can you think of any rules that people wouldn't guess existed?
Answer:  I am not exactly sure what rules people may or may not be aware of, but the biggest things that I see bicyclists that do that are wrong includes riding against traffic instead of with it and riding on the sidewalks when they should actually be out on the road instead.

Question #4:  Where can beginner cyclists (bikers) go to find a list of laws?
Answer:  Local and state laws for cycling can be found by doing a search on the Internet, but I would advise that beginning cyclists in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi go to my website for a list of laws.  I created this specifically to help give cyclists one place to go to get a complete set of laws concerning cycling.  Here is a link to that webpage:

Question #5:  How safe is cycling (biking)?
Answer:  Like anything else, there are some risks involved in cycling, especially for those who are on the roads, but it should not be enough to stop anyone from doing it.  The main thing that cyclists should do is to always pay attention and to know and to follow the rules of the road as anyone else on the road should do.  For their own
safety, cyclists should also do a couple of additional things to help minimize the risks.  For starters, I always recommend that they wear a helmet.  In addition to that, I would advise them to wear brightly-colored clothes and that they have reflectors & lights on their bikes, especially if riding in the early morning or late evening, so that they can easily be seen.  It is also a good idea to make sure that a bike is in good working order, with the tires inflated to the appropriate PSI (as indicated on the tires) and that the brakes are working properly.  Also, cyclists should always make it clear what they are doing and where they are going by giving the appropriate hand signals.  Above all else, cyclists should always be aware of what is going on around them and not leaving others guessing what they are about to do or where they are going.

Question #6:  How long have you been cycling (biking)? What got you started?
Answer:  I started back to cycling in 2007.  Since then, I have really gotten into it and have ridden for many charitable causes that I wanted to support.  That was really the biggest motivator for me to ride.  In addition to that though, I have also found cycling to be a lot of fun and that it is a great way to get exercise and to stay in shape.  I also like that it is an environmentally-friendly means of transportation too.  What has made cycling even more enticing for me has been what the City of Memphis has done to make cycling even better and safer for cyclists with new bike lanes and trails and by appointing the first Bike & Pedestrian Coordinator.  Because of all this, and my love for cycling, I created my cycling website to give Memphis area cyclists everything that they might want or need to know and it is also my way of giving back to the local community.  I hope that this, and all of the many efforts that have been made in Memphis will get people to consider riding a bike and maybe doing that instead of just jumping in a car whenever they want to go somewhere.  It would be better for them and the environment if they did.

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