May is National Bike Month, and there is no shortage of great reasons to choose to bike: get exercise, save gas money, avoid the stress of driving, cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, and receive a Bike Commuter Tax Benefit. For 56 years, National Bike Month has been a movement to get people biking more and more safely. Yet, the US bike movement has been around longer than that! Back in 1880, the League of American Bicyclists was founded as the League of American Wheelmen. Over time the Wheelmen became the League of American Bicyclists, all along advocating for cyclists’ rights.
Next week, May 14-18, is Bike to Work Week, and next Friday, May 18, is Bike to Work Day. For more information about the benefits of biking to work, check out this booklet which includes helpful tips for bike commuters.
Virginia has a very active bicycle advocacy group, the Virginia Bicycling Federation. The VBF website has great information about road rides and trail rides in Virginia, safety tips, and advocacy work. You can also check out the Tidewater Bicycle Association for rides in Hampton Roads.
Locally, the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization staff is working to research best practices in bike and pedestrian planning across the United States and worldwide. The research scan will be expanded to develop a comprehensive inventory of existing non-motorized facilities in the Hampton Roads region. The development of the inventory will also include an objective analysis of the existing facilities and an understanding of the users of the system. The broad review and subsequent analyses will help develop multi-modal strategies for a safe, efficient and sustainable transportation system. The Hampton Roads Planning District Commission staff is participating on trail planning committees which aim to overlap or connect biking, walking, boating, and horse riding trails within and beyond the region.
Review these six Rules of the Road from the League of American Bicyclists to help prepare yourself for a safe and fun bike ride. For more educational resources, visit the League’s Ride Better page or sign up for a Smart Cycling class.
1. Follow the law.
Your safety and the image of bicyclists depend on you. You have the same rights and duties as drivers. Obey traffic signals and stop signs. Ride with traffic; use the rightmost lane headed in the direction you are going.
2. Be predictable.
Make your intentions clear to motorists and other road users. Ride in a straight line and don’t swerve between parked cars. Signal turns, and check behind you well before turning or changing lanes.
3. Be conspicuous.
Ride where drivers can see you; wear bright clothing. Use a front white light and red rear light and reflectors at night or when visibility is poor. Make eye contact with drivers. Don’t ride on sidewalks.
4. Think ahead.
Anticipate what drivers, pedestrians, and other bicyclists will do next. Watch for turning vehicles and ride outside the door zone of parked cars. Look out for debris, potholes, and utility covers. Cross railroad tracks at right angles.
5. Ride Ready.
Check your tires have sufficient air, brakes are working, chain runs smoothly, and quick release wheel levers are closed. Carry repair and emergency supplies appropriate for your ride. Wear a helmet.
6. Keep your cool.
Road rage benefits no-one and always makes a bad situation worse.