As the sultry summer days pile on, I count the number of beach days left. I also begin thinking about cooler days and the chance to start riding my bike with fewer vacationers clogging the roads as they rush to the beach.
Cycling has been a life long activity for me. I straddled and began riding a two wheeler at three (this is what happens when you have a big sister and want to be just like her), broke my leg skidding through a free wheeling turn at four, made it through teenage angst pounding the hills of Dutchess County and used my bike as the primary mode of transportation while living in Boston (until the bike got stolen from an inside bike locker). Beside the occasional family rides during those busy SOCCER years, cycling faded into a back corner of my life until I decided to ride the Pan Mass Challenge with like-minded mid-life crisis friends. That ramped my cycling up to serious rides, racking up hundreds of miles a week in training.
Cycling has become a way of life for me. Happily, I live in Truro, a “Bike Friendly” community and there are many off road bike trails in the area for children to ride on. Best of all, Truro is so committed to safe riding that they have a Town Bike and Walkways Committee to study and implement best practices to make cycling safe in the community.
Each year the Truro Bike Committee collaborates with the Police Department and Truro Recreation to host a Bike Rodeo. This half day event features cycling drills and activities for children to learn and practice safe riding techniques along with opportunities to improve cycling skills.
Safety rules reviewed with Riders:
- Wearing helmets and knowing if they fit properly
- Wearing clothing that will not get caught in the bicycle works
- Hand signals for turning (but understanding to use hand signals only when it is safe to do so. (In essence, able to ride with only one hand comfortably, while signaling with the other)
- Slowing or stopping for pedestrians
- Safe passing and notifying cyclists before passing
- Respecting other cyclists while riding
Drills children practiced at the Rodeo:
- Speeding up and slowing down
- Practicing fast stops
- Signaling to the right and left
- Slowing and stopping for pedestrians
- Maneuvering around cones in figure eights for better control
- Practice carrying the bike as one would do if bike had a flat tire
- Slowing, or hovering, for control as needed in congested areas
Organizing the Rodeo:
- Half of a town owned parking lot is blocked off
- Sargent DeAngelo talks to the whole group, covering safety tips
- Officer Vali demonstrates drills on his bicycle
- Rec and Bike Committee members assist with organizing drills
- Cones are provided to set up specific drills
- Children are broken into two groups depending on riding ability
- Each group has it’s own space to ride and practice drills
Special Supports at the Rodeo:
- An ambulance is present in case of emergencies
- The Fire Department lends a trailer to haul the bikes
The Rodeo closes with a cookout hosted by the police department. A great way for kids to mingle with authority figures in a positive, fun filled way!
Rules of the Road for Motorists and Cyclists:
- Bicyclists have full rights to use the road.
- Bicyclists have the right to ride two abreast.
- Bicyclist are allowed to ride to the right of other traffic.
- Sidewalk riding is prohibited in many business areas.
- Drivers MUST pass cyclists at a safe distance (no less than three feet). This may require changing lanes or waiting until it is safe to pass in the oncoming traffic lane.
- Pass a bicyclist at a reasonable speed.
- Drivers must yield to cyclists when turning right or left.
- All must stop at red lights and stop signs.
- Hand signals should be used to indicate directional changes and stopping, but not if both hands are needed to control the bike.
- Riding should always occur in the same direction as the traffic.
- Bicyclists must yield to pedestrians.
- If riding at night lights must be used.
Keep in mind that if an accident occurs, the probability of serious injury to the bicyclist is huge and would be a life changer for the rider as well as the driver.
So, when you get the “itch” to pass because you are sick and tired of waiting as the cyclist crawls up that winding hill, think hard about the time spent in hospitals, court and remembering devastation caused for the rest of your life if you choose to charge ahead only to discover a pickup truck barreling down the hill around that blind bend in the road…
It’s easy to become confused about who has the right of way, especially these days as more and more cyclists share the roads with motor vehicles. Click here for a fabulous video that clears it all up.
Click here for information on How to Teach your Kids to Ride Bikes