Bike Bob’s Factoid-Free* Potpourri  - Home



Copyright 1987, by Bob Soetebier

Before we get started, let me emphasize the importance of a good

working knowledge of emergency first aid.  Always carry basic

first-aid supplies.  Familiarize yourself with the symptoms and

treatment of  weather-related conditions like hypothermia and heat

exhaustion. (I recommend reading the Pocket Medical Encyclopedia &

First Aid Guide by Dr. James Bevan [Simon & Schuster.]

     Avoid fatigue, listlessness, and muscle cramps by eating fresh

fruit and drinking water frequently before, during and after riding.

Good diet, adequate conditioning, moderate pace, proper dress, and

sufficient rest breaks also go a long way in the prevention of these


     Of prime importance is the wearing of a bicycle helmet, along

with its wetable sizing pads and vent holes, which can actually keep

you cooler by providing travelling shade!  It is the cheapest

insurance you can get as helmet use can prevent over 75% of all

bicycling deaths and serious head injuries!  NEVER leave the house

without your helmet, eye protection, water bottles, tools, patch kit,

pump, rain protection, sunscreen, and first aid.  (Sounds like a lot,

but you'll regret being without them when they're needed!)

     To increase visibility:  WEAR BRIGHT-COLORED CLOTHING, orange or

yellow best.  Use a horizontal, (NOT vertical) 18-inch, spring-mounted

bicycle/traffic-spacer safety that is is BOTH fluorescent

for daytime, AND retro-reflective like stop signs, for night. (If you

must ride at night, be sure to have proper lighting front and rear.)

     If at all possible, avoid riding in the rain: Lightning kills

more people annually than tornadoes!  Aluminum rims have good stopping

power, but all wheels require longer stopping distances when wet and

traction is reduced, so be sure to "feather" your brakes.  Oil slicks

are particularly hazardous during the first hour of rain; avoid those

slippery painted lines and any wet metal, too.  Watch out for

"puddles" as these can be potholes in disguise!  Be especially

cautious on downhills and curves for wet leaves, and gravel/mud


     All bicycle riders are required to obey the same rules of the

road as motor vehicles.  Ride WITH traffic.  Do NOT "hug" the edge of

the road!  ALWAYS allow at least 1- to 3-feet of usable

[debris/pothole/crack-free] paved surface on your RIGHT to avoid such

obstacles as, glass, rocks, debris, and grates without swerving

drastically.   Riding in a predictable manner is one of the keys to

bicycle safety.  To avoid opening car doors:  ALWAYS stay 3- to 4-feet

out from parked cars; do NOT weave in and out between them!  Always

try to ride predictably, in a striaght line.

     The major cause of auto/bicycle accidents is "Wrong-way riding",

opposing traffic at intersections.  Other major causes of accidents

are not stopping at stop signs and going too fast on downhills.

(Practice emergency stops BEFORE the need arises!)

     A final word:  Bicycle paths, bicycle lanes, and shoulders are

much more hazardous than the roadway because of their inherently

dangerous auto/bicycle intersectional conflicts, lack of maintenance,

build-up of debris, overhanging branches, short sight-distances, and

congestion from other unpredictable users, such as:  Pedestrians,

joggers, roller skaters, skateboarders, ski rollers, and dog walkers.

If you must use these "facilities," be sure to go slow and be

extremely cautious and alert at all times!  (Sidewalk riding is

illegal, as it should be, in most areas.)