November 5th at 2am marks the end of daylight savings time for 2017. As our clocks fall back, we will see the sun rise and set earlier, meaning that bicycle lighting will become all the more important on our evening glow rides. Bicycle lighting can be broken down into two basic categories: lights that help others see you, and lights that help you see others.
Alabama Code 32-5A-265 requires that when biking at nighttime you have a white light mounted on the front that can be seen at least 500 feet away. This same code requires a red reflector in the rear that can be seen from 500 feet away when low beams from a motor vehicle are being used. This can be established by clipping on an inexpensive LED bike light. However, these codes only establish the bare minimum of visibility – we recommend the following lights:
October usually brings, fall weather, and the slow shortening of the day. The pleasant weather begins to draw us into our beautiful Montevallo scenery, and a great way to celebrate the outdoors is with a picnic. Cycling and picnicking go hand in hand – why not break out your ride, air up those tires, and consider these tips to enjoy your very own picnic à vélo:
ValloCycle is happy to announce our latest contribution to the Montevallo cycling community. The Public Work Bicycle Stand, located on the Main Street side of University of Montevallo on Main (UMOM) was purchased and installed with a UM Green Fund Grant!
Here are some of the tools that are available for use at this excellent work stand:
When people ask us where to bike to in Montevallo, we can easily recommend Orr Park, the Parnell Memorial Library, or University of Montevallo campus as excellent examples of locations worth visiting via bicycle in our south Shelby town. However, there are so many more places to consider riding your bike to! Next time you’re up for a ride, consider the following before traveling out of town (distances calculated from the Montevallo Post Office):
The Summer Solstice occurs on June 20th (11:24 pm), bringing the first days of summer and the southern sun’s legendary heating of the south. Take a break to ride and enjoy these hot weather cycling tips:
May is National Bicycle Month, as sponsored by The League of American Bicyclists. Many of us are interested in riding bicycles, but we perceive “roadblocks” that prevent us from riding. Overcome these roadblocks to ride your way back into the saddle.
Bike Shops Seem Intimidating – Take a bit of time to prepare for your shopping trip. What are your goals? Where will you ride? How far? How often? What types of terrain? How much do you want to spend? You may also consider online reviews to find a shop with the best customer experience and service – it may not be the closest shop to your house.
Riding Is Uncomfortable – It shouldn’t be! Bicycles come in different sizes and discomfort is often directly related to a poor fit. To avoid dooming your bike to the dust pile, find the frame style and size that work for your body. Good bike shops encourage customers to take a multiple test-rides; are the brakes easy to reach? Can you put your foot down flat? Can you pedal smoothly without overextending your knees or rocking your hips? Your sales associate can adjust fit. Your bike will get more use if it is 100% comfortable.
Lycra: are you serious? – Spandex is NOT essential equipment for riding. You can ride to work, run errands, or enjoy casual rides in clothing you already own. Choose fabrics that will move with you on the bike. Protect your pants with a chain-band (tucking your pant leg into your socks also works). For longer rides, consider padded shorts and/or padded gloves.
Traffic is Scary – You don’t have to ride on the road to be a cyclist. Begin on paths or in parks that are car-free. Grow your confidence by moving to quiet neighborhoods. Maintain at least 3-feet between your bike and parked cars (to avoid opening doors). Signal as needed. Your skills will increase with practice – so ride often!
Most motorists respect cyclists on public roads, but there are still ways to help minimize the chance that you are involved in an accident with a cyclist. Follow these tips to safely coexist with your bicycle-riding neighbor.
Acknowledge Bicyclist Vulnerability – Compare the weight of a car (2 tons or 4,000 lbs on average) and a bicycle (20 lbs). The car weighs 200 times more than the bicycle. Tim Blumenthal, with the bicycle advocacy group People for Bikes states, “In any collision, any physical interaction between a car and bike, the bike always loses.”
Know Bicyclists Rights – In Alabama bicyclists in the roadway are considered vehicles with the same rights and responsibilities as cars. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) writes, “Yield to bicyclists as you would motorists and do not underestimate their speed.”
Maintain a Positive Attitude – Motorists can tend to think of cyclists as in the way. Drivers who get impatient with bicyclists tend to perceive riders as objects instead of humanizing them. Instead, imagine that rider as your friend or neighbor before you become irritated.
Yield if in Doubt – as slow as cyclists can seem, a bike can easily reach speeds of 15-25 mph. After a collision with a bicycle the driver often says he didn’t realize the cyclist was going so fast. If in doubt, always YIELD.
Give Cyclists 3 Feet – Alabama law dictates “For purposes of a vehicle overtaking and passing a bicycle, a safe distance shall mean not less than three feet.” It’s best to pass slowly and smoothly, because the tendency to suddenly speed up to pass can be quite unnerving for the cyclist.
Look Around – Many drivers who have hit cyclists say the same sobering thing: “I never saw him before I hit him.” Being aware of what is on the road, expected and unexpected, will reduce the use of this harrowing phrase.
Accepting Bicycles – Bicycles are here to stay. Coincidentally, Montevallo and bicycles are both celebrating their bicentennial this year. It’s time to make peace with them, for everyone’s safety.
People on bicycles have the same rights and responsibilities as people in cars. Bicycle riders should follow these tips to reduce the risk of a crash.
Equipment – ride a well-maintained, properly sized bike that fits you.
Clothing –wear bright clothing during the day and reflective equipment at night. Make sure to secure loose laces and pant legs to prevent them from catching in the gears.
Route – choose routes with less traffic & slower speeds. Choose bike paths & lanes where available.
Follow Rules – Ride in the same direction as traffic and obey street signs, signals, and road markings.
Ride Defensively – assume the other person does NOT see you. Look ahead for hazards or situations to avoid that may cause a fall.
Ride Predictably – motorists get a sense of what you intend to do and can react to avoid a crash.
Signal – this will communicate your intent to others. Always use your left arm to signal turns – you can signal a right-hand turn by holding your arm at a 90 degree angle with your fingertips pointing up.
Avoid sidewalks – motorists don’t expect traffic on sidewalks and don’t look there when backing up or turning.
Safely riding your bike in traffic requires preparation, practice, and experience. Confidence in traffic comes with learning how to navigate and communicate with other drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
Thinking about finally investing in a bike? Or perhaps you already own a bike, but want to ride more often? These fun facts may help tip the scales in favor of finally getting back in the saddle!
A bicycle seat is also known as a saddle. Proper saddle positioning reduces fatigue, increases comfort, and improves the efficient transfer of power to your pedals. Most modern saddles can be adjusted in three ways (height, position over seat post, and incline). Follow these tips on setting the appropriate saddle height:
Our articles also appear in the Montevallo Chamber Chatter - find us in print there!