The Safer Cyclist: 5 Tips to Keep You Right-Side-Up

Editor’s Note

By Diane Rudholm

Photo at right: In true Northwest style, Diane Rudholm thinks about her bicycle while drinking coffee. Photo by Leyland Rudholm

Washington State is fantastically bike-friendly. We have well-maintained bike trails, protected bike lanes sprouting up hither and yon, and a brand-spanking-new bike share. Even so, I wonder why we aren’t biking more.

A report by Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) from last autumn suggests that more than half of people who have access to bikes in the Seattle area would cycle more often if they felt safer. What’s a cyclist to do?

Tune up and tune often

You don’t have to have the newest and trendiest bicycle to ride safely. But, your bike should be in good working order. Either learn how to tune up your bike yourself or take it to a local pro—the latter isn’t as expensive as you might think.

Bring what you need

Invest in a small tool kit and in the gear you like best (helmets, reflectors and lights are important). Make sure your presence is obvious to cars, pedestrians and other cyclists. Make yourself doubly visible by biking with a friend.

Know and follow the rules

Be aware of the traffic and bicycle laws in your area—know where you can ride, what gear is required and how to safely communicate with motorists. Predictability is key for helping drivers maintain a safe distance from your bike.

Find the best route

Plan your routes whenever you can using road and trail maps. Look up street closures before you head out. If you know there are a ton of bike accidents in certain places, take the five-minute detour. And, do your best to avoid bridges that don’t have a bike lane or shoulder.

Advocate for change

When you see road or trail conditions that are hazardous to cyclists, take the time to call or write to your city or county. Connect with other cyclists who care about bicycle safety, and advocate for change—because your safety matters.

Resources

Washington

Seattle Master Bicycle Plan: www.seattle.gov/transportation/bikemaster.htm
Pronto! Bike Share: www.pugetsoundbikeshare.org
Report a Pothole (Seattle): www.seattle.gov/Transportation/potholereport.htm
(206) 684-ROAD
Report a Pothole (King County): www.kingcounty.gov/transportation
(206) 296-8100 or (800) KCROADS
Seattle Street Closures: www.seattle.gov/transportation
Washington Bikes: www.wabikes.org

Oregon

Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030: www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/index.cfm?c=44597
Portland Bike Share (Coming soon!): www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/57983
Report a Pothole (Portland): www.portlandonline.com/transportation
(503) 823-1700
Portland Street Closures: www.portlandonline.com/transportation
Bicycle Transportation Alliance: www.btaoregon.org

Diane Rudholm is the managing editor and social media manager of OutdoorsNW. She’s looking forward to seeing what new cycling programs do for Seattle’s cycling culture and safety. Send comments here or @OutdoorsNWmag

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