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Safety

The safety of our cyclists is the number one priority at Bike MS. Each year, tens of thousands of participants join in more than 85 rides across the nation. There is a great mix of riders with different experience and skill levels on the road together. To help ensure that you and everyone have a great ride and arrives safely at the finish line, please review this safety information about personal safety, group riding skills, cycling etiquette and bike maintenance.

Safety Resources:

Bike Care

More Cycling Tips from Bicycling Magazine

Check these things after each ride, and next time you'll roll without a hitch.

5 Minute Inspection, written by Natasha Grief, Bicycling Magazine

Most cyclists, if they check their bikes at all, wait to do it five minutes before the group is about to start rolling. What's the point? No one's going to wait for you to remedy a cracked frame or a torn sidewall. Be one of the smart ones: Give your bike this once-over after each ride, so you're ready to go at the drop of a hat—or helmet.

Quick-Release

Check for: Side-to-side play in the wheel; QRs or skewers that aren't tight or secure
How? Make sure quick-releases are closed all the way, and that bolt-on skewers are securely fastened.
On your next ride: Your wheel won't come loose and detach from your bike midride.

Wheel

Check for: Trueness
How? While spinning the wheel, watch the distance between the rim and the brake pad. It should be uniform for the entire rotation. If it wobbles, the wheel needs truing. (Watch our pro true a wheel at http://www.bicycling.com/maintenance/bike-washing/subtle-art-wheel-truing.)
On your next ride: Your wobbly wheel won't lead to more serious problems, such as a shudder while descending or brake pads rubbing.

Brakes

Check for: Grit on the pads, caliper alignment
How? If your brakes feel gritty, clean the pads with a rag and degreaser; replace pads if the grooves are worn more than 50 percent compared with new pads. Calipers are aligned if the pads are equidistant from the rim.
On your next ride: You won't go to grab the levers only to roll right through the stop sign at the bottom of the hill.

Tires

Check for: Low tire pressure, embedded glass, slices in the tire or sidewall
How? Inflate tires to proper pressure, and carefully remove embedded debris with tweezers. A cut tire or sidewall is prone to a blowout and shouldn't be ridden; replace it.
On your next ride: Your chances of flatting will greatly decrease, and you may have prevented a nasty midride blowout.

Seat Bag

Check for: Supplies you may have depleted on your ride
How? If you used something during a ride, replace it so it's there for the next ride. If your spare tube has been in there for a while, give it a quick inspection to make sure it's still intact.
On your next ride: You'll have a spare tube and CO2 cartridge to lend to the guy who didn't follow this postride checklist.

Cleats

Check for: Loose bolts and overall wear
How? Worn-out cleats won't engage as crisply. You'll know when they've just plain quit on you, then it's time for new cleats. Bolts can loosen over time. If your cleat isn't secure to your shoe, tighten the bolts.
On your next ride: Your foot won't pop out without warning, and you won't tumble to the ground because you couldn't disengage your cleat.

Frame

Check for: Cracks, especially at the joints
How? Using a rag and bike polish, wipe dirt and moisture from your frame. Look for cracks, flaking paint and other irregularities.
On your next ride: You'll either be on your bike because you didn't find a crack, or you'll be on your way to the shop for a pro evaluation. If your carbon frame is cracked, don't mess around. Failure could be catastrophic.

Check out these additional articles to help you prepare for Bike MS!

Basic Bike Maintenance

Learn the Basics of Bike Maintenance, brought to you from our friends at Bicycling Magazine.

Safety

The safety of our cyclists is our number one priority for Bike MS. Each year, thousands of participants join in approximately 100 rides across the nation. There will be a great mix of riders with different experience and skill levels on the road together. To help ensure that everyone has a great ride and arrives safely at the finish line, we are working together to create a proactive approach to safety.

View our safety clinic presentation (PowerPoint) to make sure you know and understand all bike safety aspects.

Then test your knowledge by taking this safety quiz! The answer key is found at the bottom of the quiz.

Safety isn’t just about wearing your cycling helmet and knowing the rules of the road. Those are very important measures, but cycling safety involves much more. Bike safety includes a wide variety of topics including hydration, bike maintenance, group riding, attire, cycling etiquette and much more.

The National MS Society strongly encourages you to review the compiled bike safety information resources below. This information will help you prepare and practice safe cycling skills.

Ride safely and have fun because there’s nothing like crossing the finish line and celebrating with your team! Don’t just ride, Bike MS.

Safety Resources:

Share the Road

Bike MS riders will encounter all types of vehicles and drivers while riding on public roads. Mutual respect and observation of traffic laws by both car drivers and bicycle riders will promote safety for everyone. Familiarize yourself with the safety tips below for both motorist and cyclist. Don't just ride, Bike MS.

Cyclist Safety Tips Motorist Safety Tips

As a cyclist, you are the most vulnerable of vehicles on the road. The majority of your time will be riding in traffic, please use the safety tips below to protect yourself.

1. Cycling Citizenship
Along with the right to cycle come responsibilities. Familiarize yourself with all applicable traffic laws and cycling rules. Each state has its own set; be aware of them. Motorists will be much more willing to accept cyclist’s rightful place on the road if cyclists act lawfully and respectfully. Do not run stop signs or red lights or use the wrong side of the street. It is best and safest to ride single file. If you are not blocking traffic and if the laws in your state permit it, there are times it is safe to ride two abreast. However, on narrow curvy canyon roads it is always best to ride single file. Riding responsibly will do wonders towards easing tensions and fostering a more harmonious environment between motorists and cyclists.

2. Right On
It is generally either illegal or unsafe to ride on a sidewalk or on the road towards oncoming traffic. As a rule, it is best to ride in the direction of traffic, staying as far to the right as is practical. However, make sure there is room to handle emergencies and that you do not ride so close to the right that you run the risk of hitting the curb and being thrown into traffic. There are times when you simply cannot stay to the far right — whether it’s to overtake another cyclist or vehicle, to make a left turn, or to avoid a hazard. Be sure to wait for a safe opportunity and use the proper hand signals when you take a lane.

3. Join In
If you are traveling at the same speed as other traffic, it may be safer to jump in and ride with traffic; because, this may make you more visible to motorists. Joining traffic is sometimes necessary because the road is simply too narrow for both a bike and a car. It is a particularly good idea to take a lane and join traffic before an intersection to make your presence known — especially for right-turning drivers who may not see you as they start their turn. When you do join traffic, make sure you never pass on the right. This is always dangerous, but particularly so in an intersection. By waiting directly behind a vehicle, you can see a car’s signals; otherwise, you never know if the motorist is about to make a right turn and hit you.

4. Use Your Head
Regardless if you’re going to the corner store or heading out on a marathon ride, always wear a helmet. Make sure it is properly fastened and fitted. (The helmet should fit snugly and not move when you shake your head.)

5. Seeing Eye to Eye
Make eye contact with drivers whenever possible. This ensures that the motorists see you and helps you assert your rightful place on the road. This “personal connection” reminds motorists that you are indeed real LIFE in need of attention and protection. Once you make that connection, motorists may give you more respect on the road.

6. The Road Straightly Traveled
Try to ride consistently and predictably. For instance, at an intersection, do not veer into the crosswalk and then suddenly reappear on the road again. Don’t thread through parked cars. With such erratic behavior, motorists will not be aware of your presence when you try to re-emerge into traffic. (Inconsistent conduct increases your chances of being squeezed out of traffic or, worse, getting hit.)

7. Playing Defense
Make sure you are always aware of your surroundings. Know what is behind you and watch out for what is in front of you. Always be on the lookout for road hazards; sand and gravel, glass, railroad tracks, parked cars, snow and slush can wreak havoc on you and your bike. Sewer grates and cracks in the road can catch your wheel and cause you to be thrown from the bike. Watch for parked cars where people may be opening doors on the driver side of the vehicle without looking. Always wait until you have ample time to make your move, whether you are changing a lane or turning a corner. Do not expect to be granted the right of way in any instance.

8. Flaunt It
Make your presence felt. Wear bright color clothing. At night or in inclement weather, it is important to use reflective lights in the front, side and rear that make you visible from all directions.

9. Helping Hands
Emergencies happen. Be prepared. Always make sure you have at least one hand on your handlebars, no matter what. Know and use your hand signals whenever you are changing lanes or making a turn.

10. Brake Away
Make sure your brakes are always in top-notch condition. Be aware of how weather and road conditions can affect your ability to brake.

Safety Tips provided by Yield To Life, www.yieldtolife.org.

As a motorist, please take into consideration that you are sharing the road with, not only other vehicles, but bicycles and motorcycles which are much more vulnerable in all traffic. Use the tips below to familiarize yourself to being more mindful of everyone on the road.

1. Different but Equal
In all states, cyclists are deemed by law to be drivers of vehicles and are entitled to the same rights on the road as motorists. Expect cyclists on the road. Watch for cyclists on the road. Treat them as you would any slow-moving vehicle.

2. Patience, not Patients
Patience, especially on the road, is a virtue, and can save lives. Your patience may involve:

  • Waiting until it is safe to pass a bicycle and refraining from tailgating.
  • Giving cyclists the right of way when the situation calls for it.
  • Allowing extra time for cyclists to go through intersections.
  • Recognizing road hazards that may be dangerous for cyclists and giving cyclists the necessary space to deal with them. In conditions where there is not enough room for a cyclist to ride to the right, they are allowed to ride closer to the lane of traffic, and sometimes even in the lane of traffic.

Never engage in conduct that harasses or endangers a cyclist. Above all: Be tolerant. Be understanding. Be careful.

3. A Passing Grade
Do not pass a cyclist until you can see that you can safely do so. You should allow ample space between your vehicle and the bicycle and make sure you do not place the cyclist in danger. If you pass too closely the drag from your car can pull a cyclist off course and cause the rider to swerve out of control.

4. The Right Behavior
Watch out for cyclists when you are turning right. A bicyclist may well be to the right of you and planning to go straight at the same intersection. Do not speed ahead of the bicyclist thinking you can negotiate the turn before they reach your car. The cyclist may be going faster than you think and, as you slow to make the turn, the cyclist may not be able to avoid crashing into the passenger side of your vehicle.

5. To The Left, to The Left
Also look for cyclists when making a left-hand turn. Cyclists who are crossing straight through the same intersection in the opposite direction may be going faster than you realize. It is particularly dangerous on a descending slope, when cyclists pick up more speed.

6. A Back-up Plan:
Bicycles, and the people who drive them, come in all shapes and sizes. When backing out of your driveway always look to see if someone is riding in your path. Children on small bikes might be hard to see. Drive slowly and look carefully.

7. Egress Etiquette
After parallel parking, make sure the coast is clear for opening the car door to exit. Make sure there are no cyclists riding alongside your car or fast approaching. By using the rear view mirrors and by turning around, a driver can spot an approaching cyclist and circumvent a disaster. A cyclist cannot anticipate when a driver will open a door, but a driver can easily detect a cyclist who may be in the line of danger.

8. Respect
Cyclists have a rightful spot on the road. Cyclists also positively impact the environment with each revolution of their wheels by opting to ride rather than drive. Do not resent cyclists. Replace frustration with a smile every time to see a cyclist.

9. Honing Your Horning Habit
Do not to honk unnecessarily at cyclists. If the need does arise to honk your horn to alert a cyclist that you are about pass, do so at a respectable distance. If you are too close, the noise itself can cause a cyclist to lose his or her bearings and create a hazardous situation for both you and the cyclist.

10. Try it, You’ll Like it
If you can’t beat them, join them. Ride a bike. It may just change your life. Riding is good for you and good for your environment. At the very least, it will give you a better appreciation for the problems cyclists face everyday on the road with respect to motorists.

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