Get on your bike

Well, Reno, it’s that time again. Spring is well upon us, and sunshiny days and above-freezing nights are here. But as the trees begin to leaf out, another natural phenomenon is also reasserting its dominance on the landscape: bicycle riders.

Please consider this our more-than-annual awareness builder for the bike set. But more than alerting car-driving road users to the presence of two-wheelers, it’s also important to remind riders of safety considerations, particularly with Bike to Work day approaching on May 15. (See for more information.) suggests these six safety tips: 1. Protect your head: Wear a helmet. 2. Make eye contact with drivers: Assume that drivers don’t see you until you are sure they do. 3. Stay alert and always check traffic: Always look left-right-left to ensure that it is safe to continue. 4. Obey traffic signs and signals: Traffic laws apply to bicycles. Observe stop signs, traffic lights and other posted signs. Be sure to signal turns, lane changes and stops. 5. Avoid road hazards: Always check the road, watch out for gravel, ice, garbage, potholes, cracks, or anything in the road that could make you fall. Cross railroad tracks at right angles. 6. Go with the flow: Never ride against traffic. Motorists aren’t looking for bicyclists riding on the wrong side of the street. Ride on the right side of the road in a straight predictable path.

From the experienced bike-commuters at the World Headquarters of the Reno News & Review, here are a few more tips for safe riding: 1. Hand signals look like this: “Left,” arm is left arm straight out; “Stop,” left arm extended out from shoulder, hand down; “Right,” left arm extended out from shoulder, hand up. 2. Side streets are not necessarily safer than arterials; always make route decisions based on the actual conditions on the road. 3. People who ride without helmets are Darwin in action. (Yeah, we know we’re being redundant.) 4. Secure your pant legs. 5. Never wear headphones—might as well wear a target. 6. Increase your visibility with reflectors on clothing and helmets. 7. Don’t ride on sidewalks when there are likely to be pedestrians. 8. Have rear-view mirrors. 9. Get front and back lights. 10. Don’t get in pissing matches with cars. Yes, you have every right to be on the road. Yes, the car always wins.

Along those lines, automobile drivers should realize bike riders deserve the same respect as other vehicles on the road—the law says so. Be smart when you’re sharing the road. That means give them a wider berth than they appear to need. That means check your blind spot if swerving into the next lane because the bike rider is forced into the flow of traffic by cars parked on the street (often in the bike lane). That means be especially vigilant at dusk.

Finally, to city of Reno and Sparks and Washoe County officials. This is the time of the year to set habits for motorists and bicyclists, so get your pens ready: Cite bicyclists and motorists who break the laws of the road. For goodness sake, clean up the debris out of bike paths. How about springing for a few gallons of paint for bike lanes?

Bike riders decrease air pollution, put less wear and tear on the roads, and may even bring down health costs for the entire community. Everyone benefits, so let’s make it safer for riders.