Riding in the Road: 8 Tips for Safe Cycling

Andrew_Peter_May07-001As a bike rider, it can be challenging to feel comfortable riding in the road with motor vehicles, but roads are often the best way to get from A to B whether for shopping, commuting or enjoying a ride. Learning to ride defensively can increase your comfort and safety, and expand the number of roads where you can ride. Here are some tips for defensive bicycling.

  • Choose your route 
    • Before your ride, select a route with the lightest or slowest traffic or the widest shoulder that gets you where you want to go. Select a route where you’re comfortable riding.
  • Ride predictably
    • Ride in a straight line, in the direction of traffic on the right side of the road. However, don’t hug the curb. Leave room to safely navigate issues such as pot holes, debris, sewer grates and other obstacles.
    • Obey traffic signs and signals, they’re for both bicyclists and motor vehicles.
    • Use extra caution around turning vehicles and at intersections. Avoid passing stopped vehicles on the right.
    • Use extra caution around large vehicle like trucks and buses, which have a larger blind spot and make wider turns.
    • When there is a short gap between parked cars, ride in a straight line rather than weaving in and out. This way, drivers see where you want to go and you can avoid merging back into the travel lane when you have to pass the next parked car.
    • Don’t swerve at the last second to avoid potholes or debris. Instead, move over early when you notice an obstacle up ahead.
  •  Be visible
    • When a travel lane is too narrow for both a bike and motor vehicle to share, move towards the center of the lane to make yourself more visible to motorists.
    • Use a front white light and red rear light in low-light conditions and at night. It’s New Jersey law.
    • Wear bright, highly visible clothing, preferably with reflective tape or patches.
  • Avoid distractions and hazards
    • Keep your head up and be aware of your surroundings.
    • Ride four feet from parked cars to stay out of the “door zone,” where you could collide with an opening car door.
    • Avoid drinking, eating, using your phone, or anything that requires your hands while bicycling.
    • At large, complicated or busy intersections, consider getting off your bike and walking across.
  • Communicate
    • Look behind you and scan for oncoming vehicles before making all turns.
    • Signal your turns, especially in mixed traffic and around other cyclists.
    • Make eye contact with drivers and pedestrians.
  • On the trail or sidewalk
    • When riding near pedestrians, let them know you’re there using a bell or your voice.
    • Reduce speed when passing pedestrians and other cyclists.
    • Slow down and use extra care at intersections and blind corners.
  • Have the right equipment
    • Wear a helmet every time you ride.
    • Ride a bike that’s the right size for you.
    • Keep your bike in good working order. Check tire pressure, brakes, and chain regularly.
  • Ride more and learn more!
    • When driving look carefully for bicyclists before turning left or right, merging into bicycle lanes and opening doors next to moving traffic. Respect the right of way of bicyclists because they are entitled to share the road with you.
    • Consider taking a Smart Cycling class from the League of American Bicyclists.

The Best Commute in New Jersey

kmm guest post blogI boast to myself often, and sometimes to co-workers, that I have the best commute in New Jersey!   My name is Sam Gilbert, and I bicycle several days a week from Middlesex Borough to the Johnson and Johnson campus in New Brunswick.  Approximately 6 miles of my 9 mile commute is along the Delaware and Raritan Canal towpath. I enter the towpath at the Queen’s Bridge in South Bound Brook, and exit it at the Landing Lane Bridge.  And, it is a truly a pleasurable ride.

I average 70 or 80 bike commutes a year, excluding the winter.   Though I carry rain gear in my back pack when the weather is “iffy,” I tend to ride on days when the weather reports are favorable.  And, in case you’re wondering, I do have access to a shower at work!!

An added treat is the wildlife I enjoy along the canal.  A casual birder, I have seen herons, osprey, a great Horned Owl, a Bald Eagle and more!  Deer are a given.  But, raccoons, foxes, squirrels, muskrats are also to be seen.  And then, there are the beavers.

KMM guest post blogIn the past few years, there has been a population explosion of Beavers in NJ. I’ve seen few of them along the canal in the past.   But this year, beavers are swimming in the canal almost every day! There is beaver hut on the bank of the canal approximately 100 yards south of the footbridge near where Demott Lane meets the canal.  A beaver is often seen in this area, and I see another near the Landing Lane Bridge.  I suspect there is a beaver hut in this area.

“The best bicycle commute in NJ?  OK, maybe I exaggerate, but only slightly.   I REALLY do enjoy my ride.  Perhaps some other NJ Bike commuters will share their experiences of cycling to work.  If there is a better bicycle commute than mine, I’d sure like to read about it.

Post written by guest blogger, S. Gilbert.  Photos by guest blogger, S. Gilbert

A Close Call Close to Work ~ Part 1

They say your life passes before your eyes just before you die.  I don’t know if that’s true but a close call on May 27 made me realize I‘m not eager to find out.

Walking back from lunch, I stopped at a 3 way intersection about a block from KMM.  There are 3 stop signs and a speed limit of 25 MPH.  Signage reminds drivers to stop for pedestrians who are crossing the one way street.  On this bright, sunny day, there were no vehicles in the intersection and none approaching. I looked left then right, and feeling it was  safe, I stepped off of the curb and began to cross.

Suddenly, from the corner of my eye, I noticed a SUV barreling toward me.  Speeding closer and closer, the vehicle showed no signs of slowing down let alone stopping.  It was going to hit me. With seconds to spare, I rushed back to the sidewalk. I focused my eyes on the driver, a well-dressed 60-ish man.  A woman was in the passenger seat.  The couple appeared to be arguing and looking at each other, not the street.

In the panic stricken moments that followed, I realized I was lucky to be alive, but was too stunned to scream, “you almost killed me!”  Bill Neary, my colleague, witnessed the incident, and did the yelling for me. But, it didn’t matter.  The SUV was long gone and the driver totally unaware of the near miss.

Back in my office, I sat silently, taking deep breaths, and replaying the entire incident in my mind.  I asked myself, “how did this happen?”

As a transportation specialist involved with traffic safety issues, I mentally reviewed the 3 Es of traffic management — Engineering, Enforcement and Education.  The engineering and enforcement aspects including road design, pavement markings, speed limit and stop signs to control traffic were all present.  The missing element was education.

Anyone who sits behind the wheel must respect the rules of the road and understand the risks and dangers of driving.  Drivers must stay ALERT and pay attention to roadway conditions, speed limits and traffic signs. A driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or who is experiencing rage, anger, or other distractions should not drive until he or she is back to normal, especially in a downtown setting with many pedestrians walking around during the lunch hour.

This incident made me I realize that I am not only responsible for my own behavior and safety but, I must also be mindful of the improper driving behaviors of others. It reminded me that life is so unpredictable and that we should never take it for granted.  You never know if you can go back home.pedSlide1

#BikeToWorkNJ – Come be a part of it!

#biketoworkNJ

Have you registered your ‪#‎biketoworkNJ‬ ride with KMM?

Everyone who registers not only helps add to our total miles in May,

but has the chance to win 2 tickets to the State Theatre!

Every Ride Counts!
 Register your ride with KMM.
Track your miles biked for each ride and KMM will
send you a survey so that we can tally our miles.
Together we can do it!

Bike to Work Week is an international event that encourages commuters to ride their bike to work at least once during the two weeks. The event ultimately raises awareness about the ease of using a bicycle for everyday transportation needs and the environmental and health benefits of doing so.

#biketoworkNJ

AND…

If you find yourself in New Brunswick on May 20th between 11am and 2pm, join us at the #BiketoWorkNJ  event at Kilmer Park.  This free, fun-filled event will feature live music, a bike safety demo and safety information.  Brown bag your lunch or grab lunch from one of the dozen delicious eateries in downtown New Brunswick and lunch with us.