One way our nation (and I) persevered through the COVID-19 pandemic was through a great increase in bicycle riding. I know that cycling throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, particularly in Marin County, was what kept me sane during an insane time. Mountain Biking brings us closer to nature, exposes us to wonderful views, and is exhilarating. Riding a bike is a great way to exercise and to commute to work or school, a respectful way of getting together with one’s friends while social distancing, and it is particularly excellent because it happens outside, and you get to enjoy a fun, thrilling sport with your friends. Bicycling is now more popular than ever before.
At the height of the pandemic, from March through mid-June of last year, there was a 21 percent increase in urban-area ridership compared with the same time frame in 2019. During the same period, there was a 110 percent increase in bike ridership on trailways across the U.S., according to the nonprofit organization Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. With the upswing in bicycling, it’s a good idea to become familiar with routine bike maintenance and some important bicycle safety tips to help avoid contributing to an increase in bicycle accidents.
Basic Bike Maintenance Tips
Since the beginning of the pandemic, bike repair shops have been overflowing with customers, and it is not uncommon for cyclists to wait weeks before receiving a bike tune-up or even routine replacement parts. If you happen to run into this scenario, don’t let it deter you from getting back into biking. Instead, invest some time learning how to do a few easy repairs at home with the right equipment and help from the Internet.
First, you’ll need to collect the right tools, including hex wrenches, tire levers, screwdrivers (both Philips and flathead) and a tire patch kit. Next, become familiar with some of the reliable cycling sources readily available. For example, visit the League of American Bicyclists, where videos will show you how to customize your bike to fit you and ensure you have a safe ride. Another good place for bike repair help is YouTube videos dedicated to bike repairs like fixing a flat tire, working on brakes and the ins and outs of derailleurs and shifting.
Once you have your bike ready to go, keep in mind that trails and pathways in the San Francisco Bay Area and across the U.S. are busier than usual. Therefore, it is more important than ever to be safety conscious so you don’t end up in a bicycle accident with another rider, motor vehicle, or pedestrian.
- Before heading out, take a quick ride on your bike to ensure everything is working correctly. Follow the League of American Bicyclists “ABC Quick Check: A is for Air, B is for Brakes, C is for cranks and chain, ‘Quick’ is for quick releases, and ‘Check’ is for check it over.” I also check my tires before each and every ride.
- Along with having tools in your garage, carry a mini-repair kit with you on your ride. Some items to include are a portable tire pump and tire patch kit, a spare inner tube, and a multi-tool equipped with a mini-wrench.
- Always ride with a properly fitting bike helmet. Don’t use a different type of sports helmet, such as a skateboarding helmet, for biking.
- Wear bright, highly-visible clothing so you can be seen by other motor vehicles.
- Remember, cyclists must follow all traffic laws, street signs, signals and road markings. Ride in the same direction as motor vehicle traffic.
- Use hand signals when turning. It is a bicycle law.
- Ride single file, especially in crowds, and avoid swerving or making maneuvers that surprise other users of the road.
- Riding at night is discouraged for all ages, but especially children. Even when wearing highly reflective clothing, bicyclists can be hard to see at night. If it’s necessary to ride at night, make sure you have reflectors and lights on both the front and rear. There are minimum standards for bicycle lights in California as well.
- Never assume that motorists can see you.
By following these tips, you can have a safer and more enjoyable bike riding experience. However, bicycle collisions can happen. If you’ve been injured in a biking accident in the San Francisco Bay Area and want to discuss your legal options, please feel free to contact our experienced San Francisco biking attorneys at Choulos, Choulos & Wyle. Call me at 415-432-7290, or visit www.ccwlawyers.com for a free consultation. All calls and email inquiries are covered by the attorney-client privilege and are strictly confidential.
Claude A. Wyle is a partner of Choulos Choulos, and Wyle, a San Francisco based law firm dedicated to representing clients who have been injured by the wrongful conduct of individuals, corporations, public entities, and businesses. Mr. Wyle also frequently sits as a Judge Pro Tem for the city and county of San Francisco.