When temps are cooler, Phoenix cyclists hit the road for fun and for daily commutes. Photo By: twak via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

3 Ways to Stay Safe When Biking Phoenix Streets

Arizona’s generally blue skies and warm temps are ideal for bicycle enthusiasts who share roadways with vehicles throughout the year. But now that temps have cooled down, seasonal riders will be joining – either for work commutes, exercise or recreation.

In fact, a new bike share program, Grid Bike, will add more than 500 bikes to Phoenix and several hundred more to the cities of Tempe and Mesa this year. The program launches in Phoenix in early 2014 and encourages people to use the bikes for fun, errands and commutes.

With Grid Bike bringing more wheels and riders onto local roads, now is a good time to review bike safety.

Size Up Your Ride

It’s important for cyclists to ride bikes that properly fit them. The League of American Bicyclists recommends that the owner of a road bike have 1 to 2 inches of space between the bike frame and their body when they are straddling the frame of the bike. If you’re riding a mountain or hybrid bike, the space should be 3 to 4 inches.

The League also says the seat should be positioned so there’s a slight bend at the knee when the pedal is pushed down, and the seat’s angle should be tilted no more than 5 degrees up or down.

Follow the Rules of the Road

While a properly fitting frame and ride comfort are important, it’s also necessary to be street-wise when cycling where cars are on the road.

The Arizona Department of Transportation Bicycle and Pedestrian Program offers the following guidelines:

Ride on the right: Always ride with the flow of traffic. Signal before you stop and learn and use hand signals so drivers are aware of your intentions.

Ride predictably: Follow the same rules motorists do, and travel in a straight line without swerving.

Obey traffic control devices (signs, signals, lane markings): Bicyclists must follow the rules of the road just like other vehicles. This includes riding through intersections. Keep your bike in the right-most lane that goes in your direction. If you’re traveling through an intersection that has a turn lane, get in the through lane and not in lanes to the right of any vehicles that may be turning.

Ride defensively: Anticipate hazards and be at the ready to adjust your position in traffic. Enter streets and intersections cautiously. Always check for oncoming traffic.

Be visible and be seen: Wear bright colors to increase your visibility to drivers.

Protect Your Bike — And Yourself

The Arizona Department of Transportation Bicycle and Pedestrian Program also recommends that cyclists always wear a helmet, even on short trips. In Maricopa County, it’s not mandatory by law for cyclists to wear a helmet, although it is strongly encouraged, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation officials. Riders in Tucson and Sierra Vista and in Yuma and Pima counties have mandatory helmet laws.

The League of American Bicyclists encourages riders to help avoid theft by safely locking bikes to permanent fixtures. The League also suggests asking your place of employment if you can store your bike indoors or in your office.

As an additional safeguard for your bike, consider including it as personal property under your homeowners or renters insurance policy. Personal property coverage can offer protection against various causes of damage or loss of covered property.

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