This site is brought to you by the Merced County Association of Governments
NORTHERN CALIFORNIA NEVADA CYCLING ASSOCIATION
To protect their eyes, many cyclists wear sunglasses or clear goggles, especially with contact lenses.
If you don't have a rear carrying rack or front basket, you might use a backpack which can strain your shoulders and make balancing harder.
Instead, make your bike carry your stuff! Use bungee cords to tie things to your carrying rack. If you carry things often you should invest in panniers, the bags that hang from the side of your rack.
Every cyclist gets flats, often far from home.
Always carry a spare inner tube or a patch kit, and tools to get your tube out.
Use tire irons (best) or a screwdriver (not as good); a wrench if you don't have quick-release hubs; an old sock to cover your hand when you grab your chain; and a hand pump, or a quarter to pay for a gas-station pump.
Practice at home beforehand.
California requires helmets on all bicyclists under 18 years old.
If you ride at night or in bad weather
Toe clips give your pedaling more power. But if they're not adjusted right, the clips can lock your feet to your pedals so you can't put a foot down when you lose your balance.
Getting your pants caught in your chain can make you lose control.
Keeping your tires at their maximum air pressure gives you fewer flats.
Puncture-proof tire liners, self-sealing tubes, and Kevlar-belted tires all help.
Children aren't as careful as adults when they ride--so they should always wear helmets.
Always put helmets on kids who you're carrying by bike; in a collision, very little protects them from flying off of the bike or trailer.
Equipping your bike
Commuting cyclists have a few simple ideas about equipment that make biking a whole lot safer--and easier. Here's what they recommend.
A must everywhere! Why wear a helmet? Because nearly 1,000 American bicyclists die in crashes each year-and around three-fourths die from head injuries. Hundreds more suffer permanent brain damage. Many of these are experienced, careful riders--maybe just like you. And most of these head injuries can be prevented with bike helmets.
You say a helmet's too much of a hassle? It'd make your head sweat? Mess up your pretty hair? It's too expensive? You'd look like a geek? Think how good these sayings would look on your gravestone.
Nearly all helmets today are hard shell. They have a thin plastic surface on top of a soft foam core. The outer plastic allows it to skid when you hit rough pavement, rather than catch on something and break your neck.
Look on the inside of the helmet: It should have a CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) certification sticker. The CPSC rating has been required on helmets sold in the US since March 1999. Older helmets may still have Snell, ANSI or ASTM certification.
You must have a good fit. A snug fit means that if your head hits and skids, the helmet stays in place. Most brands of adult helmets come in two or three sizes, and you make them fit by adjusting the chin strap and putting foam pads around the inside. Don't wear your helmet back on your head because it won't protect your skull if you fall forward.
Test Helmet for a Good Fit
The helmet sits level on your head. You can't shift the helmet to the front, back, or sides of your head. With the straps correctly tightened, you can't possibly get the helmet off. If the helmet fails these, adjust the straps, put in different pads, or try another size. Ask your bike shop staff to help you with a proper fit.
Compared to the cost of emergency room visits--or funerals--helmets are cheap. You can get a decent CPSC-rated bike helmet for around $30, although they can run up to $150 or more in price. More costly helmets usually aren't much safer, but they have better ventilation, weigh less, and look cool.
A helmet's ventilation depends on front-to-back airflow. Good airflow comes from long, wide air vents. Bald, light-skinned cyclists beware: big vents can cause weird tan lines!
Cheaper helmets are usually not much heavier than expensive ones--and most cyclists adjust to them easily. If you think you want an light helmet, test-ride a heavier one to make sure.
You can pay a lot of money for style. But don't be fooled. No matter how aerodynamic a helmet looks, it won't help you go faster.
This page was last updated on January 23, 2012