Bicyclists Learn Tips and Safety Information

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Lead Cycling Instructor Nathalie Winiarski (front left) demonstrated hand signals when riding a bicycle.

CALEXICO — Even though bike riding is always fun, riders need skills and confidence to bicycle safely. With that in mind, the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) hosted a free Go Human Bike Safety Workshops on Monday at the Camarena Memorial Library where bicyclists were encouraged to attend.

Go Human is a community outreach campaign with the twin goals of reducing traffic collisions in Southern California and encouraging people to walk and bike more.

Those who attended learned proper helmet and bike fitting, the ABC quick-check, and rules of the road to build confidence and support for safer and more enjoyable riding in Imperial County.

“Riding a bicycle is as easy as ABC,” said Winiarski.

The ABC quick check ensures your bike is in good working order for a safer ride. A is for air; if tires give a bit when pressing with your thumb, they need air. B is for brakes; when squeezing the hand brakes, there should still be room to fit your thumb between the brake levers and the handlebars. And C is for chain, crank, cassette; make sure the bicycle chain is running smoothly – lightly oiled and free of rust and gunk.

“Always communicate with your surroundings using hand signals and keeping eye contact with vehicles at all times,” explained Nathalie Winiarski, lead cycling instructor of the League of American Cyclists who gave the PowerPoint presentation.

Winiarski is certified to teach Smart Cycling classes to children as well as adults in one-on-one presentations as well as organizations from Ventura County to Imperial County.

The workshop began by explaining the importance of bicycle and helmet fittings. Proper bike fit is especially important for people who cycle on a regular basis or ride longer distances. A quick way of doing this is to ensure 2 inches of clearance between the frame’s top-tube when standing over the bicycle.  When shaking your head from side to side, a correctly fitted helmet will stay in place. To achieve this, there must be two-finger width between eyebrows and helmet, side straps must make a Y below the ear and there should be less than half-inch between the chin and the strap.

When visibility is poor, Winiarski pointed out the importance of wearing bright clothing and/or reflective gear as well as utilizing a front white headlight, rear red light and reflectors.

 

Attendees also learned the rules of the road such as signaling, scanning, sharing the trail, riding on sidewalks and rules of the road.

“Knowing how to ride safely also means knowing the law,” said Winiarski. “Cyclists need to learn to be predictable, obey all traffic signs, make sure there is a distance of three feet around them at all times and keep eye contact with vehicles.”

In all 50 states, bicyclists are required to follow the same laws as other drivers in most circumstances such as everyone on the road is entitled to the space they are using, never ride against traffic, when approaching an intersection when you don’t have the right of way – you must yield, look behind you and ensure no traffic is coming when changing lanes, slower vehicles on the road should always be the furthest to the right and you should always pass on the left, ride a safe distance from the curb or parked cars, never ride in the gutter, when the lane is too narrow to share safely, ride in the middle of the lane, when approaching an intersection always use the rightmost lane going in the direction you’re riding and always follow street signs, signals, and markings.

All those who attended received a Smart Cycling quick guide full of tips and safety information.

California law requires anyone under 18 to wear a helmet when riding a scooter, bicycling, skateboarding, or when using inline skates.

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