Seattle weather is just beginning to feel like spring. March has arrived and many Washington residents are starting to resume outdoor activities. While many commuters rely on their bike year-round, bicycling increases quite a bit once temperatures rise.
Biking is healthy and enjoyable, but there is always the possibility of injury. Before dusting off your trusty set of wheels, it's crucial to prepare in advance.
If your bicycle has sat in your garage all season, it may need a quick tune-up. Check your tire pressure, which can decrease or rise with changing temperatures. Test your brakes at home before riding to make sure that you could be able to stop quickly in an emergency. It also doesn't hurt to make sure no bolts or parts are too loose.
Before your first ride of the spring, take a moment to review road safety and laws. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration has compiled guidelines for staying safe while biking. Cyclists should be aware of the people and vehicles around them. When possible, stay in designated bike lanes. Slow down before crossing streets and only enter controlled intersections when the light allows pedestrians to use the crosswalk.
Unfortunately, many drivers don't expect cyclists to be on the road. They may fail to look for bikes or drive too closely to them. Bicycles do not offer the same layer of protection as cars can, so bike accidents are often much more perilous than the average fender-bender.
This spring, bike owners should recognize how taking a few precautions can make the difference between life, injury and death. Parents can also encourage their children to wear helmets and learn the rules of the road.