Making sense of the insurance coverage issues for cyclists
by Kris Thompson 11/03/2011
Thanks to Megan Hottman, "The Cyclist Lawyer" for providing this article! Hottman Law Office is a litigation and personal injury firm specializing in cyclists and athlete representation.
What cyclists need to know about homeowners, renters, auto and health insurance as it pertains to bicycles, cycling injuries, theft, and damage.
I had a "The Cyclist-Lawyer" booth set up at Veloswap last weekend, and the #1 topic people stopped by to discuss was insurance. Questions like “What happens if I don’t have auto or health insurance and I cause an accident or hit a pedestrian?” or “My bikes are really expensive, what’s the best way to insure them against theft or loss?” came up repeatedly. Two days after Veloswap, Kris at 303cycling sent me a link about “bicycle insurance,” asking my thoughts on it. So it seems, the topic is on your minds . . .
Below are some of the most common coverage issues we face as cyclists. Note: this discussion does not have anything to do with injuries or property damage resulting from a competitive event. This is a discussion about the cyclist out riding on public roads, for recreation or commuting purposes. I discussed these issues with my own insurance agent with regard to my own policies and you’ll see quotes from him below. Of course to be sure about your coverage, you’ll need to request a copy of your policy from your agent and read it carefully, as every insurance company is different in their claims-handling practices…
1. “What if I’m riding my bike and I hit a car, another cyclist, or a pedestrian. When I’m at fault, who covers their injuries and property damage, and who covers mine?”
If you are at fault in an accident involving another car, cyclist, or pedestrian, that person will seek recovery from you. Your auto insurance is not going to cover that person, because their injuries did not arise from your use of a motor vehicle. However your homeowners/renters insurance will cover their damages.
My agent says:
A homeowner or renters policy (review your liability section) will cover the compensatory damages for which any insured is legally liable because of bodily injury or property damage caused by an occurrence covered by the policy. Sporting activities such as riding a bike would be a covered occurrence, and therefore the policy would cover damage to the other party if you were liable.
As far as your own cycling equipment, there is not a covered peril listed on a homeowners policy that this would fall under, therefore your bike would not have coverage in this situation.
Your own personal injuries would not fall under a home or renters policy, but would be covered under your health insurance. A common rule with liability insurance is that you cannot be “liable to yourself.” Therefore, the medical coverage on a homeowner policy will not come into play for the insured –but it will cover the person you injured. So for your own bills, med pay (auto policy) or health insurance or potentially uninsured motorist coverage (auto policy) are the options.
[One other note, if you are riding professionally and getting paid at the time, that might be a sticking point - homeowners insurance would not cover the liability occurrence].
2. “What if my bike is stolen?” Does it matter where it is stolen from?
A homeowner or renters policy will cover it (after you pay your deductible). Note: high deductibles may result in you being better off just replacing the bike instead of filing an insurance claim. Review your deductibles relative to the value of your bikes. And some insurance companies will allow you to add a “rider” to your policy for specific items, like bikes (as you would for expensive jewelry or furs). Some will not.
My agent says:
Personal property coverage is not limited to the location of residents. If the bike is stolen at a different location it would be a covered loss.
3. “What if I drive my car under an awning (with bikes on top) or a deer runs out in front of my car –and my car and bikes are damaged?”
My agent says:
Homeowners or renters insurance will cover the driving under an awning while on top of the car. I also had a claim where the driver hit a deer, dented his car, and then the deer flew into the bikes on the back of the car doing damage to the bikes. The good news is that the damage was a covered peril on both the auto policy and homeowner’s policy; the bad news is the car’s comprehensive deductible was $1000, but the bikes that were damaged were covered under his homeowner’s policy which had a $2500 deductible. The deductible can be a tough pill to swallow in some cases. Generally renters have a smaller deductible than individuals with homeowner’s insurance- $500 instead of $1000 or more.
4. “What if someone hits me with their car while I’m riding my bicycle?” Who will cover my expenses?
Now – if you are hit or injured by someone else, their auto or homeowners/renters insurance will cover your medical expenses and property damage. If the person who hit you is un-insured, under-insured, or flees the scene, you may need to fall back on your own insurance, such as your auto policy’s UM/UIM coverage (stands for uninsured or underinsured coverage). UM/UIM coverage is frequently used when the car flees the scene (“hit and run”) because that ghost car is treated as an “un-insured motorist” by your insurance coverage.
My agent says:
Yes, a cyclist's auto UM/UIM coverage should cover them if they are struck by a car that flees (hit and run) even though the cyclist is on his bike, not in his car. If the cyclist has auto insurance, there is potential for the UM/UIM coverage to kick in. When I say potential, I mean it probably would cover the expenses, I just cannot think of a situation where it would not. I recently had an insured sitting on the porch of his apartment when a car lost control, and hit him on his porch. He is going to have coverage through his UM/UIM.
You can also turn to your auto policy “med pay” coverage for help with your medical expenses: Med pay coverage under your auto policy (assuming you did not waive it) covers a cyclist’s medical expenses if they are injured in an accident with another vehicle. But -if the cyclist was injured because of their carelessness or was involved in a “single bike accident”, it would not apply. And usually med pay is only $5000. Your homeowners/renters insurance will not cover your medical expenses, even if you were not at fault.
My agent says:
that is not the intent of the liability coverage. It is for instances where the insured is at fault for bodily injury or property damage to someone else.
A recent example of how the medical coverage on a homeowner’s policy is used was this. My insured had a graduation party with about 100 guests. One of the guests was a 13 year old boy who was horse playing in the front yard. While goofing off, he tripped and fell onto a sharp piece of landscape material that cut his knee deeply. He ended up with 25 stitches, and a $3000 emergency room bill. Since his family did not have medical insurance, they ask the homeowner throwing the party to help. So when they called me, we opened a claim on their homeowners insurance under the medical expense coverage. This coverage will be a quick payout for them up to $5000, for the insured does not have to be found liable for the injury before payment.
5. What if someone tries to hit me or run me off the road with their car, on purpose?
… This can be tricky because insurance does not cover “intentional bad acts.” Insurance covers “accidents.” In such cases, if the police are called, that driver is likely to be cited with criminal charges. Their insurance company will likely deny coverage if it was an intentional act and not an accident –so this is another scenario where your own auto UM/UIM coverage might kick in.
6. Let’s say you hit a cyclist or pedestrian with your car. Or someone gets hurt on your property. These injuries can come with huge medical bills, which may exceed your insurance policy limits. If someone’s damages are not covered by your insurance limits, they can come after you personally –your bank accounts and your assets could be at risk. “What is the best way to protect myself against someone who sues me because I caused them injury (cycling-related or otherwise)?”
Carry homeowners/renters insurance and auto insurance (assuming you own a car) AND consider adding an umbrella policy for additional coverage in the event you are seriously injured or worse, you seriously injure someone else. A $1 Million umbrella usually only costs $200-300/year when added to your policy. This gives you your policy limits on auto/home PLUS an additional $1Million in coverage. Most insurance companies require you have home and auto insurance (with the same company) before they will issue an umbrella.
My agent says:
The renters or homeowners insurance must be in force prior to the issuance of an umbrella. To be eligible you need: Fairly clean driving records, home and auto policies with liability limits of $300k on the home, and $250/$500k on the auto insurance, and generally the issuing company would like to see the underlying coverages with the same company.
*You can also add an Endorsement on the umbrella for UM/UIM – it does cost extra (my insurance adds $28/vehicle/year) which extends UM/UIM to policy limits plus $1Million –a very good thing to have as a cyclist for the reasons discussed above.
A final note: if you are sued by someone that you injured, and it is a case where your auto or homeowners/renter policy will be paying that injured party, your insurer will provide you an attorney and defend you. However if it is a case where your insurance company pays out the policy limits to the person you injured, and the injured party is still seeking more money above and beyond those limits, your insurance company’s attorney will likely withdraw once policy limits are paid, and you will be left defending yourself or hiring your own lawyer to defend your personal assets. This is another reason an umbrella policy can be helpful –it will extend the representation of your insurance company and their defense of you (because rest assured they will fight hard before they pay out a $1M umbrella!).
Kris asked: what’s the difference in renters vs homeowners coverage? Nothing as far as the cycling issues discussed above. The difference is that renters insurance covers the renter’s property inside the residence, but doesn’t insure the residence itself –whereas homeowners covers the property inside AND the structure itself (hence, the reason HO premiums are much higher than renters insurance).
One more thing to note: if your insurer issues a separate policy per vehicle in your household, you can STACK your coverage. So –say you are hit (while riding your bike) by a car and they flee. Say your UM/UIM per vehicle coverage is 100/300k. If you have 3 cars in the household, this will actually give you $300/900k in UM/UIM coverage.
Like I said at the beginning – every policy and insurance company is different, so these answers may not apply to your situation (this article is not legal advice). It is a good idea to review your policies or have a discussion with your agent about your cycling-related questions before something happens, rather than after.
(SA Wheelmen note: as mentioned above, please check with your own insurance company(s) to determine your level of coverage. Do not assume the information in this article will pertain to you.)
SEAN MALONEY had an ambitious plan: to be the first stroke survivor to bicycle from San Francisco to New York via a circuitous route that would take him down the West Coast and across Texas. It would be over 5,000 miles.
Mr. Maloney, 58, was once in line to be the chief executive of Intel, the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturer. But five years ago, he had a stroke that forced him to go through years of therapy to be able to talk and walk again.
He wanted to make the ride to increase the awareness of a relatively inexpensive ultrasound test that can determine a person’s risk for a stroke and also to raise $1 million for the American Heart Association.
“I want to bring attention to the potential benefit of ultrasound scans in your neck,” he said before the ride began in April. “If I had had an ultrasound, the doctors would have been able to do something about the blocked artery in my neck.”
There are thousands of these physical challenges for charity each year, from walks, runs and rides to more grueling or even silly events, most of them in the summer. The “ice bucket challenge” last summer, in which people challenged friends to dump ice over their heads or donate money to the ALS Association, stands out for its success, raising over $100 million for that group.
But as people receive requests to participate in or donate to one of these events this summer, how should they evaluate them? If they choose to participate, what will their effort mean to the cause? And if they sit on a nonprofit board and talk turns to emulating the ice bucket challenge, what should they consider?
Eileen Heisman, chief executive of the National Philanthropic Trust, which administers donor-advised funds, and a lecturer on philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania, said these challenges tapped into an American desire to help out.
“You’re not going to be part of the team that cures breast cancer, but you may be willing to walk 20 miles for the cause,” she said. “It’s the urge of Americans to want to try to solve something, even if you’re 20 steps away from it.”
Mr. Maloney is clearly connected to the cause. His experience also serves as a sobering reminder of the need to take high blood pressure seriously. He was fit and active, despite high blood pressure, before he nearly died from the stroke.
But when it comes to his ride, he has also been persuasive, which may be more important to the success of his cause. He marshaled decades of connections to get a list of tech luminaries, like Michael Dell, the founder of Dell Computer (now Dell Inc.), to cycle with him for parts of the ride.
“I hope to help Sean raise awareness for healthy living and heart disease and stroke prevention,” Mr. Dell said in an email. “Anything I can do to amplify it to my neighbors, friends and colleagues is time well spent.”
Yet despite more than a year of planning, the ride has not gone smoothly. On Day 15, while riding downhill at 35 miles an hour, Mr. Maloney crashed his bike outside Boulevard, Calif., and had to be airlifted to a hospital in San Diego, his pelvis fractured and several ribs broken. About a week after that, the volunteer driving the support van died in his sleep. And at the halfway point, the ride has brought in only $300,000 of its $1 million goal.
Is it all worth the time and effort for the money and awareness that events like this raise? Mr. Maloney thinks so, but for others contemplating something similar, there are caveats.
The hard numbers first. From a purely financial perspective, the time and energy people devote to these events can often be better spent, said Leo Arnoult, president of Arnoult & Associates, a fund-raising consulting firm and a past chairman of Giving USA, which releases an annual report on charity contributions.
The money that individuals contribute to these events is small compared with the money from a charity’s largest donors, who typically contribute 60 to 70 percent of what an organization raises in a year, he said.
But focusing on the dollars and cents can be shortsighted.
“You look at special events in the context of the broader fund-raising strategy of an organization,” Mr. Arnoult said. “They either help establish a new organization’s brand or reinforce an existing brand or, in the case of ALS, reintroduce the nonprofit’s brand. The ice bucket challenge took an organization that had gotten away from the national consciousness and put it back in the forefront.”
Individuals often help charities more by their physical presence: The charity can then ask corporations for bigger donations by showing them just how interested people are in their event.
“Those corporations see their customers running out there in these marathons,” Mr. Arnoult said. “These nonprofits are intentionally positioning themselves to get these outsized corporate sponsorships.”
Youth Villages, an organization that helps abused children, has an annual Soup Sunday event in Memphis that is a different type of contest — among chefs. But it reminds a couple of thousand people, who each pay $30 to taste soup, about the organization. And it brings people to downtown Memphis, which is good for big corporate sponsors and local merchants, Mr. Arnoult said.
Mr. Maloney has pulled in corporate donors. Tom Lacey, who once reported to him at Intel and is now chief executive of the semiconductor company Tessera Technologies, said his friend’s recovery inspired him to get involved.
“In the heat of the ALS ice bucket challenge, he decided he’d be the first stroke survivor to ride across America,” Mr. Lacey said.
When Mr. Maloney’s family worried about his safety, Mr. Lacey suggested one of his employees, David Fisch, an engineer who cycles 30 miles to work, ride with him. He then arranged a sabbatical for Mr. Fisch. Mr. Lacey is also the largest donor so far to Mr. Maloney’s ride.
But perhaps more to the ride’s broader mission, he offered ultrasound scans to Tessera employees to see if they were at risk. “One of our top guys has a 30 percent more narrow carotid artery,” he said. “With the scan, you find this out before it debilitates you.”
Many members of nonprofit boards — often an organization’s largest donors — have been interested in starting an ice bucket challenge of sorts for their organizations, Ms. Heisman said.
“There have been thousands of charities since last summer that have been working to create the next ice bucket challenge,” she said. “The chance of them being successful is next to zero. If someone had told you before last summer that people were going to dump ice over their head and raise money for a charity, you would have thought they were crazy.”
Board members need to consider the costs associated with these events. Ms. Heisman said it could take 50 to 70 cents to raise one dollar from a physical challenge, and often the people who participate do not stay involved with the organization. (A better ratio would be around 25 cents spent to raise a dollar, she said.)
Then there is the need for patience. It may take five years to build enough recognition for an event so that it is meaningful for a charity.
The ease with which the ice bucket challenge raised money is what makes it so appealing.
“If you want to walk in a breast cancer walk, you have to sign up, get people to give you money and then you have to show up on that day,” she said. “Here was something where you don’t have to show up on any given time, you don’t have to commit any amount of money, and you can go in your backyard with a glass of water.”
Mr. Maloney’s ride is the antithesis of that. Since returning to the route after his crash, Mr. Maloney, who is using a wheelchair during his recovery from the crash, has taken to using a three-wheel, hand-crank bike to ride a couple of miles a day around scheduled events. He isn’t allowed back on a bicycle for two months.
(In Mr. Maloney’s absence, Mr. Fisch has continued to cycle the route as planned, meet with people along the way and post videos.)
“Cycling down California, almost everyone I met had a heart attack or stroke victim in their family,” Mr. Maloney said. “It’s awful. Even from a wheelchair, I’m determined to get the word out.”
SAFE PASSING ORDINANCE The City of San Antonio has adopted a “Safe Passing” ordinance which sets a requirement of safe passing by motor vehicles for vulnerable road users. It establishes a duty of due care and the requirement of a motor vehicle operator not to interfere with vulnerable users' legal use of the road. Safe passing distance is defined as 3' for cars and 6' for commercial or large trucks that only applies when road conditions allow. Violation of the ordinance is punishable as a Class C misdemeanor and fine not to exceed $200.00. The ordinance provides the foundation for an education campaign of tolerance and acceptance for "active" forms of alternative transportation, which furthers the City's goals of promoting San Antonio as a Bicycle Friendly Community, as well as the enhancement of walkable streets and neighborhoods. City Ordinance does not allow bicycles to be ridden on sidewalks (except for law enforcement and emergency personnel) [City of San Antonio Ordinances Sec. 19-286]
The City of San Antonio has adopted a Bike Light Ordinance. This ordinance is the same as State of Texas law requirements which require a front white light, and rear red reflector or red rear light. Not complying with the ordinance is a Class C Misdemeanor punishable up to $200 fine.
Many of us have invested in the wristbands or other wearable devices that tell us how many steps we’ve taken, calories we’ve burned and other information. But an interesting new study that compared activity monitors found that while some are accurate when measuring step counts, others are way off. And few are more accurate than the convenient and inexpensive apps you can find on your cellphone.
What’s more, the researchers say, while many of us hope that these activity trackers may motivate us to become more active and healthier, none of them has proved able to persuade reluctant exercisers to start and stick with a workout routine.
The promise of these devices obviously relies heavily on their accuracy and ease of use. If the trackers tell us that we have moved more or less than we actually do, our responses may not be appropriate or ideal. If, for instance, the monitor says that we have burned more calories than we actually have that day, we may overeat and gain weight. If, alternatively, the monitor says that we have taken fewer steps in a day than we actually have, we may become discouraged, blame the device, throw it in a drawer and stop walking for exercise altogether.
Similarly, if a fitness monitor is difficult to program, requires frequent charging, feels uncomfortable or is pricey, many people who might benefit from more exercise will avoid buying or wearing the thing. As the authors of the new study point out, only about 1 to 2 percent of Americans currently own an activity monitor, and many stop using the device within a few months of buying it.
A majority of Americans own a smartphone, however, and recently, a number of apps have become available that promise to measure someone’s steps, calories and so on, much the way a wearable fitness tracker does, but at a lower cost and, presumably, with greater convenience.
The accuracy of these phone apps, however, has not been established, especially in comparison to the accuracy of the dedicated fitness trackers.
So for the new study, which was published this week in JAMA, researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine and the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia purchased three of the most popular wearable fitness trackers — the Fitbit Flex, the Nike Fuelband and the Jawbone UP24 — as well as a clunkier pedometer and several types of accelerometers, which are often used by scientists to track people’s physical activity.
They also looked at four fitness-tracking applications for iPhones and Android-based phones, including an iPhone application from Fitbit and the Moves application for both types of phones.
Ultimately they gathered 10 separate devices or apps that claim to track steps and otherwise monitor health and fitness.
Next they rounded up 14 game adult volunteers and loaded them up with the devices. Each volunteer was fitted with a pedometer, two accelerometers, several wristband monitors and, in each pocket, a cellphone, one of which ran three iPhone-based fitness-tracking apps and the other of which featured an Android phone running one tracking app.
The volunteers then began walking on treadmills set to a gentle 3 miles-per-hour pace. A researcher stood nearby and manually counted every step each volunteer took until that volunteer had finished first 500 and then, separately, another 1,500 steps.
Each volunteer completed two sessions of this step counting while wearing all of the devices.
Then the researchers compared the step counts that the devices had recorded against those objectively measured by the researcher (who was unlikely to have miscounted by more than a step or two).
The totals diverged considerably. The pedometer and the accelerometers were generally quite accurate, but one of the wristbands, the Fuelband, underreported the number of steps the volunteers had taken by more than 20 percent.
Others of the monitors were more accurate but, by and large, no more so than the smartphone apps, which cost much less and would likely be more convenient for many people.
The upshot, said Dr. Mitesh S. Patel, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania who oversaw the study, is that smartphones could offer “an easy, less expensive, but still accurate” means for people to track their activity.
But the broader issue, as Dr. Patel and his colleagues pointed out in a related commentary published recently in JAMA, is that no fitness tracker of any kind has yet proved able to motivate people disinclined to exercise to start moving. Pedometers, after all, are accurate and cheap. But their widespread availability has not led to any overall increase in how much people walk.
Dr. Patel said that he and his colleagues were currently testing different types of incentives and rewards that could be incorporated into next-generation fitness apps and trackers.
But for now, while it is comforting to know that our smartphones can correctly count our activity, they won’t work unless we take that first step on our own and move.
Related video: “Workout Test: Fitness Apps Vs. Trainer.”
From a New York Times article:
Many people with chronic health problems resign themselves to lives of modest activity or no activity at all, thinking vigorous exercise is unsafe or that they lack the stamina for it. But recent studies are proving just the opposite.
They are showing that high-intensity exercise may be even better than regular aerobic activities for many patients with conditions like heart disease, diabetes, stroke, pulmonary disease, arthritis and Parkinson’s disease.
The studies strongly suggest that a more demanding but more efficient and often more enjoyable form of exercise known as high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, is not only safe for most patients but more effective at preventing or reversing the deficits associated with many chronic ailments.
Although once reserved for athletes seeking a competitive advantage and for healthy people wanting to burn more body fat,HIIT is now being studied as a treatment that is sometimes as effective as medication for many people with chronic health problems.
Researchers have found that repeatedly pushing the body close to its exercise limits for very brief periods, interspersed with periods of rest, is more effective than continuous moderate activity at improving cardiovascular, respiratory, metabolic and mechanical functions.
Instead of continuous movement for 20 or more minutes, as is typical for exercise walkers, joggers and cyclists, HIIT usually involves 30 to 60 seconds of exercise near the peak of a person’s ability, followed by a comparable recovery period of easy activity, with the sequence repeated for a total of about 20 minutes three times a week.
“We know that exercise is good for people at risk of chronic disease, but people tend not to exercise,” said Jonathan P. Little, a specialist in exercise physiology at the University of British Columbia at Okanagan. Yet he and other researchers report that study participants find interval training more enjoyable than continuous aerobic exercise, making it more likely that people will continue it on their own.
Various activities can be adapted to interval training, including cycling, swimming, walking and jogging, especially on a machine like a stationary bike or treadmill. But HIIT is possible indoors and out, for example by alternating sprints with more moderate exercise.
The intensity is tailored to an individual’s starting ability. “The high-intensity component is set at 80 to 90 percent of the person’s maximum aerobic capacity,” Dr. Little said. Researchers commonly use exercise bikes and treadmills to adjust the pace mechanically.
However, high-intensity exercise, even just half a minute at a time, is not appropriate for everyone. In a recent report in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal, Dr. Little; his wife, Mary E. Jung, also at the University of British Columbia; and Marcus W. Kilpatrick of the University of South Florida wrote that HIIT “is only appropriate for low-risk individuals, moderate-risk individuals who have been cleared for vigorous intensities by a medical professional, and high-risk individuals who are under direct medical supervision during exercise training.”
Among the physiological benefits of HIIT are the body’s increased ability to use oxygen and insulin, as well as arteries that are more elastic than continuous moderate exercise can achieve.
“We’ve seen, for example, that interval training is remarkably effective at lowering glucose levels in people with diabetes,” Dr. Little said in an interview. “Just one session improves a person’s glucose level.”
A 12-week controlled study in Denmark of high-intensity interval walking for patients with Type 2 diabetes showed it helped control blood glucose levels better than continuous moderate exercise, even though the same number of calories was expended by both groups. Interval training also was more effective at enhancing the patients’ physical fitness and reducing body fat relative to lean muscle tissue.
By making blood vessels better able to expand, HIIT can improve the cardiovascular system’s ability to respond to added exertion. Oxygen-carrying blood can flow more smoothly through arteries that are wide open, which also reduces the risk of a vessel-blocking clot.
The body’s ability to use oxygen efficiently improves markedly “after as little as two weeks of training” with HIIT, the researchers wrote. Peak oxygen uptake — the amount of oxygen an individual can use during intense exercise — is considered the best indicator of cardiovascular fitness and an independent predictor of illness and death in cardiac patients.
“Too many people think incorrectly that high-intensity exercise is only for athletes, that it’s a heart attack waiting to happen,” Dr. Little said. On the contrary, the research strongly suggests, it is more likely to reduce the risk of a heart attack.
In a 2012 report reviewing the effects of HIIT in patients with coronary artery disease and heart failure, researchers in Canada, France and Switzerland wrote that “HIIT appears safe and better tolerated by patients than moderate-intensity continuous exercise” and more effective at increasing patients’ peak oxygen uptake, blood vessel flexibility and pumping ability of the heart.
Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are often unable to exercise long enough to gain needed health benefits. But they can do HIIT for long periods with less shortness of breath and leg discomfort, researchers at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens have reported.
Stroke patients with persistent disabilities can also benefit from HIIT. As rehabilitation specialists at the University of Cincinnati wrote this month in BioPortfolio, stroke patients with residual weakness “enter a vicious cycle of limited activity and deconditioning.” But while regular aerobic exercise can improve their function and cardiovascular health, preliminary studies, including one in Trondheim, Norway, suggest that patients do even better with HIIT. The Norwegian team reported that the improvements persisted for months after the six-week high-intensity exercise program ended.
And Polish researchers demonstrated that HIIT could alleviate the rigidity and excessive muscle tone that makes it difficult for Parkinson’s disease patients to move their arms and legs. The researchers, from the University School of Physical Education in Krakow, Poland, showed in 11 patients with mild to moderate Parkinson’s symptoms that eight weeks of HIIT, three times a week, on a stationary bike had a global benefit, improving both lower and upper body function.
Reductions in rigidity and stiffness correlated with an increase in a substance called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which the researchers suggested could have stimulated the growth and function of nerves normally influenced by dopamine, the neurotransmitter that declines in Parkinson’s disease.
Among the many things to consider when buying a bike are the following:
- What type of bike you want
- Your budget
- Fitting your bike
- Frame material(s)
- Other components
Types of bicycles range from the ridiculous to the sublime:
- Road bikes
- Mountain bikes (off road)
- Hybrid bikes (on/off road)
- Town bikes (city cruisers)
- Tandem bikes (built for two – or more)
- Recumbent bikes
- And a whole host of specialty racing bikes for time trials, triathlons, track racing, etc.
Let’s limit our consideration for now to road bikes and their variants. Cost can range from a few bucks for a used bike to a king’s ransom for an exotic or custom-built bike. There are great deals to be had on used bikes in the classified ads, eBay, Craig’s List, etc.
Caution – be sure you know what you’re looking for, and most importantly, make sure it fits you. Otherwise, even the best bargain can turn into a disaster!
You can find lots of nice bikes from well-known manufacturers these days for from less than $1000 to $2500… sometimes even less if you catch them on sale. If you have $3000 - $3500 to spare, you can buy pretty much all the bike you’ll ever reasonably need. If you have really deep pockets or just want something really special, you can easily part with $4000 - $10,000 or more.
This is one of those areas where logic doesn’t always prevail. Most serious cyclists at one point or the other buy equipment that far exceeds their capabilities as riders. But, hey… if you’ve got the money, why not go first class?
“To be truly happy as a cyclist, you should get a bike that’s fast and pretty”
-- John Cobb – Aerodynamics Guru
Fit. Just as a good realtor will tell you that the three most important factors in buying real estate are Location, Location, and Location, the three most important factors in buying a bike are Fit, Fit, and Fit.
Far too many good, expensive bikes end up as garage wall ornaments when their well-intentioned owners give up riding them because they don’t fit properly. Many bike shops are not really equipped (or not interested enough) to do a thorough job fitting their bikes, especially if a rider is outside the “average range” (between 5’ 2” and 6’ 2” with no medical or unusual physical considerations). Even shops with a fair knowledge of bike fitting aren’t usually interested in fitting a bike not purchased from them. (A notable exception in San Antonio is Joe Van Arsdall at Joe’s Pro Bikes, who is very conscientious about fitting bikes, whether he sells them to you or not. Expect to pay a fee for the fitting – but it’s worth it).
Critical elements in bicycle fitting include seat tube length (often referred to as frame size), top tube length, saddle height and position, stem length and angle, handlebar width and shape, shoe/pedal positioning, and (to a lesser extent) crank arm length and wheel diameter. Not all bikes follow the same rules as regards fitting – the road bike that provides comfort and efficiency for a long ride will seldom make the best time trial or triathlon configuration.
Homework: Do some research before you fall in love with a bike. Check out sites like the following to get an idea of how to take your own measurements:
Bicycle frame design has changed remarkably little in the last 100 years. Frame materials, however, have undergone significant changes in weight, strength, stiffness, aerodynamics, durability, and cost in fairly recent history.
Steel is the quintessential “old school” frame material. Pluses include durability, ease of repair, road feel (“steel is real”), and moderate cost. Minuses include weight and being prone to rust. You will still see some steel bikes around, but they are steadily slipping from the mainstream in favor of newer materials.
Aluminum is a light, stiff frame material that is economical and rust-free. Aluminum frames are reasonably durable, but don’t expect an aluminum frame to survive a serious crash, since repair of a bent frame is virtually impossible. There are many aluminum frames sold today in moderately priced bikes, and even some high-end aluminum bikes are still used by the pros.
Titanium was not so very long ago considered to be the ultimate material for bicycle frames, since it has most of the positive characteristics of steel and few of the negatives. The knock on titanium has always been its high cost to produce and fabricate. Its use has diminished somewhat (especially in the pro ranks), but there are still some nice ti frames around.
Carbon Fiber has become more or less the current material of choice for bike frames in the last few years. Because carbon is super light, stiff yet compliant, and able to be fabricated in an almost limitless array of shapes and sizes, most pro teams choose it for their racing bikes. Even the most ardent manufacturers of traditional metal frames now have carbon bikes in their product lines because of public demand. Many modern bike frames are an amalgam of carbon and metal parts, hoping to exploit the benefits of each material. It should be noted that carbon isn’t perfect, however. Although relatively durable, carbon has been known to break under sometimes mysterious conditions of material fatigue, and in a serious crash it doesn’t bend, it pretty much disintegrates.
Other components include, but are not limited to the following:
- Crank sets and cog sets
- Shifters, brakes, and derailleurs
Wheels are usually something you have little choice about when you purchase a new bike since they are part of the package. If you do have the option, or if you’re looking to upgrade your current bike, there are precious few things that will make more difference in a bicycle’s performance than a really good set of wheels. Weight, durability, and aerodynamics are primary factors.
Homework: Check out web sites such as the following to learn more about wheels:
Crank sets and cog sets used to be something nobody really thought about. They were just two round things with teeth (crank wheels) that the pedals were attached to and that connected the chain to a bunch of round things with teeth (cogs) on the back wheel. The crank set almost always had the “standard” number of teeth (39/53) and crank arm length (17.25 cm), and the cog set had either 9 or 10 cog wheels with a mysterious number of teeth, and that was that. Then road bike riding became more popular, and more and more folks who had trouble climbing hills (who doesn’t?) started wondering if technological change could help make that odious task easier. The result…
Triple chain rings, a mainstay of mountain bikes, began appearing on road bicycles. They were (and still are) very effective, but added weight, had a lot of redundant gear combinations, and definitely detracted from the “cool factor” of road cycling (after all, you never saw Lance Armstrong riding a “triple”).
Compact crank sets enjoyed a rebirth with roadies. They were usually even lighter than the old double cranks, allowed for more efficient gearing, and how much cooler could you be than Tyler Hamilton winning a stage of the Tour with a compact (well, before he was caught doping anyway)
If you have a choice in the matter (and you often do nowadays) it will pay big dividends to figure out whether one of these drive train options is right for your new bicycle.
Technically, the appropriate crank arm length is not only a function leg length, but also depends on the ratio of the two primary leg bones and foot size. In the practical sense, crank arm length is usually factored into the size of the bike frame. Sizes range from 140mm to 185mm, depending largely on your height. If you are considering getting a special crank set, however, also consider the type of pedaling you will normally do (spinning at a high cadence is more efficient with a shorter crank arm, whereas pedaling a time trial or tri bike usually calls for a longer crank arm).
Homework: Count the number of teeth on each of the cranks and each of the cogs on whatever bike you’re riding now. Divide the number of crank wheel teeth by the number of cog teeth for each combination and multiply each of the numbers you derive by 27. This will give you a group of index numbers called gear-inches. The lower numbers will be your climbing gear combinations and the higher numbers will be your speed gear combinations. As you practice climbing, descending, and riding on flat roads, keep track of the gears you use, and if you need some help in any of these areas that training won’t completely solve, you may want to look at a different cog set or crank set or both.
Shifters, back in the old days used to be simple levers located on either side of the down tube, which controlled the front and rear derailleurs. Nowadays, they are remarkable, ergonomically designed sets of shifting/braking devices conveniently located on the handlebars. There are currently three major manufacturers which make quality shifters at multiple price points:
Shimano currently has most of the component market. Their products are ergonomic and easy to use, but are not always compatible throughout the price range options and are not, for all practical purposes, rebuildable.
Campagnolo invented the derailleur technology and has been around the longest. Their products are solid, reliable, repairable, and have all that Italian panache.
Sram is the new kid on the road bike block, but has a history of great mountain bike component manufacture. They have an innovative shifting process and design that in many ways captures the best of both their competitors’ products.
Saddles and Pedals are the main points of contact between you and your bike, and are therefore a large part of the key to comfort, speed, and efficiency. Choosing the right saddle or pedal system is a highly personal and subjective matter. Your choice of pedals, moreover, will often dictate which type of cycling shoe is right for you. A few general rules:
Saddle weight helps, but not at the expense of comfort. Try out as many types of saddle as you can. Don’t be fooled by looks. For many folks the crazy-light minimalist saddle can be the most comfortable, and the cushiest looking and feeling saddle can end up being agony on a long ride.
Many medical reports about saddles are grossly overstated. That politically and medically correct saddle with the middle part missing may end up not supporting you at the right points and putting pressure on your sensitive parts.
Pedals and shoes need to be fit just like the rest of the bike. Unequal leg lengths, leg and foot bone structures, and pedaling motions can make the difference between a comfortable, efficient ride and a painful one if not taken into account when setting up your pedal cleats.
Homework: Check out the following sites:
It is exciting to see more cyclists on the road in the San Antonio area, but increasing numbers of bicycles on the road means we need to work at sharing the road safely with motor vehicles and bicycles. So I thought this would be a good time to refresh and highlight some safety items that can be helpful to everyone. You often hear people say that bicycles are legal vehicles and bicyclists should obey the rules of the road. But what exactly does that mean?
First, bicycles ARE legal vehicles in Texas and all of the other states and riders should obey all traffic rules just as if they were driving a car. That includes riding in the same direction as the flow of traffic, stopping at all stop signs and red lights, not riding on sidewalks, etc. But it should not stop there. As cyclists we should give directional (turn) signals, not only for the benefit of motor vehicles but also for other cyclists. Letting others know where we are and where we intend to go is the courteous thing to do and can also prevent accidents. An example is calling out “on your left” as you are about to pass another cyclist. Other considerations in group riding, especially if you are in a large group, include calling out obstacles in and around the road like gravel, potholes, etc. A very important call-out is “car back” and “car up,” which keeps other riders in the group informed about possible traffic conflicts. Other helpful call-outs are letting others know that you are slowing down or coming to a stop. And, when you do that, pulling over to the far right will allow other cyclists to pass safely without swerving into oncoming traffic. Also, never block the traffic lane when you stop.
There are enough issues between vehicles and cyclists that we need to, at the very least, be more courteous to motor vehicle operators and cyclists. One sore point for vehicle drivers and other cyclists is when a group is riding two or more abreast. While many Texas roads are perfect for riding side-by-side, when other cyclists and vehicles come up behind us, we should show some common courtesy and go single file. State law says we can ride two-abreast only if we do not obstruct traffic. We expect motorists to pass with at least three feet clearance, and we need to cooperate by staying to the right side of the road. However, the law allows you move to the left to avoid obstacles and debris – just make sure it is safe to do so before moving to the left. Sharing the road is a matter of common sense for motorists and cyclists.
One of the challenges of being aware of what is going on around and behind you is to learn to turn your head without turning your bike. As we have all experienced, where you look is generally where your bike goes. To prevent your bike from swerving requires a little practice, especially for those who are new to cycling. If you are uncomfortable looking behind, it may be better to invest in a mirror. You can see the SA Wheelmen helmet mirror on our website, , under Merchandise. And please, keep yourself and others safe by not wearing headphones, iPods, etc. You cannot adequately hear what is going on around you if you are listening to music. Enjoy the sights and sounds that a great ride can bring! Just be safe while enjoying your ride.
All bike riders are exposed to long hours in the sun, often when the sun’s rays are at their worst, so it’s vitally important that you protect yourself with the best type of sunscreen. Just last week, after 33 years of review (or maybe inaction is a better word), the FDA finally issued new rules that should help reduce the confusion as you stroll down the aisle trying to decide which sunscreen to select. This FDA guidance is particularly welcome, since the incidence of melanoma, the deadliest of skin cancers, has doubled since sunscreens became popular.
Currently, the FDA only requires testing for protection against UVB rays (which cause burning and skin cancer and is what SPF ratings are based on) and not UVA rays (which cause skin cancer and wrinkling). So, while SPF ratings indicate a sunscreen’s effectiveness against UVB rays, there is no numerical rating for a sunscreen’s effectiveness against UVA rays. Sunscreens currently on the market will often say they are “broad spectrum,” meaning they protect against both UVA and UVB rays, but they don’t have to prove their product effectiveness against UVA rays. Under the new rules, which go into effect in 2012, manufacturers will have to show how well their products protect against UVA and UVB rays.
Also, the FDA is considering capping SPF ratings at 50 since there is no evidence higher numbers offer more protection. Additionally, terms like “waterproof” and “sweatproof” will no longer be used because they are “exaggerations.”
Dermatologists suggest using products labeled “broad spectrum,” (under the new rules this will carry more meaning) with an SPF of 30 to 50. And the norm is to apply sunscreen before exposure and reapply every 2 hours thereafter.
This advice seems pretty simple and straightforward; however, this is where things get much more interesting and confusing. There is some concern, based on animal studies, that certain chemical ingredients in sunscreens may cause health problems. In a May 30, 2011 article in the San Antonio Express-News, Drs. Michael Roizen and Mehmut Oz, said some researchers raised red flags about two sunscreen ingredients: oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate. Oxybenzone, which is found in most popular sunscreens, may disrupt natural hormones. Retinyl palmitate (a kind of topical vitamin A) has triggered genetic mutations when exposed to sunlight in the lab. In other words, they might have a cancer connection, according to the two doctors.
On the other hand, the FDA, which is currently reviewing the safety of sunscreen ingredients (let’s hope they don’t take another 33 years to release their findings) says it “does not have any reason to believe these products are not safe for consumer use.” The skeptic in me says, of course they don’t have any reason to believe the ingredients are unsafe, they are still reviewing them. The bottom line on these two potentially harmful ingredients is that the research is ongoing and still unclear, so the jury is out.
Finally, let’s return to UVA rays. There is a good numerical measurement to indicate which sunscreens are effective against UVB rays (an SPF of 30 to 50), but what about UVA protection? What you have to look for are so-called UVA blockers, of which there are several, but the most common is zinc oxide, which the literature says provides the most complete UVA/UVB protection and is considered safe. However, if you look at the back at almost all popular sunscreens, you won’t find zinc oxide as an ingredient. One reason for this is that zinc oxide, when applied, leaves a white residue so you look like a kabuki doll (remember those lifeguards with the blob of white on their noses?), though rubbing it in thoroughly helps. But the kabuki look makes these sunscreens pretty unpopular. However, Drs. Rozien and Oz recommend that you “scour the ingredients list looking for UVA blockers such as zinc oxide, titanium dioxide….”. If you are interested in reviewing sunscreens containing zinc oxide, and containing natural ingredients as opposed to chemical ingredients, such as oxybenzone found in most popular sunscreens, one website you can check out is the Environmental Working Group’s—www.ewg.org/2011sunscreen for a list of sunscreens they recommend.
The best conclusion to draw from the still confusing decision as to what sunscreen to choose is that the proven benefits of any sunscreen outweigh any potential risks. You have to decide whether the concern some researchers have raised about oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate should be considered in choosing a sunscreen and whether you should consider a sunscreen containing zinc oxide, which is a proven and effective UVA blocker.
You are having a great day on the road enjoying the weather, scenery and companionship of other riders when you see a bike rider sitting on the ground on the side of the road. You have several choices of action here: (a) say “hello” and ride on; (b) say “are you OK” and ride on; or (c) stop to see if the rider needs help. Too often riders opt for choice (a) or (b). The proper choice is obviously (c). It will only take a few seconds to stop and if the rider is just enjoying the scenery and you can continue your ride. However, you will be doing a great service if the rider does have a problem. With the hot weather this summer, riders are bonking at a higher than normal rate. We obviously don’t want to leave someone who has had an accident or a health problem sitting on the roadside.
If the rider does have a problem ask a few questions to see what type of help is required. Perhaps another rider has gone back to get a vehicle and pick them up. In that case, it would be a good idea to stay with them until the help arrives. If they are riding alone, volunteer to come back and pick them up, but have someone stay with them if you are not riding alone. If the individual is injured or has a serious health problem you may have to call “911” to get an ambulance. Don’t take a chance – someone suffering from heat exhaustion or a head injury may say they are OK when they are not. A few questions and a short period of observation should reveal how serious their problem is.
Let’s watch out for each other. You could be the one of the side of the road in need of help.
At this time of the year, it’s tempting to store your bike in the garage until spring. I know it is challenging to ride when it is cold and windy, but stop to think about the consequences that may result from a long layoff from riding. Many of us are familiar with the weight gain and loss of conditioning that can occur when we don’t exercise during the winter. To help keep you in the swing of things, the Wheelmen ride team has a full schedule of rides every weekend during the winter. With proper preparation, you can take advantage of these winter rides to stay in shape for the nicer weather in the spring.
The first challenge is to make sure you dress for the occasion. The secret to riding in cold weather is to layer clothing based on the outside temperature. With layers, you can remove items if you start to get too warm from exertion or the weather gets warmer during the ride. Start with a long-sleeve, wicking, base layer to cover your torso. Add a long-sleeve jersey, and if it is very cold and/or windy (especially a cold north wind) add a vest or wind jacket (never use a cotton sweat shirt in cold weather as it will absorb sweat and lose any insulating properties). For your legs, you may be able to get by with shorts and leg warmers, but long riding pants will feel much better on a really cold and windy day. If the temperature is around 50 degrees and the wind is not strong, you might get by with a short-sleeve base layer, a regular jersey plus arm warmers. While long pants will probably still be comfortable, you can wear shorts and leg warmers. Full-finger gloves or regular gloves with liners will help keep your fingers warm. Wear wool socks and toe warmers to keep your feet toasty. Also, don’t forget to cover your ears on cold days. One other consideration is not to overdress. If you are warm and comfortable when the ride starts you are probably going to get hot and uncomfortable during the ride. However; if you remembered to dress in layers, you can remove a layer to get back to a comfortable state.
Winter riding still requires some of the other things you do in warm weather riding. For example, while you may not feel as thirsty as on a warm day, you still need to hydrate. Be sure to drink frequently, as you will still sweat (and lose liquids) as you warm up. Use sunscreen even if the day is cloudy. Cooler temps and the lack of a bright sun may lull you into believing you are ok, but the threat of skin damage is still there.
Cold weather riding only takes a couple of miles to get warmed up and you will have a great feeling of accomplishment when the ride is over. Think of winter rides as creating the opportunity to eat dessert without feeling guilty! So, dig out the long pants and shirts, find your full-finger gloves, and join the hearty souls who ride all winter.
From a New York Times article:
Active older people resemble much younger people physiologically, according to a new study of the effects of exercise on aging. The findings suggest that many of our expectations about the inevitability of physical decline with advancing years may be incorrect and that how we age is, to a large degree, up to us.
Aging remains a surprisingly mysterious process. A wealth of past scientific research has shown that many bodily and cellular processes change in undesirable ways as we grow older. But science has not been able to establish definitively whether such changes result primarily from the passage of time — in which case they are inevitable for anyone with birthdays — or result at least in part from lifestyle, meaning that they are mutable.
This conundrum is particularly true in terms of inactivity. Older people tend to be quite sedentary nowadays, and being sedentary affects health, making it difficult to separate the effects of not moving from those of getting older.
In the new study, which was published this week in The Journal of Physiology, scientists at King’s College London and the University of Birmingham in England decided to use a different approach.
They removed inactivity as a factor in their study of aging by looking at the health of older people who move quite a bit.
“We wanted to understand what happens to the functioning of our bodies as we get older if we take the best-case scenario,” said Stephen Harridge, senior author of the study and director of the Centre of Human and Aerospace Physiological Sciences at King’s College London.
To accomplish that goal, the scientists recruited 85 men and 41 women aged between 55 and 79 who bicycle regularly. The volunteers were all serious recreational riders but not competitive athletes. The men had to be able to ride at least 62 miles in six and a half hours and the women 37 miles in five and a half hours, benchmarks typical of a high degree of fitness in older people.
The scientists then ran each volunteer through a large array of physical and cognitive tests. The scientists determined each cyclist’s endurance capacity, muscular mass and strength, pedaling power, metabolic health, balance, memory function, bone density and reflexes. They also had the volunteers complete the so-called Timed Up and Go test, during which someone stands up from a chair without using his or her arms, briskly walks about 10 feet, turns, walks back and sits down again.
The researchers compared the results of cyclists in the study against each other and also against standard benchmarks of supposedly normal aging. If a particular test’s numbers were similar among the cyclists of all ages, the researchers considered, then that measure would seem to be more dependent on activity than on age.
As it turned out, the cyclists did not show their age. On almost all measures, their physical functioning remained fairly stable across the decades and was much closer to that of young adults than of people their age. As a group, even the oldest cyclists had younger people’s levels of balance, reflexes, metabolic health and memory ability.
And their Timed Up and Go results were exemplary. Many older people require at least 7 seconds to complete the task, with those requiring 9 or 10 seconds considered to be on the cusp of frailty, Dr. Harridge said. But even the oldest cyclists in this study averaged barely 5 seconds for the walk, which is “well within the norm reported for healthy young adults,” the study authors write.
Some aspects of aging did, however, prove to be ineluctable. The oldest cyclists had less muscular power and mass than those in their 50s and early 60s and considerably lower overall aerobic capacities. Age does seem to reduce our endurance and strength to some extent, Dr. Harridge said, even if we exercise.
But even so, both of those measures were higher among the oldest cyclists than would be considered average among people aged 70 or above.
All in all, the numbers suggest that aging is simply different in the active.
“If you gave this dataset to a clinician and asked him to predict the age” of one of the cyclists based on his or her test results, Dr. Harridge said, “it would be impossible.” On paper, they all look young.
Of course, this study is based on a single snapshot of an unusual group of older adults, Dr. Harridge said. He and his colleagues plan to retest their volunteers in five and 10 years, which will provide better information about the ongoing effects of exercise on aging.
But even in advance of those results, said Dr. Harridge, himself almost 50 and an avid cyclist, this study shows that “being physically active makes your body function on the inside more like a young person’s.”
- Helmet (approved type and properly fitted)
- Water bottles and cages or Camelbak-type hydration system
- Tire pump or CO2 cartridges
- Detailed map of the area
- Cycling (padded) gloves, padded bike shorts
- Spare tubes, patch kit, and tire levers
- Identification, emergency contact numbers and change for a phone call or a cell phone (do NOT use while riding)
- Energy bars or similar energy replacement food
- Sunscreen & lip screen
- Basic tools specific to your bike (if on a long or self-sufficient trip)
- U-Lock (if you are stopping for long periods other than just a rest stop)
- Lights & reflectors if you plan any night riding.
- Compact first-aid kit for long trips.
- Check that your front wheel quick release or axle nuts are tight.
- Squeeze the front brake lever and check that the brake pads align squarely on the rim. Lock the front brake and pull the bike back, the wheel should skid. Also check the brake cable for cuts or kinks.
- Pick up the front of the bike and spin the front wheel. Check if the wheel wobbles from side to side. Check the tire wear and brake pad clearance from the rim. If you have fenders or a handlebar bag, make sure these do not rub on the tire.
- Apply the front brake and try to rock the front wheel back and forth. If you feel any play, your headset might be loose and will need adjustment.
- Repeat steps 1 through 3 for the rear of the bicycle.
- Grab the crank arms and try to push them in and out to check the crank arms and bearings for looseness. There should be no lateral play in the crank axle. Also check that the pedals are screwed in all the way, flat against the crank arm.
- With the rear wheel off the ground, turn the pedals and shift through the gears. Make sure the derailleur can reach all your chainring combinations and does not throw the chain off the front or back sprockets. You may need to make a cable adjustment or adjust the derailleur screws.
- Try hard to twist the saddle up and down, and left and right. If it does not move, it is secure.
- Do the same to your handlebars, bracing the front wheel between your knees. Put all your weight on the handlebars when twisting up and down to make certain they will not slip in an emergency stop.
- Check other attachments, nuts and bolts to make sure nothing is loose or might rub against your tires.
- Check your tire pressure with a gauge. Keep your tires pumped up to the recommended pressure marked on the tire.
- Avoid busy roads. Use lesser traveled residential streets whenever possible; take some extra time and enjoy the ride!
- Be very careful when turning left, especially if there is a lot of traffic in either direction. On very busy roads, it is sometimes better to pull over to the right, dismount and walk across when the way is safe.
- Watch for turning automobiles. A vehicle turning left across your path may not see you. Be prepared to stop.
- A vehicle slowing to turn right should never be passed on the right. After checking traffic behind you and signaling, you may pass on the left.
- Never pass a bus on the right as you may collide with passengers getting off the bus.
- When riding near parked cars, be aware that car doors can suddenly open in front of you. Ride far enough away from parked cars that an open door won't be a problem.
- When riding on a two-lane road, be aware of traffic backing-up behind you and allow it to pass whenever possible.
- Be considerate to right-turning motorists when stopped at an intersection by leaving them room to make their turn, especially if it is permitted to make a right turn on red.
- Let pedestrians and other cyclists know you are passing them with an audible warning before you pass. If a conflict arises, pedestrians have the right-of-way.
- Try to select your lowest practical gear so that your legs can spin smoothly while maintaining pressure on your pedals. This will reduce strain on your knees.
- ALWAYS cross railroad tracks at a perpendicular.
- Never ride through puddles of water as it may be a deep pot hole.
- On narrow roads without a shoulder, ride 14 to 24 inches from the edge of the pavement to help prevent cars from wanting to pass you without sufficient clearance.
- Never use your brakes on road sand or silt and always avoid rocks.
- Do NOT use headphones (iPods, etc.) on the bike.