A bicyclist traveling in the summertime may be rusty from months of other activities than riding. Bike safety is not always something we think of when we dust off our bikes for the sunny summers of California. But bike safety should be number one on the to-do list for you and your family, with so many motor vehicles on the road and all the potholes from recent downpours.
Staying in designated bike lanes, obeying street signs, wearing reflective gear, and riding in the same direction as the flow of traffic is something we all do to bike safely. But when riding a bicycle in Los Angeles during the summer, it’s important to do more to prioritize safety and take other necessary precautions to keep other cyclists and yourself safe. This comprehensive list with explanations can help ensure an enjoyable and secure experience as they travel on bicycles.
Here are some summer bike safety tips for Los Angeles riding:
Plan Your Routes
Familiarize yourself with Los Angeles bike lanes, bike paths, and safer routes. Choose routes with less traffic and better cycling infrastructure to minimize the risk of accidents. Taking safety precautions like this and even checking the weather on your iPhone can help keep you and many cyclists safe.
Avoid peak hours
We encourage you to plan your rides during less congested times of the day to minimize interactions with heavy traffic.
Skin cancer and not just broken bones is a risk that comes with summer riding in CA. Wear lightweight, high-visibility clothing designed to protect your knees, calves, and back of your neck. Most experts say you should wear breathable clothing that allows air circulation to keep you cool and remain visible in dim light or no light. The main way to increase safety in the summer, especially at night, is by wearing bright clothing and reflective clothing to enhance your visibility to motorists and reduce deaths. Carry items like clothes for rain or other hazards like snakes. Bicyclists would be smart to carry a first aid kit in their backpacks if you or any friends get hurt or crash.
Wear a Fitted Bike Helmet
When you wear a helmet, your decrease the risks of becoming a brain-injured bicyclist, so do it! Although it’s only the law for children, you should still do it, always keeping the side straps adjusted to form a snug “V” shape. This is a tenet of bike riding safety on any roadway. Always wear a properly fitting helmet to protect your head in case of a fall or accident. It’s a crucial safety measure that can prevent serious head injuries if struck by motorized vehicles, falling, flying, or fixed object. It ok to go with off-brand manufacturers if it’s a good helmet.
Stay Properly Hydrated For the Bike Ride
Never underestimate the sun’s power, even through the layers of shady clouds. Los Angeles can have hot temperatures during the summer, so staying hydrated is essential to bicycle safety. Carry a water bottle and drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after your ride. This is one of the best ways to avoid dehydration while enjoying the sunshine.
Use Proper Sunscreen
Apply sunscreen to exposed skin, even on cloudy days, to protect yourself from harmful UV rays. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF and reapply it as needed during long rides.
Protect Your Eyes
You heard right. Blue light, in particular, can do great eye damage. It’s worth it to get a recommendation on great riding glasses that can also deflect bugs and debris that could temporarily blind you or place you in danger.
Be Vigilant and Aware
Stay alert during the summer months, especially at the crosswalk, and anywhere you see kids. Always look over your shoulder and use hand signals. Watch out for other road users in the community as you ride, including pedestrians, big rig trucks, other motorists, and fellow cyclists. Assume there will be kids walking dogs, or playing ball near the street, so search high in your riding view as you approach and pass. Wave at others if you think it will keep people safe. Invest some time in being polite to avoid running into dangers and becoming a Youtube star. Revisit this article to layer on these tips to enjoy the benefits of these tips fully.
Anticipate potential hazards and be prepared to react quickly. Be cautious at intersections and check for blind spots before changing lanes. Watch driveways closely for cars reversing out! Maintain a safe distance from parked cars to avoid opening doors and be cautious of drivers making sudden maneuvers.
In other words, don’t be that guy, don’t wear headphones, or talk on a cell phone. Remember, safety should always be a priority when riding a bicycle. By following these tips, you can have a safer and more enjoyable biking experience in Los Angeles during the summer.
Follow Traffic Rules
Some rules of the road, like obeying the speed limit, are common sense if bicyclists want to stay safe and have fun. Don’t get drunk or smoke weed and horse around next to cars or other vehicles. Obey street signs, road markings, and other traffic laws and signals, just like any other vehicle on the road. Signal your turns, yield to pedestrians (Bicyclists must obey the same rules regarding pedestrian signals), at stop completely at stop signs. Be predictable in your movements to ensure your safety and that of others around you, especially cars backing out in crowded parking lots.
Don’t assume another driver or rider will obey these responsibilities. Stay vigilant to avoid serious injury or death before making your destination. Remember that sidewalk riding is only legal in some areas of Los Angeles County, for example. Don’t forget that wearing helmets is part and parcel of safe cycling. If you still did all these things and were injured, call our legal representatives for a free consultation at (213) 596-9642. Remember, bicyclists generally have the same rights and duties as car drivers. So don’t dilly-dally around!
Maintain and Inspect your Bicycle
Regularly inspect your bike, including the brakes, tires, and lights, to ensure they are in good working condition. Proper maintenance reduces the risk of mechanical failures while riding.
Don’t forget to check other areas for potential issues. Spin the pedals and crank, and turn the bar to check for gritty or sloppy bearings. Also, check for loose components or parts throughout the bike. Things like loose fenders or rack bolts are easily overlooked but can quickly ruin a ride.
Prepping Your Bike
Prepping your bike before hitting the road or trails is essential for a smooth and safe riding experience.
Whether your bike has been stored in the basement, garage, or on an indoor trainer, these tips will help ensure your bike is in excellent condition:
Clean your Bike
Start by giving your bike a thorough cleaning. Use a gentle detergent and water to remove dirt, grime, and any residue. Pay attention to hard-to-reach areas like the drivetrain, cassette, and chainrings. A clean bike looks great and helps prevent premature wear and tear.
Inspect the frame
Check your bike’s frame for any signs of damage, such as cracks or dents. Look closely at the joints, welds, and areas susceptible to stress. If you notice any structural issues, it’s crucial to have them addressed by a professional bike mechanic.
Check the Bike Tires
Inspect your tires for wear, cuts, or punctures. Ensure they are properly inflated to the recommended pressure. Replace worn-out tires and tubes to prevent potential flats while riding the roads.
Check Tubeless Sealant
Tubeless sealant is designed to seal punctures and maintain the airtight seal in tubeless tires. However, the sealant can dry up or coagulate over time, reducing its effectiveness. It’s a good practice to check your tubeless sealant periodically, especially if your wheels have been sitting unused for an extended period.
One way to check the sealant level is by giving the wheels a shake and listening for fluid sloshing around inside the tire. If you hear fluid moving, it indicates that the sealant is still present and in a liquid state.
Another method involves using a zip tie as a dipstick. With the valve core removed, insert a zip tie into the valve stem and push it down until you reach the bottom of the tire. Slowly pull it out, and if the zip tie comes out coated with sealant, it means you still have sufficient sealant in the tire. If the zip tie comes out dry or with only a small amount of sealant, it’s time to add more.
Wheels play a crucial role in your bike’s performance and safety.
Here are some additional tips specifically focusing on wheel maintenance and inspection:
- Check wheel trueness: Spin each wheel and visually inspect them for any significant side-to-side movement or hops at the rim. A true wheel should spin smoothly without wobbling. You may need wheel truing by a bike mechanic.
- Check spoke tension: Pluck each spoke gently with your fingers to feel for any loose or overly tight ones. Loose spokes can affect wheel stability and strength, while overly tight spokes can cause stress and potential damage. Consider having the wheel trued and the spokes properly adjusted if you notice any loose or uneven tension.
- Inspect the rims: Examine the rim’s surface for any signs of wear, dents, or cracks. Small dents or imperfections may not affect the wheel’s performance, but larger damage can compromise its structural integrity. Get them fixed if so.
- Check hub bearings: Spin each wheel while holding onto the axle and feel for any rough or gritty sensations. Smooth spinning indicates well-lubricated and properly adjusted hub bearings, while a crunchy or rough feeling may suggest the need for cleaning, lubrication, or bearing replacement. If you’re unsure or uncomfortable with hub maintenance, seek assistance from a bike shop.
- Examine quick-release skewers or thru-axles: Ensure that quick-release skewers or thru-axles are properly tightened and secure. They should provide sufficient clamping force to attach the wheels to the frame securely. If you have thru-axles, make sure they are tightened to the manufacturer’s specifications.
Perform a Bolt Check
Carefully examine all bolts and fasteners on your bike, including those on the stem, handlebars, seat posts, and pedals. Ensure they are tightened to the appropriate torque specifications. Loose bolts can lead to safety hazards and affect your bike’s performance.
Test the Brakes
Check the brake pads for wear and alignment. Squeeze the brake levers to ensure they engage smoothly and provide sufficient stopping power. If the brake pads or disc brakes are worn, or the braking feels inadequate, replace or adjust them.
Cables and Housing
Inspect the brake and derailleur cables and housing. Look for cracked housing or strands of housing pulling through the end caps. Also, check for frayed cables and that cables have end caps. Believe it or not, a simple once-over could avoid fatalities.
Evaluate the Drivetrain and Suspension
Inspect the chain, cassette, and chainrings for wear. A worn-out drivetrain can negatively affect shifting and efficiency. Make sure lights and reflectors are working. Consider replacing these components if necessary. If your bike is equipped with suspension components, inspecting and maintaining them for optimal performance properly is important.
Lubricate the chain
Apply lubricant to your bike’s chain to ensure smooth and efficient shifting. Use a bike-specific lubricant and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Wipe off any excess oil to prevent dirt buildup.
Test the gears
To ensure smooth and accurate shifting on your bike, it’s essential to adjust the gears properly. Here’s how you can do it:
- Start by shifting through all the gears: Begin with the smallest chainring in the front and the largest cog in the rear, then gradually shift through each gear combination. Pay attention to how the chain moves between the chainrings and cogs.
- Check for smooth and accurate shifting: As you shift, ensure that the chain moves smoothly from one gear to another without hesitation or skipping. The shifting should be precise, with the chain moving onto each cog or chainring without any difficulty.
- Use the barrel adjuster: If you notice any issues with shifting, such as slow or incomplete shifts, you can make minor adjustments using the barrel adjuster located on the rear derailleur. Turn the barrel adjuster clockwise to tighten the shifting or counterclockwise to loosen it. Make small adjustments and test the shifting after each adjustment until you achieve smooth and accurate shifting.
- Fine-tune with limit screws: If the chain is having trouble reaching the outermost or innermost gears, you may need to adjust the high and low limit screws on the rear derailleur. These screws control the range of motion of the derailleur. Refer to your bike’s user manual to adjust the limit screws.
- Seek assistance if needed: If you’re unsure about making adjustments or if the shifting issues persist despite your efforts, it’s recommended to seek assistance from a bike mechanic. They have the expertise and specialized tools to diagnose and fix more complex shifting problems.
Smooth and accurate shifting is crucial for a comfortable and efficient ride.
Ensure Proper Fit/Height
Ensuring that your bike fits you properly is essential for a comfortable and ergonomic riding experience.
Here are some steps to check and adjust your bike’s fit:
- Saddle height: Adjust your saddle height to achieve proper leg extension while pedaling. When seated on the bike, your leg should have a slight bend at the knee when the pedal is at its lowest position. Use a bike tool or Allen wrench to loosen the seat clamp bolt, adjust the height, and then tighten the bolt securely.
- Saddle position: Position the saddle fore and aft to find the optimal balance for your body. A good starting point is to align the saddle so that the kneecap is directly above the pedal spindle when the crank arms are parallel to the ground. Fine-tune the position based on your comfort and riding style.
- Handlebar position: Adjust the handlebar height and reach to ensure a comfortable riding position. You can raise or lower the stem or use spacers to achieve the desired height. Experiment with different stem lengths or handlebar positions to find the most comfortable and efficient position for your upper body.
- Brake lever position: Adjust the brake lever position to ensure easy reach and proper finger placement. Your fingers should comfortably wrap around the brake levers without overstretching. Loosen the clamp bolts on the brake levers and adjust their angle and position as needed. Tighten the bolts securely.
- Other contact points: Pay attention to other contact points such as pedals, grips, and shoes. Ensure that your pedals have a secure connection and that your grips provide a comfortable and secure hold. Adjust your shoe cleats if necessary for proper foot alignment and comfort.
Remember, bike fit is a personal preference, and what works for one rider may not work for another.
Checking and maintaining the condition of your grips or bar tape is crucial for a secure and comfortable grip on the handlebars.
Here are some steps to inspect and replace them if needed:
- Grips: Ensure that the grips are securely in place and don’t twist on the handlebars. Give them a firm tug to check for any movement or looseness. If the grips are loose, use a grip-specific adhesive or double-sided tape to secure them firmly onto the handlebars. If the grips are worn, torn, or damaged, it’s advisable to replace them. Remove the old grips by loosening any locking rings or end caps, slide them off, and then install the new grips, making sure they are predictably snug and aligned.
- Bar tape: If your handlebars are wrapped with bar tape, inspect their condition. Look for signs of wear, tears, or peeling edges. If the bar tape is worn out or damaged, it’s recommended to replace it for a better grip and aesthetics. To replace the bar tape, start by removing the old tape carefully. Clean the handlebars thoroughly and make any necessary adjustments or repairs. Then, start wrapping the new bar tape from the end of the handlebars, overlapping each layer slightly for a uniform and secure wrap. Make sure the tape is tight but not excessively stretched. Finish the wrap by securing the end with adhesive tape or the provided bar plugs.
- Bar end caps: Check that the ends of the handlebars have caps to prevent injury in case of a crash. Bar end caps are designed to cover the open ends of the handlebars, providing protection and maintaining a clean appearance. If your bar end caps are missing or damaged, replace them with new ones that fit securely into the handlebars.
If your bike is equipped with a dropper post, it’s important to ensure that it functions properly for a smooth and efficient ride.
Here’s how you can check and service your dropper post if needed:
- Dropper post operation: Activate the dropper post by pressing the control lever or remote. Observe if the post drops smoothly and returns to the fully extended position without any delay or resistance. If the post is slow or proves difficult to return, sags when pressure is applied, or fails to drop at all, it may require servicing.
- Cleaning and lubrication: Start by cleaning the dropper post thoroughly, removing any dirt or debris that may affect its operation. Wipe it down with a clean cloth and use a mild detergent if necessary. Once clean, apply a suitable lubricant to the post to ensure smooth movement. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the type of lubricant to use.
- Post servicing: If your dropper post is not functioning properly despite cleaning and lubrication, it may require professional servicing. Dropper posts contain internal mechanisms and hydraulic components that can be complex to repair or adjust. Take your bike to a qualified bike shop or mechanic to diagnose and address any issues with the post, such as air or oil leaks, worn-out seals, or internal damage.
The proper functioning of the dropper post is crucial for optimizing your riding experience, especially when transitioning between different riding positions.
For riders using e-bikes or bikes with electronic components, it’s essential to maintain and charge the batteries properly. Here are some important steps to follow:
- Battery charging: Before heading out for a ride, ensure that all the batteries associated with your bike’s electronic components are fully charged. This includes the e-bike battery, power meter, cycling computer, and lights. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for the specific charging requirements of each device.
- Battery inspections: Regularly inspect the battery and its contacts for any signs of damage or corrosion. Check for cracks, dents, or other visible damage on the battery casing. If you notice any issues, it’s crucial to address them promptly. Never use damaged batteries. Consult a repair shop.
- Charging safety: While charging the batteries, monitor them closely. If you notice excessive heat or if the battery becomes hot to the touch, immediately disconnect it from the charger and move it outdoors to a safe area. Overheating batteries can be a safety hazard, so taking precautions and preventing potential accidents is important.
- Battery maintenance: Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for battery maintenance, such as recommended storage temperatures, cleaning procedures, and lifespan expectations. Properly maintaining the batteries can help prolong their overall performance and lifespan.
Regularly charging and inspecting the batteries on your e-bike or bikes with electronic components ensures their optimal functionality and reduces the risk of encountering issues during your rides.
Tips for School: If you carry books, a water bottle, or other items in a basket, leave room in your backpack once you lock up the bike at the bike rack.
We just shared some great bicycle safety tips. But never assume others will follow the same bicycle safety rules. With National Bike Month, greenhouse gas concerns, and physical fitness priorities, increasingly bicycling is becoming more than just for exercise. With summer coming, beware of the road conditions and potholes caused by storms, hydrate, eat right and plan your route. Wear helmets that fit and avoid turning in front of oncoming car traffic.
Please make sure you and your kids feel comfortable while bicycling and your equipment is the right size. Properly inspect your bike and avoid dangerous intersections along your commute. Watch for potholes and road debris. Focus. Always look left, right left at your surroundings as you’re crossing streets and sidewalks. These are some of the safer choices for the cyclist who wishes to avoid crashes and return home safely in a pleasant manner.