Guest written by Rob Hutchinson, SNVBC President
May is National Bike Month, and because of the pandemic-inspired cycling boom, more people than ever before are saddling up to celebrate. Nationally, bicycle sales were up 65 percent last year, and the number of registered bikes on Bike Index increased by 241,330 in 2020. In Las Vegas, retailers like Las Vegas Cyclery, report having sold up to one year’s worth of inventory in three months during 2020.
But a larger cycling population means more people to educate about riding safely.
This month the Southern Nevada Bicycle launched Ride Safe: Know Before You Go, a five-point safety strategy that’s easy to follow. Whether a person has been riding for decades or just a few days, Ride Safe’s five points should be second nature for all cyclists. Since educating thousands of new cyclists and encouraging existing cyclists to brush up on safety is a big job, we’ve enlisted some help.
This month motorists will see Ride Safe billboards featuring the five Know Before You Go safety icons, thanks to a partnership with Skye Canyon and Southern Highlands. Also supporting the effort are the Cities of North Las Vegas and Henderson, Clark County School District’s Safe Routes to School program, the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, Save Red Rock, and Ghost Bikes Las Vegas.
So before you go, here’s what you need to know:
- PROTECT YOUR HEAD
A cyclist is only fully protected if their helmet fits properly.
- Helmets should be snug but not annoyingly tight.
- The rear adjustment wheel and the chin strap should be secured so that the helmet presses against the top of the cyclist’s head.
- Children’s helmets should fit when purchased, and should not be considered something to grow into.
- Work with a local bicycle retailer to ensure a proper fit.
- BE VISIBLE
Cyclists must take measures to be sure drivers can see them.
- Use front and rear lights even during daylight hours.
- Wear bright-colored clothing and gear to increase your visibility.
- USE BICYCLE-FRIENDLY ROUTES
- Choose to ride on streets with designated bike lanes or wide shoulders.
- Pick slow streets, meaning roads with lower speed limits.
- BE PREDICTABLE
- Cyclists should alert drivers by signaling turns. It’s recommended a cyclist signal 100 feet before a turn by extending their arm for two seconds in the direction of the turn.
- Cyclists should check over their shoulder for oncoming vehicles before making a left turn or changing lanes.
- Cyclists should not do things like making a left turn across traffic unexpectedly, swerving between parked cars, or darting out of a driveway or off a sidewalk without warning.
- RIDE DEFENSIVELY
In addition to the four points above, cyclists should:
- Stay clear of the curbside
- At intersections, always make eye contact with the driver before proceeding.
- Always assume motorists don’t see you, even if you have the right of way.
- Be wary of riding in a vehicle’s blind spot
- Be aware of pedestrians who may step into the road and car doors that may open.
Please help spread the Ride Safe message by sharing this list with a cycling friend or family member. Together we can make Southern Nevada a safe-cycling community.