“Safety is Sexy” may be the official motto of the CSE office. We say it as we strap a helmet to our head, put reflective and brightly-colored bike clothing on, and follow the rules of the road. So here are a few myths and facts about bike safety.
Myth: Bike helmets look lame.
Fact: Don’t say that bike helmets look lame when you can buy gorgeously feminine helmets like these, retro helmets like these, helmets that look like hats, ones that light up for nighttime riding, some that look like they’re made out of wood, and helmets with European flair. Bike helmets are even becoming a runway fashion statement, with New York Times doing articles on them. Besides, seeing a guy or girl bike down the street without a helmet on is an immediate turn-off for me. People that do wear helmets, however, obviously care about their brain, and that is sexy.
You may recently have seen this Buzzfeed article explaining why bike helmets are not only safe, but also pretty damn sexy.
Myth: “I’ll get helmet hair”
Fact: Yes, helmets can flatten your hair. However, it’s very easy to combat the so-called “helmet hair.” Some ideas call for a little forward thinking, like using foam rollers in your hair before putting your helmet on. Try these pretty buns, braids, and twists – let’s be honest, I would do these hairstyles even if I wasn’t planning on riding my bike! If you’re worried about sweat, just use a tiny bit of baby powder and a brush to soak up the moisture. It’s also good to remember that your hair would look even worse if your skull was cracked open.
Myth: “I won’t crash”
Fact: This really isn’t just about you – unfortunately, even the best riders can be taken out by a distracted driver, another biker, uneven pavement, gravel, loose dogs, wildlife (Last semester, I almost flipped over my handlebars when a groundhog decided to run out in front of me. Luckily, I only ran over his tail.), and more. And besides, even the pros crash – some of the worst crashes you’ll see are in the Tour de France. You just can’t take any chances when riding. No one is looking out for you, except for you.
Myth: If you’re only leaving for a minute, you don’t need to lock your bike.
Fact: It is incredibly easy to steal a bike that isn’t locked up – for goodness’ sake, a stolen bike is its own getaway vehicle! Make sure to lock your bike up PROPERLY every time you leave it. And don’t just lock up the front wheel or frame, especially if you have quick release wheels. With a flick of the quick release, the rest of the bike or wheel can be stolen. And not everyone is looking out for your bike. It’s always good to lock it, just in case.
Myth: Riding on the sidewalk is safer.
Fact: Riding on the sidewalk is illegal in many places! According to Pennsylvania law, bikes are prohibited on the sidewalk in business districts (aka downtown Carlisle) or when a bike lane is provided adjacent to the sidewalk (aka much of Carlisle). Most places have even more strict laws – in Philadelphia, no one over the age of 12 can ride on the sidewalk under any circumstances. Cyclists are required to follow the same laws as motor vehicles, and since cars and trucks aren’t allowed to drive on the sidewalk, neither are cyclists.
In addition, bike crashes are twice as likely to occur when riding on the sidewalk rather than on the road. When riding on the sidewalks, risks include pedestrians and cars backing out of driveways. Drivers typically aren’t expecting to have to watch for bikes when exiting their driveways, but are more alert to cyclists on the street.
Myth: Bikes only need lights if they’re being ridden on very dark roads.
Fact: Any bicycle that is being ridden after sunset is required by law to have a front and rear light. On the front, this light must be white, must illuminate the road in front of the bicycle, and must be visible from 500ft. In the rear there needs to be a red light, visible from 500ft away.
Lights make you visible to motorists, especially if you’re wearing darker clothing. Having a rear light that flashes makes you even more visible to drivers, and should also be used when riding on busy streets.
Myth: Cyclists should ride against traffic.
Fact: Biking against traffic is illegal and dangerous! Since bicyclists are under the same rules and regulations as motorized vehicles, they must obey the same traffic laws – like riding with the flow of traffic.
Riding against traffic also increases the speed of a potential crash, making them more likely to cause serious injury or death. Motorists also aren’t typically expecting traffic to be coming the other way, and thus might overlook a cyclist who is biking against the flow of traffic. Plus, a car making a right hand turn is extremely likely to slam into you as you approach an intersection from the wrong side of the road. And, of course, road signs are posted so that they can be read in the direction of the flow of traffic. If you’re riding against the flow, you won’t be able to read the signs. Plus, how can you make a right hand turn? You’d have to cross both lanes of traffic!
Myth: Bikes don’t need to be registered.
Fact: If (or when) your bike is stolen, having your bike registered with DPS increases the chances of getting your bike back. First, if your bike is found by a DPS or CPD officer (who may suspect a bike is stolen), they can then look at the registration to see who owns it, and then can contact you about your bike. Also, if your bike is stolen, the registration information includes a description of the bike, and its serial number, which can not only help officers keep a lookout for the bike, but can also prove that the bike belongs to you.