Five Layers of Bike Safety: Tying it All Together

This will be my last post on this blog. It was conceived in the early stages of the Covid pandemic, April 2020, in response to seeing so many new people out on bikes, so early in the season (for Maine). The goal was to provide basic should-know information to people who may be taking up biking for the first time as adults, or in a long time, or ever. I hope that it  has accomplished that.I think that I have covered the basics now, and I'll wrap it all up with a concept known as the Five Layers of Bicycle Safety. This concept was developed by Dan Gutierrez, a bicycle safety educator in California. For this post, I will present each of his slides, with commentary by Mighk Wilson, another long-time bicycle educator, a transportation planner, lifelong cyclist, and co-creator of CyclingSavvy.
 The Five Layers of Bicycle Safety
In Dan's words, "The important talking point about this diagram is that the layers are cumulative and build upon each other, with the first 4 to eliminat…

A Maine International Bike Ride

This week, I'm taking a break from this blog's normal "helpful" content (I hope) to use this site to document a multi-day ride I did this week with my friend Cheryl Drda. We did this as a fund-raiser for our church, Westbrook-Warren Congregational Church/UCC in Westbrook, Maine.To Donate:
Online at our GoFundMe pageBy check to Westbrook-Warren Congregational Church/UCC, 810 Main Street, Westbrook, ME, 04092. Write "bike ride" in the memo line. Thank You'sI'm going to do this up front, in case you don't read all the way to the end. We received support from a number of sources, and I apologize in advance if I'm forgetting anyone.Westbrook-Warren Friends Club, for funding our custom jerseysXtreme Screen & Sportswear of Westbrook, for giving us an excellent deal on printing the jerseysRev. Dr. Leslie Foley, for being our chauffeur and Sherpa, above and beyond initial planningHer son Kyle for putting up with all that boring time in the car
The T…

More Safety Options

This week, we'll wrap up the topic of extra accessories, mostly for safety. None of these is widely legally required (although your state may vary), but they can help.
Helmets Ask anyone what they know about bike safety, and "wear a helmet" is commonly agreed to be an important thing  you have to do to be safe. Even if someone knows nothing else about bike safety, they know that.

Yet, many people don't do it. What's up with that?

In most places, they are not legally required for adults, although some municipals have their own ordinance. Most US states require children under a certain age to wear one, typically 16 (as in Maine) or 18. Connecticut requires everyone riding an eBike to wear one, but not a traditional bike. Some Canadian provinces may require it, as well as some other countries.

In deciding whether or not to wear one, you can do a deep dive into statistics and crash analysis, or just talk to an emergency room nurse who's seen his or her share of …

Light Up Your (Bike) Life

This week, we're starting a series on accessories, mostly focused on safety.

In my opinion, the most important pieces of safety equipment that do not automatically come with the bike are lights, if you plan on riding at night. Lights are legally required for riding at night in all states, the only accessory that I'm aware of that is.

Or you could just not ride at night. Some bicycle manuals actually recommend that! To me, that seems like a real lazy way out, not to mention disempowering. I'm sure they say that mostly because their lawyers told them to. But with a good set of lights, night can be one of the most relaxing times to ride! Traffic is down on most roads, and you may even have it to yourself much of the time. Also, it's easier to see cars coming, and from farther away, because of their headlights. Having lights yourself will give you confidence that you will be seen by others, and if they are strong enough, enable you to see the road well enough to avoid poth…

An Independence Day Manifesto

Today, in honor of our nation's Independence Day, I'd like to take a break from the more usual safety topics that this blog typically presents, and write a more personal reflection on personal independence and freedom of travel.
My Cycling Journey I am primarily a transportation bicyclist. I do sometimes to take longer recreational rides, and last summer I did a week long 320-mile bicycle trip to New York State, "unsupported" (unaccompanied by any support vehicle, just me and my bike). But mainly, I just pedal 11 miles round trip each weekday to work and back (before the pandemic), and anywhere else I need to go for meetings and errands in the Portland region.

I'd always seen bicycling for transportation as a desirable option from both the environmental and fitness standpoint, but it never seemed feasible for me until 2002, when our family moved to Westbrook, only about 5 miles from my office near the Maine Mall. I checked out the bus system, and discovered that…

Knowledge That Could Save Your Life

This post wraps up our series on lane position, which started with Four Reasons to Avoid the Edge of the Road, and continued last week with Lane Position Choices. This week, we'll take a look at two of the most dangerous situations that unwary cyclists can find themselves in.

Spoiler alert: Both of them can be avoided by taking a position away from the edge of the road.
1. How to Avoid the Right Hook This is when a cyclist hits, or is hit by, a right-turning car. This can happen in two ways.

This can happen with or without a bike lane. And as with all intersection crashes, a bike lane does not protect you here. In too many cases, bicyclists may feel safe because they're in a bike lane, and ride right up into a motorist's blind spot. The problem is made worse when the bike lane has been physically separated from the travel lane, such as by bollards or parked cars. The separation creates a sight obstruction.

A bike lane that goes right up to the corner actually encourages b…