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  • Robin Carter's all about safety

I have been commuting in Kelowna now for the past 8 years. My daily commute is just under 20kms. Over the years I have learned what gear I need to safely get to my destination and back home; as well as gear being aware of your surroundings and the traffic is crucial for avoiding serious injury. I will briefly cover some must haves for commuting safely followed by a discussion on motorists, pedestrians, and fellow commuters. My next post I will cover some essential gear for comfort; rain, snow, and everything in between.

First and foremost a safe bike is a happy bike - It's a great Idea to inspect your tires and brakes weekly; and each month give your bike a front to back checking for loose bolts and quick releases that have come undone. Make sure your pedals are in good condition and not ready to fall off. Gears are shifting smoothly. These are the safety items; maintenance is also very important as you rely on your bike as transportation. Getting it serviced a couple of times a year will prolong the life of the bike and save you money on repairs due to lack of maintenance such as worn out cassettes and chain rings.

Lighting - There have been several studies on the effectiveness of lights. The general conclusion is that a steady light is great for your vision but may not alert motorists as the brain does not respond as quickly to the constant light. Flashing lights are more attention getting but make it hard for motorists to gauge distance. If you're given a choice of one or the other perhaps a flashing light may be more suitable in higher traffic areas; having both a steady light and a flashing light may be the best overall solution. As for the rear I always run a bright flashing red light; I also have a built in light on my Abus Urban I 3.0 helmet. This is a fantastic helmet with a quick release buckle. All of my tires have reflective strips and try to wear clothing that is bright and reflective. I can't stress enough on being visible to may save your life.

Helmets - Lots of available statistics outlining the importance of wearing a helmet, 92% of deaths in such study indicated motor vehicles were involved; 97% of deaths involving a cyclists in New York City were not wearing a helmet; and only 13% of individuals with serious injury wore helmets....and bad news for us males; we accounted for 91% of deaths. Take home: WEAR A HELMET. There are plenty of websites that can show you how to properly fit a helmet. Here's a great video from ABUS

Bell or Horn - Part of my essential gear is a bell; inexpensive and trust me it should be getting used a lot. I have found 2 of the most unpredictable situations are dogs and children. I find that when I ring my bell coming up on people not only does it alert them but most often they are thankful. You should always be prepared for quick movement of children and animals.

Mirror - A great way to see what is coming up behind you. I currently do not have a mirror but with some of the E-bikes and scooters zipping by me I am adding one soon; there was a time when no one passed me so it was of no use; now some E-bike owners are bypassing the 32km/hr. governor required for Canadian use and can get speeds of up to 70kms/hr.

Motor Vehicles - Motor vehicles; regardless of who is right YOU WILL NOT WIN if you go up against a motor vehicle; always be cautious and prepared; make eye contact and be patient.

Whenever I am in bicycle lanes or intersections I make sure vehicles are stopped or aware of my presence. There is a certain round about located in Kelowna at Water Street and Queensway that I have had to ride into the centre because the motorists didn't see my extremely bright flashing lights. Fortunately, I was prepared and considered the driver may not be focused on driving....So far I've had 3 near misses at that round about.

Pedestrians and Fellow Commuters - As I mentioned earlier, be bright, be visible and having a way to alert others on the trails and shared pathways is courteous and can prevent injury. Regardless of what others are choosing as transportation we need to acknowledge everyone has the right to shared paths. Be courteous, respectful, and obey the rules of the road.

Lock - LOCK IT...LOCK IT...LOCK IT...LOCK IT get the point, bikes are being stolen at stupid rates right now and we need to do as much as we can to slow them down. A lock WILL NOT STOP a theft but the better the lock the longer it will take these A*#!holes to get the bike. And if you have an E-bike listen carefully...DO NOT LEAVE YOUR BATTERY ON THE BIKE, it will make the 55lb machine less attractive. So for locks I would recommend you spend at least $100 on a good U-lock and also have a very thick cable lock. U-locks are harder to cut off and having two locks will slow them down even more...remember locks will not prevent theft but will slow thieves down. As well as locking your bike make sure you have registered it with local authorities such as Project 529. If you do lose your bike then the likelihood of it being returned are higher. In our service shop we've had 3 stolen recovered bikes owners reunited with their bikes because they had them registered; they brought in for a check over and service. Here is the link to Project 529;

If you have any questions please feel free to email;

My next post I will cover essentials for rain, snow and everything in between..... including clothes and tires


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