Author Topic: Basic bicycle safety kit  (Read 5749 times)

igthebold

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Basic bicycle safety kit
« on: May 16, 2012, 06:36:33 AM »
If you had to make a list of must-haves for bicycle safety, what would it be? Here's my current thinking, but my main goal is to improve it based on feedback here:
  • Helmet
  • Front and rear blinkenlights
  • Thing to keep your pants leg from flapping
  • Rear view mirror?

igthebold

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Re: Basic bicycle safety kit
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2012, 06:39:42 AM »
Rear view mirror?

PS—What kind of mirror would you recommend, if any? I don't have one yet.

grantmeaname

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Re: Basic bicycle safety kit
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2012, 06:53:38 AM »
Helmet.
Knowledge of your state's bicycling laws.
Lights.

velocistar237

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Re: Basic bicycle safety kit
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2012, 08:01:19 AM »
Reflectors. Reflective vest. Light-colored clothing. Glasses to deflect debris and bugs from your eyes.

A horn, or maybe this one, though it's a novelty, really. I just yell.

I use the Take-a-Look bicycle mirror, original size.

Matt K

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Re: Basic bicycle safety kit
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2012, 08:57:52 AM »
If you had to make a list of must-haves for bicycle safety, what would it be? Here's my current thinking, but my main goal is to improve it based on feedback here:
  • Helmet
  • Front and rear blinkenlights
  • Thing to keep your pants leg from flapping
  • Rear view mirror?

Helmet, yes.
Front light and rear light, yes
Thing to keep your pant leg from flapping? I call it a sock. Similarly it can be made from a used inner-tube
Mirror, not required. They are nice to have, but just like in a car, should not be trusted. Always do a shoulder check.

I would add:
  • A bell, others have recommended a horn. I just need something to alert pedestrians to my presence, and other cyclists to my passing them. I want something that does not sound aggressive or annoying (when I'm tired and breathing hard, I never sound as polite yelling as I intend). $2 bell works great.
  • Tire change tools: a three pack of plastic tire levers, a spare tube, and a compact pump (all of which can fit in an under-saddle bag). The reason for three levers is that most people need two, and they break right at the worst time, so they are sold in threes. If your bike does not have a quick-release rear wheel, than you will need a 15mm wrench (or whatever size nut holds on your rear wheel).
    If you don't have the kit to change your tire, you'll catch at a nail 10 miles from home. If you have the kit, you won't (or if you do, it won't be a big deal).

+1 on knowledge of you local bicycle and traffic laws.

Bakari

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Re: Basic bicycle safety kit
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2012, 09:25:24 AM »
1 Lights.  Bright ones.  Blinky for the front is often not sufficient.  At least a 1W luxeon or cree, or at least 100 lumens.  1000 lumens is better. It should ideally have a flashing mode for daytime and steady for night time.
 
2 Gloves.  When you fall, you naturally catch yourself with your hands.  Gloves help mitigate abrasion and wrist sprains.

3 Helmet - but make sure you adjust the straps right.  I think the majority of people don't.  It shouldn't move in any direction more than a centimeter or two.  It should be mildly uncomfortable to open your mouth.  I wear a light full-face helmet.

4 Glasses (not being able to see can be dangerous)

Loud horn (air zound or megahorn or DIY scooter horn with 9v battery) is very nice
Bell is nice for alerting pedestrians w/o scaring them, though you can just call out
Reflective tape for bike and helmet and stock reflectors if you ever ride at night (lights even if you don't)
A lock for once you get where your going
A cell phone (or change) for emergencies
A bike multitool and patches (if you know how to use them)

Depending where you live, handlebar mounted pepper spray

I personally don't like mirrors at all.  Too inaccurate, faster and more reliable to use your ears, supplemented with just turning your head.  There is no headrest or door pillar on a bike, so looking back is easier than in a car.  Besides, its not the cars behind you you need to worry about, its the cross traffic and oncoming cars.

velocistar237

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Re: Basic bicycle safety kit
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2012, 09:51:45 AM »
I personally don't like mirrors at all.  Too inaccurate, faster and more reliable to use your ears, supplemented with just turning your head.  There is no headrest or door pillar on a bike, so looking back is easier than in a car.  Besides, its not the cars behind you you need to worry about, its the cross traffic and oncoming cars.

I'm curious, have you tried one?

Maybe it's just my area, but I find a mirror very useful. Drivers are nicer when they're happier, and if I can look and tell that there's only one car coming up behind me, I don't have any problem moving aside into a long gap between parked cars to let that one car pass. If there are three cars, I'll hold my line. Other bikes are also an issue. They often will overtake you at the least opportune moment, and a guy on a fixie is silent. Also, it's very windy here, so hearing isn't great. In the winter, my ears are covered, and I can't turn my head that easily. Having a mirror allows you to check behind you faster so your eyes and attention can stay mostly ahead, so long as you don't develop bad habits and check behind you constantly.

Some day, I expect it to make the difference between an irritating event and some jerk taking out my elbow and handlebars in a hit-and-run. I've come that close several times. Stupid Boston area streets.

Bell is nice for alerting pedestrians w/o scaring them, though you can just call out

Some local laws won't even allow horns and bells for pedestrians and other bikers. A verbal warning is required.

grantmeaname

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Re: Basic bicycle safety kit
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2012, 11:48:46 AM »
Some local laws won't even allow horns and bells for pedestrians and other bikers. A verbal warning is required.
Again, knowing your laws in important. Ohioans can have bells but not horns, for example.

sideways8

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Re: Basic bicycle safety kit
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2012, 11:50:24 AM »
I'm not a biking guru but I feel safter when I have a mirror. There are no bike lanes and in many areas no shoulder so for me, I just feel more confident if I have a mirror (in addition to turning to look behind me and using my ears). Wind in your ears, quiet cars, distracted drivers... there's a lot to look out for! You could even wear a reflective safety vest. I have one for walking my dogs at night. That thing is so big I could probably fit it over a backpack.

napalminator

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Re: Basic bicycle safety kit
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2012, 02:00:54 PM »
Emergency info on your bike/pack/person.  at least your name and who to call if you're unconscious. 

Road ID if you wanna be fancy about it.

napalminator

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Re: Basic bicycle safety kit
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2012, 02:06:38 PM »
some cheap places to pick up lights and other little accessories:
Deal Extreme
Pricepoint.  Their house brand Sette has some dirt cheap stuff.
Nashbar always seems to have a sale going on.

Enphuego

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Re: Basic bicycle safety kit
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2012, 04:42:56 PM »
I'd definitely get a mirror.  I have one like this and it makes biking in traffic much safer.  http://www.performancebike.com/bikes/Product_10052_10551_1031102_-1_301641__

Optional but useful would be an 808 keychain spy camera.  I'm putting one on my helmet and one on the back of my bike after my wife got hit by a car (she was fine but didn't catch the tag number).  Another friend of mine had to go through a lot of surgery after a hit and run.  Road rage can and will happen and having the whole encounter on video will put the person in jail.  In fact just mentioning the fact that the entire encounter is being recorded will diffuse a dangerous situation in a hurry.

I also have Mr. Tuffy bike tire liners to reduce the amount of flats.  I'll be adding some toe clips so I can move a bit faster on my bike and I'll probably be replacing the reflectors with reflective tape because I can't see the point in having all that weight + wind resistance clipped onto my bike.

Bakari

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Re: Basic bicycle safety kit
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2012, 07:53:04 PM »
I personally don't like mirrors at all.  Too inaccurate, faster and more reliable to use your ears, supplemented with just turning your head.  There is no headrest or door pillar on a bike, so looking back is easier than in a car.  Besides, its not the cars behind you you need to worry about, its the cross traffic and oncoming cars.

I'm curious, have you tried one?

I have.  3 different types and sizes of handlebar mounted ones as well as one head mounted one, on various bikes over the years.  I've always given them another chance when I come across one, and always end up taking them off.  One thing was that you either have a very large "objects are closer than they appear" factor, and/or a very limited field of vision.  Usually both.
But the larger issue is I don't really see the point.
You can't tell the difference between someone who is going to give you 1 ft of clearance and someone who is just barely going to nick you from 20ft away.  The difference is just too small to work out such precise trajectories.  So all it can really do is make you worry about every passing car, when getting hit from behind is extremely rare.  I guess knowing a car is coming up behind you could warn you not to suddenly swerve left, but I find its just as easy to not ever suddenly swerve left.  If you assume cars are there at all times, and ride accordingly, what difference does it make if there is actually one there at any given moment?  The only time I think it would be useful is when you are going to change lanes to make a left turn (or to go straight if there is a dedicated right turn lane) but that comes up infrequently enough to just look behind you.

All that said, I don't think there is anything unsafe about having a mirror, or any reason to avoid it - as long as you recognize the limited field of vision and "objects are closer" factor and never rely on it to ensure there isn't a car if you are going to move left.  I personally found I came to rely on them when I had them, and didn't always turn my head to double check, and that was dangerous.

onehappypanda

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Re: Basic bicycle safety kit
« Reply #13 on: May 25, 2012, 04:10:36 PM »
Mine, though I'm admittedly a bit of a minimalist:

1. Helmet

2. GOOD lights. Bonus for reflectors and light clothing. Make yourself be seen.

3. Knowledge. Know your laws, and know the traffic patterns in your area.

4. Awareness. Whether this comes from your eyes, ears, a mirror, or all three. The main point is that you know what's around you.

That's basically it. Tools to change a flat are very useful if you tend to venture in areas where you couldn't easily get alternative transportation. I don't carry them currently because I'm in the city and it's easy for me to hop a bus (for free). A cellphone, even if it's just an emergency-only one, can be useful as well. Ditto pepper spray if you're in the country or some sketchy 'hoods.

The pant leg things I don't use, but I bike in a lot of skirts and skinny jeans. In a pinch I use a hair tie. I guess these are the benefits to being a girl.