How to Stay Safe When Biking


— County of San Diego , May 13, 2013

Some people bike for fun. Others ride for exercise or to get to work.

Melinda Therkalsen, 31, does it for all of the above…so that she doesn’t have to give up her favorite foods: pizza, cake and enchiladas.

“I exercise so that I can eat what I want,” said Therkalsen, an analyst with the County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) who bikes from Ocean Beach to downtown—about 7 miles each way.

“Biking is a good way to exercise. Besides, you have to get to work anyway,” added Therkalsen, who always rides her bike to work unless she has to drive to meetings or it’s raining.

May 17 is Bike to Work Day and if you are considering biking to work, here are some tips to make your commute a safer one:

  • The Right Bike—Make sure your bike “fits” in relation to your height. If it’s an older bike, a local repair shop can tune it and do a safety check for you.

  • A Good Helmet—A helmet that fits properly will protect you in case of a fall. A helmet is required for everyone under 18 years old and recommended for everyone else. It must meet certain legal standards.

  • Way to Go—Choose a route in advance with the help of the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) Regional Bike Map or Google Maps. SANDAG’s iCommute program also provides information about how to sign up for a bike locker and take your bike on transit.

  • Rules of the Road—It’s important to learn and follow the rules of the road. The San Diego County Bicycle Coalition also offers helpful courses for riders.

  • Safety First—When biking on roadways, ride with the flow of traffic, stay alert and wear bright-colored clothing and reflective gear at night to make you more visible. At night, use a bright headlight and taillight.
Biking to work doesn’t have to be limited to one day per year. With an average temperature of 71 degrees, the region is one of the best places in the country for people to get places on two wheels.

Remember, bicycling can save money, reduce stress, and help the environment. It can also help you stay fit.

“Bicycling is an easy way to increase daily physical activity to stay healthy and reduce the chances of getting a chronic disease,” said Dean Sidelinger, M.D., child health medical officer for HHSA. “More than half of San Diego County adults are overweight or obese. Bicycling and living an active lifestyle can help you stay fit.”

The County, through the Healthy Works projects along with San Diego State University and SANDAG has installed 28 bicycle counters throughout our area to let city and regional planners know how many and where people are using bicycles, which can lead to continued improvements such as more bicycle lanes and paths.

Currently there are more than 1,000 miles of existing bikeways in the region and thousands more are in the works.

HHSA’s Therkalsen, who not only rides her bike to work, but also to the gym and for her marathon training, believes this will lead to more cyclers on the road and make it safer to commute by bike.

“Drivers will see more bikers on the roads and make sure they use their turn signals,” she said. “The more bikers there are, the safer it is for all of us.”





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