Bicycles are legal vehicles – and so have the right to share the road with motor vehicles. However, this right carries an obligation to be responsible, ride courteously and obey all laws.
LOC believes bicycle safety to be a serious matter and we expect our members to share in that commitment. Following these guidelines, as well as using common sense while cycling, should help minimize any potential problems or accidents.
Helmets are required. You must wear one at all times while riding a bicycle at any LOC event.
Obey all traffic regulations, signs and signals as if you were driving a car.
Ride with the flow of traffic. Ride in single file on busy roads. Larger groups should split into smaller units of 4 to 5 leaving a gap of at least 50m between each group to allow vehicles to pass more easily. When riding two abreast on quiet roads, be vigilant and drop back into single file when a vehicle approaches.
Share the roadway. Use the paved shoulder if available. Otherwise, ride within one meter from the edge of the pavement. Watch for and avoid drains and other potential hazards.
Ride in control. Keep several bike lengths between you and other cyclists. Maintain a safe speed, ride in a straight line and leave at least 50m between bikes while riding down steep hills.
Ride predictably. Communicate your intentions verbally and/or by hand signals. Call loudly (e.g. “on your left”) when passing. Hold out the back of your hand and yell “stopping” when you are about to brake.
Ride defensively. Make eye contact with drivers. Wave and wait for their acknowledgement.
Ride safely. Never tell someone that it is safe to do something. Never call out “CLEAR” as an invitation for other cyclists to enter an intersection or turn on a road. Make your own independent decision.
Be Aware. Always know what is going on around you. Always be able to see and hear clearly. Use a mirror and warn others of apparent dangers such as calling out “car back” when seeing vehicles coming from behind. Watch for cars coming out of driveways, overtaking you in the lane, and pulling out of side streets. Remember, the driver is USUALLY not on the lookout for cyclists.
Watch for road surface hazards. Be exceptionally careful of potholes, railroad crossings, bridges, gravel, drainage grates, wet metal, painted surfaces, and assorted debris.
Use an “Alright Bike”. Ensure that your bike is in proper working order. Keep tires at the proper pressure to avoid “snake bite” flats. Carry a spare tube, pump, patch kit, tire levers and a multi-tool. Make sure your bike is equipped with a bell and mirror, as well as lights especially when riding after dark.
Be highly visible. Wear bright colours like yellow, orange or red. Reflective stripes are excellent if riding after dark. A red rear strobe light and a front white strobe light are highly recommended.
Carry ID, medical card and a cell phone. If you have specific medical problems carry your Medical Alert Bracelet or ensure that someone else you are riding with knows about the issues.
Avoid theft. Never leave any valuables on unattended bikes. Never leave your bike unlocked.
Check behind you. Look in your mirror first and then turn your head to double check before signaling and making the turn.
Be cautious at busy intersections. If you need to cross a road or make a turn in heavy traffic, dismount at a stop, check for traffic, and when safe, walk as a pedestrian to cross.
Never “snake” or zig-zag up a hill. If the slope is too difficult, get off your bike and walk.
Ride safely in the rain. Reduce your speed. Pump your brakes from time to time to ensure they work. Maintain extra distance from other cyclists. Walk non-paved surfaces like metal or wood bridges, wooden pathways, cobblestones, and railroad tracks. Stop riding in heavy rain that impairs your vision or interferes with safe handling of the bicycle. If you hear thunder or see lightening, stop cycling immediately and seek shelter.
Be vigilant on trails. Slow down. Keep several bike lengths between you and other cyclists. Maintain an unobstructed view of your path ahead. Keep an eye out for pedestrians, small children, animals and inexperienced cyclists. Warn following cyclists of any known hazards.
Be aware crossing railroad tracks. Your safest option is to stop and then walk across a track. If you choose to ride, cross at close to a 90-degree angle and avoid entering into the vehicle lane of travel. Assume all wet RR tracks to be dangerous.
Dealing with dogs. If bothered by a dog, dismount at once and keep your bike between you and the animal. Never try to out-race a dog, hit it with your foot or squirt it with your bottle.
Riding in populated areas. Stay alert and ride defensively. Never ride your bike on the sidewalk. Watch for car doors opening, cars pulling into traffic, pedestrians darting into the roadway, etc.
Take care of your physical needs. Drink plenty of water throughout your ride. Always drink often and before you’re thirsty. Carry energy snacks with you and eat before you feel hungry. Create rest stops every 15 km or so to get off the bike and take a stretch. Stop for a leisurely lunch.
Pace Yourself. Listen to your body. Never push yourself beyond your comfort limits. If you do get signals from your body that are unusual or alarming, call (or have someone else call) EMERGENCY 911 right away.
Carpooling. When accepting a car ride to starting point of an LOC same-day event, it is customary to help defray operating costs by paying the driver $5.00 for trips within Lambton County (or within St. Clair County in the U.S.), or $10.00 outside of those counties. Carpooling arrangements including cost sharing payments for multi-day, longer distance trips should be determined by the event leader before departure.
Excerpts used with permission from Rodger and Suzie Knable of "Bike and the Like".