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HomeMisc. EBC Safety Tips

Miscellaneous EBC Member Riding Safety Tips

last updated:  4/3/2018

NOTE:  This page is under construction.

Authored outside the EBC

Smart Cycling Videos from the League of American Bicyclists

Online bike safety quizzes from Ride Illinois

Words of club wisdom from within the EBC

Dressing for Winter Riding, by George Pastorino


(Also see MTB: Winter Cycling Dressing Guide.)

Here is a winter dress guide for cyclists that has been battle tested by Pussanee and I...we both hate to be cold and unlike me...she has a scant amount of body fat to insulate her.

Pussanee and I ride all winter long and are never cold (both of us hate to be cold). First I will address the tops and bottoms. Most people over dress for cold weather rides, down to about 25 we will wear a smart wool top and bottom under a breathable windproof jacket and wind resistant tights. Below 25, we will add a thin synthetic long underwear under the smart wool layer and go to wind proof tights.....this set up takes us all the way below zero, don't forget you are cycling not ice fishing....dressing too warm is a killer. It takes a little tinkering to find the best combination for each person and weather condition. Most of the winter I just wear the thin synthetic long underwear under my windproof tights.

The hands and feet are a big problem for most people, but it can be overcome. Regular 5 finger finger gloves are useless below 30 degrees. From about 20 to 35 degrees we use good quality heavy Lobsters (gloves with 2 fingers and a thumb). See Example here:,86995_Pearl-Izumi-Lobster-Gloves-AmFIB-For-Men-and-Women.html Below 20 degrees the only way to keep your hands warm is Good Quality mittens with a handwarmer inside, you can spend $200.00 on gloves and your hands will freeze. Mittens are your ticket to happy winter cycling and yes you can shift fine...road STI or mountain.

There are few good solutions for the feet without investing some money. Shoe covers with Chemical hand warmers may work down to about 20 degrees, but it is not ideal. If you want to give up your clipless pedals, you can wear warm hiking boots. The Lake Winter boot will make you enjoy winter cycling: info here:'2976-07' we have done rides below zero with these boots, thin wool socks, along a hand warmer in them and have been very warm. Use hand warmers in the boots, toe warmers put out about half the heat. Also buy one size larger than your summer shoe, if your boots are tight, your feet will freeze. Most folks are fine without the handwarmer, but Pussanee and I both get cold feet easily.

Also in cold weather (below 20) we wear downhill ski helmets and goggles, the helmets are very light and warm and completely cover your ears, same for the ski goggles..... very warm and your eyes don't freeze. Plus a balaclava to keep your face warm. The ski helmets and goggles work better MTB riding in the woods, rather than road riding with cars due to peripheral vision issues.

Riding Safely in Large Groups, by Bill Schwartz

Many cyclists have never experienced riding in large packs of riders and are unsure of how to maneuver when they become part of a group of 1000+ cyclists. As most accidents occur between cyclists and not vehicles, it is important to know how to ride safely in such large groups. Many cyclists encounter groups of this size when they take bicycle tours in the summer months.

The first, and most important rule is to ALWAYS call out your intentions before you take action. If the rider in front of you is riding more slowly than you are, let them know that you will passing them on their left. (NEVER PASS ON THE RIGHT.) You may do this by saying,” Passing on your left.” If there is a large group of slower cyclists you may then repeat. “Passing.” However, before you pass look in your mirror to make sure that there aren’t vehicles or other cyclists ready to pass. If there are, then you should slow down and wait behind the slower cyclist until it is safe to pass. If you don’t inform the cyclist being passed that you are coming, they could unexpectedly move into your path as you go by!

Also, riding in pace lines should only occur if you know the other riders. Joining a passing pace line may seem to be a golden opportunity, but if you don’t know the other riders you are really putting yourself at risk. They may not call out obstacles or may be prone to sudden stops without warning. It will mean that if you do ride in strange pace lines, you must ride as if the other riders may do the unexpected at any moment because they probably will!

Be a polite cyclist in a group situation. Ask if you may ride with others before just starting to do so. Inform others of hazards in the road like glass or potholes. Acts of kindness like this will be appreciated. Saying a cheery hello or a short “How are you doing?” is a great way to make friends.

Beware of the other cyclists who may need to be given a wide berth because of lack of experience or extreme tiredness. The “wobbles” are a usual sign that the cyclist in front of you might not be the best one to get too close to when you are passing. This is especially true if the cyclist is a child who is just learning or is an adult going up the hill and weaving back and forth across the hill. In this case, it would be better to wait before approaching and passing that cyclist.

When you are going to stop, be sure to call out, “Stopping!” then pull all the way off of the road. Never stand on the road when stopped as there are other cyclists who will be coming through that you will impede. Call out all intentions when approaching stop signs or traffic lights. Always signal your intentions with hand signals as well as calling them out when approaching an intersection.

If there are many cyclists in a group, split the group into a smaller group as motorists will become frustrated when confronted with groups of 20+ cyclists.

When doing fast downhills (40+ mph) be very wary of doing so with a group in front of you. Passing on the left even when shouting out your intentions may not be heard by the rider in front of you. Waiting for a gap before descending is the wisest move. Leave a space between riders! Never brake while in the middle of a curve. Brake before the curve by feathering your brakes. Jamming on your brakes suddenly can lead to disastrous results. If the pavement is wet, consider slowing your descent as it could be easy to take a nasty spill if you would brake too quickly. Also, if you are braking a lot, consider stopping and letting your rims cool. If they are too hot to touch, then you need to let them cool or a blown out tire could be the result if you don’t let them cool.

Finally, be extra cautious when in urban traffic in an unfamiliar town. They may not be expecting you to be there and you should ride defensively.

Group riding can be a fun-filled experience.. So if you haven’t been part of a large group of cyclists, try a large bicycle tour sometime. It’s a great way to make new friends!

(This article also appeared in the newsletter of the Naperville Bicycle Club.)

Riding Safely with Lights, by Larry Gitchell

When going out on a night ride, be sure you have a headlight. It's not just a good idea - it's the law!
Small LED headlights satisfy the legal requirements, but the bigger the better. 6 to 10 watts is a good starting point. Your friendly local bike shop will be happy to help you select a suitable light.
Taillights are not a legal requirement, I strongly believe in them. It's best to have the taillight bolted or clamped to the frame to avoid the dreaded "Dropping Taillight Syndrome". If your light is just clipped on you may have to resort to tying or taping it in place.
When mounting a taillight position it pointing straight back so cars behind you can see it. A taillight blinking at the ground doesn't do much good, and having it tilted 45° so it shines up at the rider behind you is just plain annoying.
Blatant but non-commercial plug: If you need help mounting a light, give me a call or email. I have a machine shop and lots of experience fabricating brackets and light mounts. I work cheap (cost of materials, if I don't have something on hand). I also make adapters for rear racks that work better than the "one size fits none, bend to fit" parts you get with the rack.

First-Aid Kit, by Ted Sward

You can make a compact first aid kit from an inexpensive hinged soap dish. There is room enough for all the basic essentials, a few of which are:

  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Adhesive Bandages
  • 2 x 2 compresses
  • Folding scissors
  • Polysporin (antibiotic ointment)
  • Moleskin (for hikers. blisters)
  • Personal medications, etc.
Place this soap container in a Ziploc® bag to keep it from getting wet. If you would like to see a sample of one of these stop me on a ride sometime, as I always carry one.

Gear Management, by Ted Sward

Modern shifting devices make riding much easier for us, but many riders don't take full advantage due to their inability to shift correctly. When changing gears, there must be no tension on the chain but the pedals must be turning and at a fairly good RPM or cadence. Make your shift in advance of your needs. Look ahead at the road and determine how much shifting you anticipate. If there is a steep hill, shift into your small chain ring while you have 3 to 4 larger cogs (rear gears) available. The small cogs change much quicker than the larger chain rings (in front). Some riders don't use their small chain ring except in panic situations. They slow down until they are barely turning the pedals - they have great tension on the chain (pressure on the pedals) - then try to shift both front and rear derailleurs at the same time. This is when you hear the noise like a Model A getting its transmission torn out. Also - nothing shifts and you stop dead on the hill.

Use your small chainring as a working gear, not a last resort bail out. Anticipate your gearing needs - plan ahead!

Riding Gloves, by Ted Sward

Riding gloves are more than a fashion statement. They:

  • Provide a non-slip grip.
  • Enable you to brush debris from spinning tires.
  • Allow you to wipe stinging sweat from your eyes.
  • Cushion your hands from road shock.
  • Protect your palms when you reach out during a fall.
  • Some gloves have soft terry-cloth backings to wipe your nose.

Padded gloves and thick handlebar tape go a long way to prevent numbness in the hands caused by the compression and hyper extension of the nerves passing through the wrist into the palms creating pressure points. Change your hand position frequently (3-5 minutes). You may also find shaking your hands periodically also helps.

Some military bike history, by Ted Sward

1896—A young West Point graduate—Lt. James A. Moss (also an avid bicyclist) who was stationed at Fort Missoula, Montana, gained the approval of General Nelson A. Miles and the 25th US Infantry Bicycle Corps was formed. Bicycles had many advantages over horses. They were cheaper, did not eat, required little care. They made almost no noise, raised little dust and the tire tracks did not betray its direction. They needed no caretakers thus freeing men for battle.

Two shakedown treks of 126 miles (Lake McDonald) and 791 miles (Yellowstone Park) were successful. The troops carried 80 pound packs on their bikes and could roll the bikes when they could not ride. On June 14, 1897 they set out on a 2800 mile round trip to St Louis, Missouri. During the trip they encountered awful conditions. RAIN—HAIL—Roads turned into gumbo, snow, ice, cold, ankle deep sand, lack of water in Nebraska (even bumpy railroad ties looked attractive for 170 miles)—100° heat, sickness and blisters. They arrived in St. Louis on July 24 to cheers from large groups of wheelmen and citizens. However, no officers from the Army were present. The troops had accomplished the greatest military bicycle feat ever proposed on this continent. The corps returned to Fort Missoula by rail despite high praise from Gen. Miles. The corps disbanded April 10, 1898. (condensed from Invention and Technology Magazine)

Clipping In after intersections, by Ted Sward

When crossing intersections with traffic lights DO NOT “clip in” until you have completely crossed the intersection. To clip in or fiddle with toe clips causes the group to “stall” right in the middle of the crossing.

Riding around road construction, by Ted Sward

Anytime you encounter road construction or heavy equipment working on trails, make sure the workers and equipment operators are aware of your presence. DO NOT try to just sneak by.

Pedalling, by Ted Sward

Most important is to make sure your foot is properly positioned on the pedal. The ball of your foot should be directly over the pedal spindle. As your foot moves over the top of your pedal stroke, lower your heel slightly. As your foot moves downward on the power stroke point your toe slightly and raise your heel slightly. At the bottom of the arc pull back with your foot like you are scraping mud from your sole. This will extend your power stroke about 20° and increase your pedaling efficiency from 10-20%.

To the old-timers this is called "the ankling technique". Note: this can be done even if you are using pedals without toe clips or clipless devices. Think circles (spinning), don't just push down flat footed (pumping). If you use clip-less pedals or toe clips you can extend this power stroke 360° by pulling up with your foot until you feel pressure on the top of your instep.

It is important that you use your legs and your feet for an efficient power stroke. Note: you will discover new muscles in your shins and calves when you first use this technique - but stay with it and you will enjoy greater efficiency in your pedalling.

Rubber bands, by Ted Sward

When you get ready to discard an old inner tube, cut about a 2-foot section out of it and toss it into your 'junk' drawer. By cutting off narrow pieces you create excellent heavy duty rubber bands. By varying the width you can also vary their strength. If you can save tubes from Road, Hybrid, and Mountain Bikes you will have three different diameters to choose from. These are eminently useful for many tasks around the house.

Touring, by Ted Sward

Thoreau had it right — almost. “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential parts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” Replace “went to the woods” with “am going on a bike tour”, and what argument is going to work against that? — from Adventure Cycling Magazine.

DREAM TIME: When winter really sets in and you are unable to ride, this is the time to dream. Sets some goals for next riding season. Perhaps you could win your mileage patch (25-50-62-100 miles) or ride your first century. After the same routes for several years it might be fun to participate in some of the clubs multi-day events. These are great events that anyone can do. For those who have never done any bicycle touring—perhaps this is the year to expand your experiences. A good book to read is “THE ESSENTIAL TOURING CYCLIST ” (©2001) by Richard A. Lovett. This takes you through every step of the way from a simple two day excursion staying in a motel to multi-week self contained adventures. Our ranks of tourers has expanded in the last few years thanks to Dick and Freda Diebold who have been just great mentors to anyone even slightly interested in touring—talk to them! So—during the next year expand your horizons beyond the village streets.  DREAM ON!

Reinstalling Wheels, by Ted Sward

you must remove wheels when transporting your bike-make sure you properly reinstall them. The dropouts should be fully seated on the axle. Make sure the quick-release is properly secured. It should be tight enough that the lever leaves an indentation in your hand when you close it (but no more.)

Front wheel: Align the lever parallel to the fork blade.

Rear wheel: position the lever between the chainstay and the seatstay.

If you position the levers as above they cannot be accidentally released and a quick glance will assure you that the wheels are properly secured. Spin the wheels to make sure they do not rub on the frame and are centered properly. Make sure the brake pads do not touch the tire and are centered on the rims. Make sure you have reattached the brake cables if you have released them when removing the wheel.


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