Wellness & Lifestyle

Bike Safely at Berkeley

Bikes can speed you up on the way to class and mitigate the return home. If you live off campus, you’ve probably biked to school a few times. However, if you don’t have a bike but are thinking about getting one for convenience, there are a number of things you should know about how to stay safe on your bike.

Bike accidents are real, and they happen every day. They can be as simple as falling over on the curb or flying off and breaking your clavicle. The most important thing you can do when you ride your bike is to wear a helmet! One inch of Styrofoam can be the difference between minor scratches and brain damage.

When those return trips run late, it’s important that your bike is lit up so that drivers can see you at night. As a pedestrian or cyclist, it is often easy to think we are obvious to cars on the road and that they can clearly see us. If you’ve ever driven a car, you know that sometimes what’s on the road in front of you is the second thing you’re thinking about. So, don’t take any chances! You want to be as eye-catching as possible, day or night, when you ride around next to speeding two-ton hunks of steel. To make your bike pop, get both front and rear flashing lights and put reflectors in your spokes and pedals. You can also buy wrap-around light strings for bikes that provide 360-degree visibility and a colorful flair.

If you don’t have either of those two things, don’t get on a bike! Other essential tips include:

  • Ride on the right side of the road, but stay away from parked cars that can open their doors.
  • Signal when you plan to turn by sticking out your arm on that side. (It takes some balancing.)
  • Let people know when you are passing them by calling out “On your right!” or “On your left!”.
  • Stay in the bike lanes when possible, and ride with traffic so that you don’t become a hazard.
  • Take your bike to maintenance regularly because older bikes can fall apart under pressure.
  • Don’t ride your bike through Sproul Plaza unless you want a ticket. This is, along with a few other high-traffic areas on campus, is a Walk Zone. This is for the safety of bikers and pedestrians alike.
  • Avoid theft! Something that often happens when people bring their awesome bikes to Berkeley is that the bikes get stolen. Use a U-lock, secure the frame of the bike, and lock down all wheels.

For more information about bikes, including how to register your bike on campus and how to lock it up effectively, visit the UCPD “Bikes on Campus” page (http://police.berkeley.edu/prevention/bike.html) and UC Parking & Transportation Department “Bicycle Information” page (http://pt.berkeley.edu/around/bike/info).

Article by Suna Wilkerson

Feature Image Source: Brick Lane Bikes