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Lights, Locks, Helmets…ACTION! by Catherine Cuellar

Submitted by on June 13, 2010 – 5:15 pm7 Comments
yakkay-bicycle-helmet-cover

YakKay Bicycle Helmet Cover

The joy of riding a bike will change your life. But I cringe every time I see bicyclists in Dallas riding without helmets or on sidewalks. These common violations are not only illegal, they model unsafe behaviors and give cyclists a bad reputation among drivers and riders.

In addition to following the law, in the spirit of safety and fun I cannot recommend helmets and lights strongly enough. Helmets will save your life, or as my college boyfriend said “If you’re riding without a helmet, you’re a biking dork.” For vehicular cyclists who enjoy getting off trails and riding in city streets, lights are less about lighting the road for you and more about making you visible to ever-distracted drivers of cars.

Many people don’t wear helmets because they don’t look cool. Again, safety is more important than how you look. That said, helmets are getting better looking all the time, with designers like Paul Frank teaming up to create colorful designs for Bell Skate Helmets. Since I’m not a performance cyclist seeking aerodynamic design, I wear a skateboard helmet, which I find to be just as safe. I’m also lobbying local designers to come up with something as sassy as the Euro-chic YakKay.com helmet covers (but I’m not holding my breath).

BELL-skateboard-helmet

BELL Skateboard Helmet

Bern Helmets

Light-wise, CatEye LEDs are pretty bright with just a couple of batteries and can easily be mounted on your bike or just clipped onto your clothes. If you use rechargeable batteries, they practically last forever.

Cat Eye LED Light Set

Lock-wise, there are a couple of options. If you’re regularly leaving your bicycle unattended for a long period of time at a DART station, you might want to consider renting a bike locker ($15 deposit then $5/month or $45/year). Remember that you can now take your bike with you on DART buses and super light rail vehicles.

If you’re using bike racks at DART stations or while you’re at work or school,

U-Lock

U-locks are less susceptible to wire-cutters. If you’re leaving your bike somewhere low-visibility or low-traffic all day, I also recommend two things:

1) If you have a quick release seat, take it with you (making it very difficult for someone who breaks a lock to ride your bike off).
2) If you have a quick release tire, remove it and make sure the U-lock goes through both tires and your frame.
Otherwise, if you’re riding somewhere you or others will have an eye out for your bike (i.e. to picnic in a park, or a high-traffic shopping center while you’re dining or watching a movie) a cable lock is a good visual deterrent, and one cable lock can go through both your bicycles.

Cable locks are lighter than U-locks, making them easier to carry. I also recommend a combination cable lock so you don’t have to carry keys in your pocket while riding (just one more thing to lose).

Again, congratulations on trying to bike more, and have a happy and safe ride!

Catch more of Catherine at Catherine Cuellar.com

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