Safety first for summer cyclists

27 Jun 2005 | Pfc. Drew W. Barker

It can happen so quickly; you’re pedaling along one of the bases many beautiful bike paths while the sun warms your face and you take a deep breathe of a cool summer’s breeze. The skies are blue and you notice some wild flowers at the edge of the woods to your right. Before you can direct your attention back to the path, you hit a patch of sand and begin to lose control.

The next thing you know you’re inspecting a scraped knee and looking around to see if there are any witnesses. Luckily, you were wearing a helmet in accordance with base orders and the only thing that is really sore is your pride.

The summer provides individuals a wonderful opportunity to enjoy using their bicycles for recreation, physical conditioning and transportation around base. Although there is always risk of having an accident, cyclists can protect themselves and others by following the guidelines outlined in base order 5560.2L and taking other precautionary measures including annual bike inspections according to Cpl. Jordan Palmer, a desk sergeant with the Provost Marshals Office, Marine Corps Base.

The order mandates bicycle riders observe the same rules and regulations required of motorists, and ride on the right edge of the roadway, with the flow of traffic.

“Bicyclists are required to abide by the same laws that apply to motor vehicles in the state of North Carolina, because they are considered vehicles of sorts,” said Jack Kane, owner and manager of The Bicycle Shop in Jacksonville for over 33 years. “Bikers have to stop at red lights and signal their turns just like cars.”

The order also instructs riders to wear certain protective gear and apparel.

All bicyclists traveling on paved roads aboard the base are required to wear a bicycle helmet that meets the standards of the Snell Memorial Foundation or the American Standards Institute. Between evening and morning colors they must wear an international orange, bright yellow, or lime green reflective vest over their outer garment. At least 30 square inches of reflective surface, 15 in front and 15 in the rear, must be visible, according to base order 5560.2L.

“Proper equipment is essential for safe riding,” said Kane. “All riders should wear helmets and reflective gear at all times.”

In addition to the guidelines established for daytime riding, the order dictates that cyclists choosing to ride during hours of darkness must equip their bicycles with headlights, rear red reflectors and red lights.

“There are flashing strobes that are designed for bicyclists to use at night,” said Kane. “They have a visibility of up to two miles in darkness and are also great for early mornings and even the middle of the day.”

Other things riders should take into consideration include regular maintenance of bicycles, maintaining adequate hydration and using protective eye wear, according to Kane.

“The most important precaution that cyclists can take is to have their bike inspected by a professional to make sure it is in sound, working order,” said Kane. “We offer free inspections, so there is really no excuse not to take this safety measure.”

Another safety measure that is highly overlooked is hydration, according to Kane.

“Water is a must,” said Kane. “When you’re riding, you don’t notice how much you are sweating because of the breeze that is cooling and drying you off, but in fact, you need about five ounces of liquids for every 15 minutes of biking.”

Bugs and debris from passing vehicles and other riders also pose a serious threat to riders safety, according to Kane.

“If you’re riding along and something hits you in the eye, you’re going to have an automatic reaction, whether it’s to reach for your eye or jerk the wheel. Both can cause a very dangerous situation.”

Bicycling can be a great activity for individuals to enjoy this summer. Using precaution and following safety rules outlined in base order 5560.2L can help prevent injuries, avoid accidents, and ensure a fun summer for all.