Safe, Family Cycling 101
Bicycling, whether on a traditional self-pedal bike, an electric bike, or a cargo bike, is a wonderful opportunity for family fun. It also imparts meaningful lessons about environmental stewardship to our children. Safety is the first concern of course, starting with accessories like taillights, headlights, and reflectors. Bicycling advocates – including the Consumer Product Safety Commission, especially stress the importance of taillights.
GoodTurn Cycles, with shops in Denver and Littleton, stocks a wide choice of lighting accessories, and many of our most popular E-bikes, like Gazelle, are built with integrated lights and reflective sidewalls on the tires. Bicycle mechanics and retail staff at GoodTurn Cycles’ nonprofit shops can provide safety checks for your bikes, and fit both children and adults with helmets, reflective components, and other safe-riding accessories. Children (of all ages 😊) love decking out their bikes with festive, colorful light strings too, and it will add to the joy – and safety – of pedaling.
Many of our cycling helmets are MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) approved, and we offer Bell, Bern, Thousand and other MIPS-conforming brands. It’s important to note that even the best helmets lose their effectiveness as the materials age. A typical effective “life span” is around five years. Further motivation for keeping current with helmets is that 75% of bicycle/driver fatalities are the result of head injuries!
Another simple, effective, and potentially festive way to make your bikes visible is the use of flags. These can be the popular orange or fluorescent yellow, or perhaps a brightly printed flag from your favorite school, band, or professional sports team. Have fun with this . . . you’re cycling, and there’s nothing more uplifting and invigorating! Wearing vests or other clothing with reflective and bright colors provides even greater visibility.
In addition to teaching our young interns valuable life-lessons through immersive bicycle maintenance and repair programs, we teach and instill safe and practical riding strategies. Some of these are obvious, but others are nuanced, like making eye contact with automobile drivers while stopped or crossing intersections. Jamal, our Job Skills Trainer, emphasizes the importance of this awareness, and encourages eye contact with other riders on crowded bike trails as well. The Cherry Creek Bike Trail and Platte River Bike Trail are extremely popular and can be crowded with pedestrians and joggers in addition to other cyclists. Verbal communication – alerting those in front of you when passing them, is important, and easily accomplished with a clear command such as “passing left” or “passing right.” Handlebar bells and horns are also useful for alerting others, and children love to ring them! Keep in mind that trail users frequently use headsets or earbuds, so don’t be shy about alerting people that you’re approaching them.
Allison, a Job Skills Trainer, cites the importance of adult riders flanking young riders. If two adults or other experienced bicyclists are present, one should ride behind the youngsters, and one should lead the ride. If only one adult is available, they should ride behind the kiddos.
Despite the recent and current efforts to create designated bicycle lanes and corridors, all cyclists – whether riding electric bikes, road bikes, mountain bikes (MTBs) cruisers or cargo bikes, should be aware that there are still inherent dangers when sharing routes with automobile traffic.
With the emphasis on climate awareness, electric and hybrid automobiles are increasingly populating our streets. While this is obviously good for the environment, it affects safe riding in a subtle way: “listening” for cars and vans is no longer a reliable warning of oncoming traffic, since their electric motors are quiet. Electric scooters are potentially even more hazardous, as they are permitted to use bike lanes, and their users frequently travel at high speeds.
The recently updated Denver Bicycle Map is available at GoodTurn Cycles and other shops, illustrating the safest biking routes around the city. The map is updated as new or improved routes are developed. Following these designated routes increases relaxation and contributes to the “cruising mentality” which is available only from the saddle of a bicycle . . . or tricycle!
The Denver Bicycle Map is also a good source for understanding how bike-route intersections (referred to as Bike Boxes) work. There are various designs, so it’s advantageous to familiarize yourself with these.
When designated bike routes are not available or not comfortable for whatever reason, riders should seek quiet, low-impact-traffic streets. And there are intersections in Denver where dismounting and walking is the safest way to cross them. A good source for such alternate routes is available on the app Bikestreets.
eBike rebates are rolling out from the City of Denver, and effective August 2023, the State of Colorado has an even larger program. The State’s rebates are projected to expire April 2024, at which time “tax credits” will be offered to participating bike shops, so there’s never been a better time to join the transportation revolution. Combining rebates from multiple agencies, i.e., the City of Denver and the State of Colorado, is not permissible currently.
Before purchasing an eBike, including cargo bikes, check out GoodTurn Cycles inventory of brands like Bullitt, Riese & Muller, and Giant. All our bikes are available for test rides!
We can’t wait to see your family out riding or in the shop!