Cycling in Central Virginia
May is Bike Safety Month. Whether you bike for fun, exercise, or transportation, Charlottesville is a great place to ride. Most drivers in our area are accommodating to cyclists on the road, but there are always exceptions.
Several groups bring cyclists together to share in cycling adventures. The Charlottesville Bicycle Club provides excellent advice on their website on where to bike and which roads to avoid:
Avoid biking on US 29, except for a few very short sections in rural areas to get from one back road to another;
Avoid biking on US 33 (Spotswood Trail) running east/west through Greene, Orange, and Louisa counties.
Be particularly alert when driving on hilly or winding rural roads. People sometimes drive faster than they should, not anticipating much traffic on these roads.
Bicycling is also a great family activity and helps kids develop judgment and self-confidence, safe practices, and lifelong skills.
Here are the TOP TEN SAFETY RULES for all cyclists, regardless of age:
1. Wear a bike helmet that fits you and is properly adjusted. It could save your life in a crash. Consumer Reports tests of 23 adult and children’s models found several worth recommending.
2. Ride in the same direction as traffic – on the road, on the shoulder, or on a sidewalk. Go with the flow—not against it. In situations where you have to ride toward traffic, approaching every intersection with extreme caution and be prepared to stop instantly.
3. When passing a pedestrian or another cyclist, warn them of your approach with a bell or shout (as in, “on your left!”).
4. Stop for all stop signs and obey all other traffic signs and signals. Scan for traffic around you. Before making a turn, always look behind you for a break in traffic, then signal and position yourself in the proper lane.
5. Keep at least one hand on the handlebars at all times — two is better. If you need to carry books or groceries, put them in a bike carrier or backpack.
6. Avoid riding at night. If you must ride in the dark make sure you have reflectors on the front and rear of your bike. Virginia law require white lights on the front and red rear reflectors; a rear red flashing light makes it easier to be seen.
7. Leave your headset or earphones at home so you can clearly hear what’s going on around you.
8. Watch for hazards such as glass, rocks, litter, or potholes, which can cause you to lose control of your bike.
9. When riding near parked cars, be aware that doors can suddenly open. It is best to ride 4 feet from parked cars to avoid being hit by a door.
10. Be extra cautious at intersections—about half of crashes occur there.