As the weather heats up, cyclists hit the streets, furiously peddling up and down the windy country roads. The blooming of the cyclists sometimes results in vehicle/rider confrontations, but all that could be avoided if everyone adhered to a few simple rules and courtesies.
Joe and Lisa Hill are avid cyclists and own Stumpblaster Bicycles in downtown Glen Rose.
“Half of the time, it’s the cyclist’s fault and half the time it’s the driver’s fault,” Joe said. “Nobody owns the road, the motorist or the cyclist. We have to share the road.”
“Around here, people are pretty good,” Lisa said.
And it all comes down to common sense and courtesy.
The duo said cyclists must obey traffic laws, such as stopping at stop signs and yielding at yield signs.
Joe gets irritated when he sees other cyclists not abiding by the rules because it gives law-abiding cyclists a bad name.
“We have to respect the rules,” Lisa said. “We can’t impede traffic intentionally.”
Joe said cyclists also need to think about when and what roads they choose for cycling.
“Sometimes it’s just not safe to be on the road,” Joe said.
Sunrise and sunset often create a glare that makes it difficult for drivers to see. Also, rain not only creates slick roads but also limits a driver’s visibility.
“Cyclists have to keep that in mind,” Joe said. “It may be the driver’s fault but it’s still the cyclist who is hit.”
Drivers can help a cyclist by honking 100 yards before reaching a rider. Both Joe and Lisa said riders need to be aware of their surroundings, but added that they often can’t hear because of the wind and road noise.
Joe also added that his pet peeve is impatient drivers.
“People who would normally be caring and courteous transform behind the wheel,” Joe said.
Instead of slowing down and safely passing a cyclist, drivers blow by - often too close to the cyclist.
Cyclists often have the misconception that it is safer to ride against the flow of traffic. Joe said it is actually safer to ride with traffic, as far to the right as possible.
Lisa said it is also important that groups of cyclists ride single file, but stop and cross intersections as a group.
“People want to talk because it is social, but they need to be single file,” Lisa said.
Lisa and Joe both agree on the importance of helmets.
“It’s the number one thing,” Lisa said.
“It’s too late when your are laying in a MRI machine,” Joe added.
Knee and elbow pads are also a good idea for younger riders, but Lisa said older riders should learn to be aware of their surroundings and not fixate on the rider in front of them. In turn, the lead rider should point out obstacles such as rocks or holes so that other riders don’t stumble over them.
Sunglasses are also important to keep sun glare and bugs out of a rider’s eyes.
The duo said although there is safety in numbers, riders shouldn’t avoid going out alone if they take precautions.
Lisa said everyone should carry food and water in an accessory bag with a cell phone, tire repair kit and bandages.
Also, wearing bright colors such as yellow and white makes riders easier to spot on the side of the road.
Another obstacle cyclists come across is dogs. Lisa said squirting water in their direction is often all that’s needed to deter a pesky Fido, but if you have to get off your bike, make sure to keep the bike between you and the dog.
Whether you are a serious competitor or looking for a good work out, another important consideration is equipment.
“Don’t skimp on tires, tubes and equipment,” Lisa said. “As for bikes, once they are broken it’s difficult to repair if it’s not a quality bike.”
Joe and Lisa, who have five children of their own and ride approximately 25 miles a day, said cycling is a better cardio workout and not as hard on your body as running if done safely and correctly. It can also make a good family activity.
“What I would like to see more of are families purchasing bikes for kids,” Lisa said.
With a vast array of bicycles, families can easily assemble a menagerie of bikes to fit everyone.
Children as young as 18 months can start riding a Strider - a small two-wheel bike without pedals.
Parents can also buy trailers that attach to adult bikes and tote the kids behind. Tandem bikes are also an option but can be difficult to handle with younger riders in tow.
As children get older they choose their own bikes, from BMX to cruisers to hybrids, but both Lisa and Joe said cyclists need to carefully consider where they purchase their bikes and equipment.