UCLA's Bike Week festivities may have come to an end, but National Bike Month is still in full swing. As an academic institution, we’re all about instilling the ABCs, and this is the perfect occasion for a refresher course on the nuts and bolts of bike safety. Whether you’re fresh off the training wheels or a long-distance cyclist, it never hurts to study up.
A is for air. Check the tire pressure. Use a pressure gauge to insure proper pressure. In a pinch a quick squeeze with your fingers can work. Tires should be inflated to the rated pressure noted on the sidewall (pounds/square inch). Spin the wheels and check for any cuts or damage too.
B is for brakes. Take a look at the hand brakes by lifting the bike up, spinning one wheel and squeezing the brake level to make sure the tire stops. Check the coaster, or back pedal brakes, by spinning the back wheel and applying the brake. Brake pads need to be clean, straight and make proper contact with the rims.
C is for cranks, chain and cassette. Grab the crank arms, the part of the bike on which the pedals are attached, and wiggle side to side. There should be no movement. Make sure the chain isn’t dry, rusty or excessively greasy or dirty. The chain should be straight and the crank and pedals tight and secure.
Quick Release: Quick-release hubs need to be tight, but not too tight; quick-release brakes, which are opened when removing or installing wheels, need to be in the closed position and quick-release seat clamps need to be in the right position. And, make sure your seat is the correct height.
Check: Take a slow brief ride to check that your bike is working properly.
Inspecting your bike for mechanical safety is something that should be done before every ride.
Here are some additional guidelines for safely sharing the road: obey all traffic regulations, ride in a straight line and avoid weaving, never ride against traffic and remember pedestrians have the right of way on walkways. Beware the “right hook” by waiting in the designated right turn lane and watching for vehicles also turning and heading into the intersection and avoid the “door zone” by staying 3 to 4 feet away from parked cars. Always pay attention to your surroundings and remember to use hand signals and make eye contact with others.