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Back-to-School Bike Safety Tips

Summer is winding down, and for many students this means that classes are about to start back up in full swing (if they haven’t already!). If you will be riding your bike to class, here are some important tips to remember to help keep you and those around you safe as you start back to school.

1. Inspect your bike. This is always a good tip, but it’s especially important if you haven’t been riding as much during the summer. Be sure to check the brakes, tires, wheel alignment, seat, handlebars, axle nuts and bearings, and your bike chain. Adjust, replace, or tighten things as necessary. If you aren’t sure how to do this, stop by Ozone or any of the other local bike shops and ask them help you.

2. Stay aware of traffic and traffic pattern changes. If you’ve been riding your bike over the summer, you may have gotten used to a different traffic pattern. Remember that traffic might be busier than normal at certain locations or times of day now that school is back in session.

3. Remember your lights. Days will be getting shorter now, and a class that starts in daylight might not end until after dark. Or maybe you’ll need to have a late-night study session. No matter why you end up out after dark, remember to make sure that your bike is equipped with lights. Also remember to bring extra batteries, brightly colored clothing, and reflective gear for those late night or early morning rides.

4. Always carry your books and other items in a bicycle carrier or backpack. Keep your hands free at all times! Remember, the hands-free ordinance applies to bicyclists too!

5. Don’t let your bike get stolen! While you’re in class, be sure to lock your bike while it’s parked. Buy a good quality lock, and lock your bike through both the frame and the wheel. While any lock can be broken with the right tools, a thief is less likely to go to more extreme efforts to break a lock in a crowded area. You can register your bike through BikeUT and the APD which can help get your bike returned if it is stolen. Also, be sure not to leave your bike parked on campus overnight.

SXSW on Two Wheels – Quick Tips for Bikes

It’s that South-by time of year again in Austin and with the great music, speakers and all of the parties comes gridlock and street closures making two-wheeled transportation your best option for quickly navigating your way to the most events. Here’s a few quick pointers to make cycling around the city during a festival easier.

1) If you don’t have a bike, there’s always the new, shiny B-cycles rentable at multiple stations downtown. There’s also a variety of rental options (check out AustinPost’s list here) and SXSW badge holders have access to Tern folders.

2) Accessorize. Lights and lock are required, helmet is a good idea and a bell can be useful for alerting the sea of pedestrians and cars that come with downtown during SX.

3) Keep an eye out for those aforementioned cars and pedestrians, they’re not always looking for you.

4) Stay off the sidewalks. We know, its tempting to take off past the gridlock, but sidewalks can be more dangerous than the bike lanes.

5) Signal, signal and yield. People are everywhere downtown, let them know what you’re doing by signaling and yield to the pedestrians.

6) Try to stick to bike-friendly routes. North to south has Nueces, Speedway through the Capital to Congress and San Jacinto. Keeping a few blocks south of 6th to travel east/west is usually slightly less crowded and there’s an easy bike-path crossing under I-35 by the Convention Center on 4th.

7) Lock up every time you leave your bike. There are a lot more bike racks downtown than in previous years – use them. Watch for no bike parking signs because sometimes they’ll remove your bike.

8) Go slow. No matter your wheels, it’s slow going but biking is still faster than walking or driving. The faster you go the harder it is to dodge the power partier on their cell phone stepping directly in your path.

9) Don’t ride drunk. You CAN still get a ticket for impairment on a bicycle. Plus it’s just not a good idea. Play it safe and take a pedicab instead.

10) Wanna get downtown and walk? Motorcycle parking is always free downtown, if you can find a space and CapMetro has several stops along key SX zones.

Have fun, ride safe and remember, CyclistLaw – we’ve got your back.

Need a last-minute gift for your cyclist or pedestrian friends and family?

Five gift ideas to keep your friends and loved ones safe on the road

Still looking for the perfect last-minute gift? Here are five holiday gift ideas perfect for those friends and family members whose preferred mode of transportation is not always a car!

Vespertine Haute Réflecture reflective clothing
Price: Varies

One of the best things about this gift is its versatility. Reflective clothing is useful for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcycle riders, or anyone else who might not be clearly seen on a road in the dark of night. Vespertine offers a range of reflective tops, vests, jackets, dresses, accessories, belts, and even jewelry. Most of the reflective materials surpass the ANSI and EN 471 regulations, so wearers can be seen in a car’s headlights from up to 2,000 feet away. Even better, these clothes are made with eco-friendly fabrics, and they are all made in the USA.

Bike2Power hub-mounted USB charger
Price: $119

This handy gadget allows bicycle riders to charge their USB devices while they ride, including smart phones. It fits most existing bicycles and can be installed on the front or the rear wheel. It can also be switched from bike to bike.

Serfas Thunderbolt USB headlight
Price: $45

This USB-rechargeable light can be mounted almost anywhere on the front of a bicycle. It puts out up to 90 lumens, and it has run times ranging from 1.25 hours (high) to 7.5 hours (low flashing). It also comes in eight different colors.

TiGr® Bow-Locks™
Price: $124.99-$199.99

This bicycle lock is simple, light, and easy to store when not in use. It is also highly resistant to lock picks, bolt cutters, and sawing.

Price: $29

Stemrack can be attached quickly to a bicycle to securely hold just about any type of handheld device, including phones, iPods, and GPS devices. With the new hands-free law going into effect in Austin in January, this is a must-have for cyclists!

Bike Safety Tips for Riding in the Rain

Rainy day bicycle safety tips

Bike Safety Tips for Riding in the RainAustin is a great place to live, and many residents choose to take advantage of the ease of biking to many of the places that they might need to go. However, when it rains (as it has so much recently!), riding a bicycle can become much more hazardous, not to mention more uncomfortable for the rider!

Even so, there are many ways to make to make riding your bicycle in the rain a safer and much more pleasant experience. For instance:

• Light up that bike! If people can’t see you, then you stand a much greater chance of being hit. Rain and the resulting glare will reduce motorists’ vision, so be sure to put LED lights on your seatpost and handlebars. You might also consider an LED light that flashes red or a rechargeable lighting system.

• Remember to take additional safety measures when conditions are wet. Your tires will be more likely to slide out when you turn, and your braking distance will be shorter. Leather brake shoes might help reduce slippage and allow you to stop more quickly in the rain. Also watch out for painted lines on the road, which might be slicker than other parts of the pavement, and other hazards such as leaves, manholes, puddles, or any other danger that might be lurking in the road.

• Reduce your speed! It’s harder to avoid hazards in the rain, and it’s better to get to your destination a little later in one piece than to risk unnecessary injury to yourself or others.

• Use a heavier chain lube to help prevent rusting. There are some that are made especially for wet conditions.

• Be sure you have fenders over your front and rear tires. You can even cut strips from old water bottles and attach them to your fenders to make them longer!

• Consider buying a seat cover. It will help protect your bike, and it may increase your personal comfort as well!

• Buy a rain bike. If you’re going to be riding in the rain often, you may want to invest in a bike that you don’t mind exposing to more hazardous weather conditions. You may even have an older bike lying around that you can dedicate for rainy-day riding, thus saving your favorite bike from exposure to the elements.

• Choose appropriate clothing if you know in advance that you might be riding in the rain. You can wear a cycling cap under your helmet to help protect your head. Also be sure that you have a good cycling jacket. Being waterproof may not be enough-be sure the jacket also has some breathability. Also remember that normal raincoats may be too long to safely wear while riding. You can also cover your shoes to help keep the rain off your feet. They sell waterproof shoe covers, but you might be able to achieve the same result with a plastic bag and a little bit of crafting!

• Be aware that rain may reduce your range of vision, especially if you wear glasses that might get wet or foggy. You can help prevent this by purchasing a specialty helmet, or you could even try your hand at making your own visor out of an old soda bottle!

Following these tips can help you ride more safely and comfortably in inclement weather. However, if you are injured while riding your bicycle, contact Shefman Law.

Drowning Injuries

5 Summer Safety Tips for Water

If you’ve been on Facebook recently you might have read about a new product to help prevent tragic drowning deaths. The iSwimband is a Bluetooth enabled device that lets parents and caregivers know if a swimmer has been underwater too long or if a child that’s not supposed to be in the water has fallen in by accident. While this new piece of technology is a great tool, there are many other ways to protect children and others in the water.

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