Williams, Walsh & O'Connor, LLC

Start thinking now about spring and summer bike safety

While it's likely that Mother Nature will send us another taste of the winter with more snow over the next few weeks, the official start of spring is here. The end of winter means different things to different people. For many people in Connecticut, spring means that it's finally time to bring the bike back out of storage.

If you're planning to get back on a bicycle this spring, you should also take a little time to think about how to keep yourself safe when you're biking. Whether you ride for recreation on weekends, for exercise in the evenings or for your daily commute all week, focusing on safety when getting ready for the warmer seasons is always a smart decision.

Spring is the perfect time for maintenance

Before you go for a ride, make sure your bike is in top condition. Your bicycle is only as good as its wheels, so you need to check your tires carefully. Fill the tires if they are low and check them daily for several days to ensure there are no slow leaks.

You should also check that your wheels turn freely. Lift one end of the bike and spin the tire. It should spin straight, without any rubbing or wobble. Replace bent rims and tighten any loose spokes.

Your brakes are safety-critical, so make sure to check them. Depress one brake lever, and check to make sure both sides of the brake engage. Tighten the brakes if necessary and replace broken or damaged brake cables and pads. You don't want them to fail while you're out biking. You should also inspect the derailleurs, chain and safety gear like lights or reflectors.

Take time to reacquaint yourself with local and state rules

Bikes share the road with bigger vehicles and share trails with pedestrians. It's important to know and follow all laws regarding passing, turning and appropriate places to bike. For example, you should ride as far right on a road or path as is safe in your opinion. If you don't remember Connecticut's bike laws, now is a good time for a refresher course.

Complying with bike traffic laws makes it easier to communicate with other people when biking. It also reduces the risk of a collision with either a pedestrian or another vehicle.

Hope for the best, but plan for the worst

Hopefully, you will never have to experience any kind of bike-related accident. You shouldn't let safety worries keep you from enjoying two-wheeled transportation. But make sure you know what to do if you get into a cycling accident. Also, now is a great time to invest in safety equipment.

A good, well-fitting helmet, lights and reflectors for your bike are the most important pieces of safety gear. Wearing a helmet on a bike is legally required for children under 16. For adults it is optional, but it's the best way to reduce your risk of a disabling brain injury if you get into an accident.

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