April 10, 2015
Cycling Vancouver in the summer rules.
This summer (like last summer) you’ll find me pedaling the Sea Wall, down 10th to the farmers market, or on the way to Budgies Burritos. Cycling transformed my commutes from a frustration to a pleasure.
Cycling is my favorite way to get around Vancouver. As the best season arrives, many more people around our city start riding again. We need to remember after an afternoon at Brassneck, safety comes first.
I am not here to tell you how to ride, I just want you to be safe out there. Even if you are in the right, you still lose in a vehicle vs bicycle accident. At best recovery will take your summer away and worst, all of the summers to follow, which your mother would hate.
So here’s what I’ve learned you can do to keep your summer plans safe and your mother happy.
1. If you love your mother, wear your helmet:
If you ride without one, you’re telling everyone else you didn’t have much to protect in the first place.
The most common complaints I hear are: It’s heavy and it’s ugly. The first I can help with. On The Rivet on Broadway offers a great selection of helmets that are comfortable and very, very light. I am currently using Catlike’s Tako in black. It’s simple design and the lack of the color helps keep it stylish.
If helmet hair is keeping you from wearing one I’d suggest a better hairstyle.
If that’s not an option, I’d suggest packing a hat or some hair product in your bag.
2. If you love your mother, lose the headphones.
Ugh. This one was hard to me to give up. Word’s can’t describe the feeling of your favourite song in your ear as you pedal along next to the ocean. It’s super dangerous though.
The obvious loss of the ability to hear your surroundings is dangerous enough, but it’s only part of the issue. Great music takes you somewhere else mentally. For example My Girls by Animal Collective takes me on a journey musically and lyrically. Basically my mind is dancing and if something goes weird on my ride I will be on a journey over my handlebars before I know something’s going on.
3. If you love your mother, ride with lights and reflectors.
My mom wants me to wear a visi-vest (the neon orange vests worn by construction workers and crossing guards).
If you’re cool with that, that’s really cool. I want to balance style and safety so I’ve gone a different route. Lights and secretly reflective clothing. I ride with Chrome’s Strom Truk Shoes and Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket, with a subtle reflective strips and waterproofing, they’re perfect for Vancouver.
4. If you love your mother, stick to the bike routes.
This is the point where you need to be really honest with yourself. Are you ready to bike safely in traffic? Do you know how you will react when traffic does something you don’t expect it to? Are you being pushed in to Door Zone?
If you answered No to any of those question you may not be ready to ride in medium to high traffic areas. That’s okay, you’re still have a right to enjoy cycling as much as someone who is riding in those areas. You should just plan your route accordingly.
Use this map to finding the bike routes around the city that will be the safest way to get where you need to.
5. If you love your mother, love your bike too.
The most neglected part of bicycle safety is the bike itself. Does your bike stop shifting to 6 of your 12 gears? You still have 6 left, what’s the big deal, right?
The big deal is your bike is broken and if gives up while you’re moving or performs in a way you’re not used to there’s a way higher chance that you’ll end up off of it.
Whew, done! I feel better.
These tips will help keep you dancing, dining and cycling all summer long. There are tons of other ways you can keep safe and stylish this summer while riding though. I’ll toss a list at the end here.
Until next time,
Stay safe, stay cool.
Other ways to stay safe
- Wear denim (It looks super cool and will protect you a bit if you do bail)
- Ride in groups
- Lock your bike (Losing it mid-season will cause lasting emotional damage)
- By your partner gifts on your rides
- Use your hand signals correctly
- Eat donuts to emotionally prepare
- Learn bike maintenance at OCB
- Join a cycling community (Cycling BC is a great place to start)