A Letter from our Ride Coach, Tom Kissinger – Let’s be safe on the road!


Sonoma Ride - 2009Summer is in full swing and I am hoping that we are all getting in some good mileage in preparation for our upcoming JDRF rides.  I know it is hot out on the road and I am confident that you are all staying well hydrated and safe, but I thought that I would throw out some safety guidelines for both our local rides as well as all the rides that you take.

First and foremost, always wear your helmet.  I don’t care if you are riding a century or zipping down to the local ice cream store.  An accident can happen at any time.  Please protect your noggin!!

It is best to ride with a group.  Aside from the scintelating conversation and ability to cheat the wind in a pace line, there is an obvious benefit if anything happens.  Anything from a flat tire to an accident, you will appreciate having a friend along to help out.  Make sure that at least one of you has a phone along.  Certain things just cannot be fixed on a ride (like a passing thunder storm!) and the ability to call for a pickup never hurts.

When you go for a ride, let someone else know where you are planning on going and when you are planning to be back.  Particularly if you elect to ride by yourself, make sure that someone is standing by if you need assistance.

Be a safe smart rider.  It is okay to ride side by side if conditions allow.  Be aware of those conditions.  I have yet to see a situation where more than two abreast makes sense.  Please do not do it.  When a car approaches from behind, do your best to return to single file.  Make it very easy for the car to pass.

Obey all traffic rules, particularly stop lights and pedestrian crossings.  They are there for a reason!  When stopped at a traffic light or stop sign, make sure that you are not blocking traffic.  Often I see cars trying to make a right on red but are stuck behind a bicyclist planning to go straight through an intersection.  Don’t be that person.

Try your best to be polite and nice, particularly to motor vehicles.  Remember that you are out having fun on your bicycle.  Motorists are probably not out for a pleasure cruise.  They are in more of a hurry than you are.  Do not antagonize motor vehicle drivers.  If you run into an aggressive motorist, do NOT try to teach them a lesson.  Bicycles always lose in direct interactions with cars.

Make sure to keep yourself visible and communicate with your group.  Wear bright colors when you ride, particularly if you are riding in the evening.  If you are approaching a recently parked car, be aware that the driver may open the car door in front of you.  Use your voice to alert drivers approaching intersections and communicate with your fellow riders if you are making any sudden maneuvers like slowing suddenly for some reason.  If you see a car approaching, let your fellow riders know (“Car back,” “car right” or some similar call).  When passing someone let them know as well (“on your left”).

No matter what happens on the road, remember that your safety and that of the group that you are riding with depends on you.  Be aware, ride smoothly, communicate effectively and obey all traffic rules.  You are an ambassador of the riding community.  Colorado is relatively bike friendly.  Let’s keep it that way!

I look forward to another safe happy riding season.

Tom Kissinger
JDRF Rocky Mountain Ride Coach