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Favouring Fall

Back to School

It's September and that means critters are moving south, looking for... well, cozier places to hibernate than this spider has chosen. (He's atop one of the bike stand clamps.) It also means that all kinds of human critters are going back to school.

We talked about road safety last month and we are going to be continuing along that theme to talk about ride-to-school safety. We have a lot to cover this month so let's get to it (and I'll try to have some sense of brevity).

First of all, let's talk about the bike.

You want to be sure that the brakes and gears are in order. A tune-up is a great idea. It's also important to keep the tires inflated, especially for kids who ride up and down curbs. A curb hit on a soft tire can cause something called a pinch flat. Regularly check the pressure. While you're at it, clean and lube the drivetrain.

While we understand that schoolyards are supposed to be safe from theft, that is not always the case. Locks are also important. For the younger kids, something light they can throw in their backpacks is best. It's far more unlikely to get stolen off a grade or middle school lot than high school or university.

Keep in mind that padlocks are weak links. Combination locks are very easily pickable. The best bet is a keyed lock. Most come with three keys. That way a parental figure gets one, one gets left at home, and one goes with the bike in question.

As someone who regularly hung her backpack over one shoulder, I need to point out that this is a dangerous practice on a bike. Once upon a time, a 16-year-old Jenn was riding to a friend's place to go swimming. She was riding with friends and racing through a parking lot with her backpack over her left shoulder.

Then the world turned upside down, she stopped moving and she was suddenly staring at the sky wondering what happened.

The bag had slipped off my shoulder and found its way between my front fork and the wheel. It stopped my bike cold. I did some pretty decent soft tissue damage to my wrist, gave myself a concussion, and had to have my little brother pick rocks from my knees (I couldn't bring myself to do it. He seemed to take real pleasure in it.). Wear a bag over both shoulders, or use a cross-body bag. Do not wear it on one shoulder.

Also, tuck up long straps. You don't want to get them stuck in a wheel, derailleur or brake.

The younglings are going to be riding on the sidewalks, however, they are still going to have to cross roads. It is good practice to teach them signals while they're young (and how not to scoot through red lights like so many of us are wont to do). Because most drivers don't remember the standard arm signals, teach them to point where they're going. Make sure they know to be clear and big about the motion so drivers see them, even with a crossing guard present. Instilling good habits is never a bad thing.

Lights are also important, but we discussed that last time.

Safety should be a common sense thing. If there are cars in your path, don't go. If it's going to slide into the wheel, forks, brakes or gears, secure it. Helmets save lives...and personalities.

Here's hoping all your kids have a wonderful, safe, and successful school year.

(The remainder of the post can be found here.)

That's it for us this month. We hope to see you on the pathways, in class, and in the shop looking after your bike.

Favourite quote this month: “So, you guys are cyclists with a repair habit, eh.” — one of our regular customers

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