Tour de MSU Campus 2015 – Inaugural fun, slow, social ride

Lansing Bike Party

Lansing Bike Party members riding on one of the new bike lanes on campus on W. Circle Dr. by IM Circle/ Music Bldg., summer 2013.

Join your fellow MSU bicyclists on Wednesday, May 13th, 2015, for a fun, slow, social ride around campus to see all the newer bike-friendly facilities that have been installed in the past year or two that everyone might not know about. We’ll start at the Spartan Statue (Kalamazoo and Chestnut) at noon and stop occasionally to look and talk about different features.  This will be a good opportunity to discuss challenging aspects and features we ride past that remain for MSU to progress towards a gold and someday a platinum Bike Friendly University award. No RSVP or registration required; just show up and ride!

Click here for the event poster/ flyer (PDF) for posting in your work place, cafe’s etc.

Poster for MSU Bike Week events

Poster for MSU Bike Week events

Click here to learn about the 3rd Annual MSU Bike to Work/ Campus Breakfast on May 15th, 2015, which is also National Bike to Work Day.


May is Natl. Bike Month!
May is National Bike Month!

It’s the official kickoff to the bicycling season.  If you’re looking for materials to help promote bicycling in your work place the League of American Bicyclists have got a bunch of stuff here.


Sparty on bike - Beaumont Tower

National Bike Challenge Starts May 1!

Calling all MSU bicyclists! It’s time to start warming up for the National Bike Challenge again. If you’ve never participated in the past, it’s very easy to join the fun.  You’ll be eligible for great prizes and get to see how your miles compare to others at MSU and around the country!  Be sure you’re registered under MSU as your school and then our miles will all be counted together! (We don’t have a Team MSU per se as there are limits on how big a team can be and other logistical headaches) Here’s MSU’s summary/ profile: https://nationalbikechallenge.org/school/6394

3rd Annual MSU Bike to Work & Campus Breakfast

Poster for MSU Bike Week events

Poster for MSU Bike Week 2015 events

Mark your calendars for Friday, May 15, 8 am – 9:30 am, National Bicycle to Work Day, for our 3rd Annual Bike to Work – Campus Breakfast to honor and recognize those who bicycle to work/ campus and celebrate bicycling as an important part of MSU’s Bike Month activities.   Join us for a free breakfast in the large private dining room of the Brody Square Cafeteria.  Just give your name and the event name at the register.

Enjoy free bicycle valet parking provided by Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council just outside the main entrance to Brody Hall.

Mid-MEAC's Valet Bike Parking crew

MSU Bike to Work/ Campus Day 2013 – Mid-MEAC’s Valet Bike Parking crew (Brandon and Julie Powers in purple shirts) w/ Tim and Lauren Olson of MSU Sustainability.

There is a limit of 56 people for the room so please RSVP using this form. There is a short survey on the RSVP form which we hope will allow us to have some interesting data to share during the breakfast regarding our attendees and their bike commuting.

We’re lining up speakers now and looking for volunteers to sit on a panel discussion.  There will again be raffle prizes.

News:  We’ve confirmed one of our speakers, Dr. Greg Holzman, who’s heading up the Healthy Campus Initiative, which is a program of the Provost.  HCI is assisting with pulling together all stakeholders on campus to develop some effective ways to improve the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians on the MSU Campus.  We’ll get an update on that initiative.

Download the PDF version of the poster for printing and hanging in your work place to help promote the events.

Click here to go to MSU’s inaugural Tour de MSU Campus information.

Free food!

Free food! Yummm!


May is National Bike Month!

May is Natl. Bike Month!
It’s the official kickoff to the bicycling season.  If you’re looking for materials to help promote bicycling in your work place the League of American Bicyclists have got a bunch of stuff here.


National Bike Challenge Starts May 1!

Sparty on bike - Beaumont Tower
Calling all MSU bicyclists! It’s time to start warming up for the National Bike Challenge again. If you’ve never participated in the past, it’s very easy to join the fun.  You’ll be eligible for great prizes and get to see how your miles compare to others at MSU and around the country!  Be sure you’re registered under MSU as your school and then our miles will all be counted together! (We don’t have a Team MSU per se as there are limits on how big a team can be and other logistical headaches)

We’re Hiring a Head Mechanic

We’re hiring a head mechanic! Here’s your chance to work for one of the premier university bike programs that started in 2006.  We’re one of only a handful of bike shops owned and operated by a university.  We’re located in the center of campus with a bike population in excess of 20,000.

See details here: http://bikes.msu.edu/?page_id=859

Some pics of our Center below in case you’ve never visited:

DIY Bike Repair Stations and Resources at MSU

Needing to put a little air in your bike tires, fix a flat tire or do a minor adjustment?  Well, if you’re on campus you’re in luck!

2015 MSU Bike map showing DIY stations

2015 MSU Bike map showing DIY stations along with other bike related facilities

This map shows you where you can soon find eight do-it-yourself bike repair stations on campus and further below are some photos showing you what they look like so you can recognize them.  (Two stations [Brody complex and Akers/ Hubbard area – exact locations TBD] are due to be installed in April)

The five newest stations (made by Bike Fixtation) being installed in the five residential neighborhoods were purchased and installed thanks to donors, Rick Brown and Kathy Donahue-Brown through the Brown-Hoover Charitable Trust (established by Rick’s mother and stepfather, Carroll Brown Hoover and James Hoover).  This State News article gives more information about the newest stations.

You can also view a video showing how these stations can be used here.

There have been three Dero-brand stations on campus for a while and have proven very popular.  There is one outside the MSU Bikes Service (installed 2008) and one inside each MSU Bike Garage (secure bike parking facilities –  details here).

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Is there a special bike in your life needing TLC?

So, is there a special bike in your life that’s been languishing in your garage or basement waiting for that day to get back on the road? Perhaps it was involved in a crash and you bent the frame or forks and figure it’s a goner? Well, we’ve got good news for you! Our mechanics would love to bring your pride and joy back to life in time for Valentine’s Day or other special occasion for you or your loved one.

Bring your bike in now for a free estimate; you’ll beat the spring rush and
your bike will be in tip-top shape when the warmer weather arrives!

Over the years we’ve done some very nice renovations.  For example, here are some before-and-after photos of a 70’s vintage Schwinn 3-speed – from garage-hanger to beautiful city bike!


… and a couple videos of our mechanics straightening a “goner” frame giving it new life.

Bike frame-repair part 1

Bike frame-repair video, part 1

Bike frame-repair video, part 2

Bike frame-repair video, part 2

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Thoughts on Bike Lights

Momentum article "Bike Lights"

Momentum article “Bike Lights” Sept/Oct. 2010 issue; click to view online.

After reading the excellent “Bike Lights” article in Momentum’s Sept/Oct 2010 issue by Jonathon Reynolds which shares some research on when/where most bike accidents occur, I’d like to comment on the topic.

There’s a common misconception that you only need lights when it’s dark or getting dark.  Due to almost getting hit in the middle of the day by a driver, whom I believe simply didn’t see me in the dark shadows of a tree (some people’s eyes don’t adjust very quickly to extreme lighting changes), I have since strongly encouraged people to use flashing lights, front and rear, whenever they ride and not just when it’s getting dark. There’s a good reason why many newer motor vehicles have lights that come on automatically whenever the engine is running; they’re called “Daytime Running Lights”.  While US car manufacturers have effectively lobbied against requiring them many European countries have enacted legislation requiring them on motor vehicles while at least one, Germany, requires front and rear lights be working at all times on bicycles.

Don't be a Ninja on a bike!

Don’t be a Ninja cyclist! Be SEEN and LIVE! Click image to learn more from the Tempe AZ Bicycle Action Group.

Additionally, people should definitely stick with lights that have easily rechargeable batteries or USB rechargeable so that they’re more likely to use the lights all the time rather than trying to conserve batteries.  We stock many affordable lights at MSU Bikes and can special order just about any other light on the market.

Finally, I see way too many cyclists riding around with lights that are hardly visible, or hanging off a backpack often pointing to the ground, apparently thinking “I’ve got a light, I’m safe”, but apparently have no idea how invisible they are.  I’m not sure if it’s the nature of rechargeable batteries or the modern LED lights, but it’s also best to have backup lights on the rear and front as I’ve had them look bright at the start of my commute home only to discover they died sometime during my ride.

So, be sure to check your lights often and recharge or replace those batteries to stay alive!  And make sure they’re aimed properly down the road so they’re actually visible to motorists.

almost-all-lights

Selection of strong widely available tail lights. click for excellent review of tail lights. We stock many affordable lights at MSU Bikes.

Our 2014-2015 Holiday Schedule

Santas on bikesOur shop will be closed from December 20th through January 4th , 2015 for the university holidays.

We’ll be open again on Monday, January 5th.


Until then our mechanics are caught up and turning around repair work rapidly.  Consider bringing in your bikes now rather than waiting til spring like everyone else!  Avoid the long lines in the spring!

Click here to read more about the magic our mechanics can work on older bikes in bringing them back to life.

Lovely 70's Schwinn 3-speed brought back to life

Lovely 70’s Schwinn 3-speed brought back to life

Sidewalk Bicycling vs. Bike lanes – the debate rages on

Joy ride on the newly updated MSU S. River path

Joy ride on the newly updated MSU S. River path. Click pic for video.

There’s been considerable press in the State News and discussion this fall (2014) about bike safety and rules after some pretty serious accidents earlier in the semester and the subsequent launch of the MSU Police bike/ pedestrian safety campaign.  Was even included in an Impact 89FM radio show with a MSU Police officer (Randy Holton) who coordinated the aforementioned campaign earlier this week (our part of the show starts at 18:45 (have to download the show and open w/ Windows Media Player or other player to see the time).

All of this has caused me to reflect on where we’re at as a university in terms of improving bike and pedestrian safety; are we becoming a more ‘Bike Friendly University‘? MSU received a bronze BFU award in 2011, but what has changed over the past 4 years?

 

S. River Path near Erickson Kiva, summer 2012

Photo of the chaos during class change on S. River Path near Erickson Kiva, summer 2012.  Click pic to watch a video of bike/ped chaos from 2012 at Shaw and Farm Ln.

Well, on the visibly obvious front, we’re up from approx. 50% of our campus roads having bike lanes in 2010 to over 70% today which is phenomenal progress considering we had NO on-road bike lanes in the year 2000 when the university made the decision to adopt what has become known as a “Complete Streets” policy for campus roads (CS is now fully incorporated into our current Campus Master Plan).  MSU opened its first “complete street” at the end of the summer: W. Circle Dr.  After a massive construction project over last summer it’s now completely safe and designed for ALL legal road users!

Casual observations along the corridors where the bike lane network is almost complete (Wilson Rd. for example) and wherever bike lanes exist, make it clear that if we build them bicyclists will start to use them.  We’ve also started adding “Sharrow” markings (aka ‘shared lane bicycle marking’) on roads where there’s not currently enough width for bike lanes (see this video that was produced fall of 2013 to inform the community of these new markings).

The most recent example of physical progress: there was a hugely successful safety improvement to our campus transportation system benefiting both pedestrians and bicyclists completed in late summer 2014.   A video I created, MSU Bicycling on Unmarked Sidewalk vs Newly Redesigned River Path” shows off the benefits and real life on the newly updated S. River path; you’ll quickly see the difference between riding on a crowded sidewalk vs. the new path.  With this segment of the S. river pathway completed only one more large segment is left needing the updating to this new, safer design; the path between Farm Ln. and Bogue St.  (More photos, including before and after construction, can be viewed here)

Bicycling in the road vs. sidewalk

Like riding slow and stopping all the time?  Sidewalks are for YOU!  Want to get somewhere faster than walking?  Ride in the road!  Click pic for video.

A companion video features the readily and quickly obvious benefits to riding in a bike lane on the road vs. riding on crowded, disorganized and chaotic sidewalks: Riding in a Bike Lane vs. Sidewalk Bicycling at MSU”.

Bear in mind that the benefits & advantages of riding in the road continue even on roads without bike lane markings.  Bicyclists also have a legal right to ride in the road and a legal responsibility to ride in the road (WITH the direction of traffic, AND obeying the same traffic rules as other legal road users) NOT on the sidewalks on campus.

Yes, we’ve still got plenty of work to do on campus (as this video of pedestrians and bikes mixing it up at Farm Ln. and S. Shaw Ln. shows).  There are some critical roads on campus without bike lanes remaining which abruptly start and stop; they’ll be getting bike lanes, or in some cases, closed to motor vehicle traffic altogether assuming the university’s 20/20 Vision continues to be the guiding document for the coming years.

Read our “Bike Safety Tips” post for a lot more information about this important topic to help greatly reduce your chances of being involved in a crash.

Stay tuned for more progress reports on our ‘Bike Friendliness’.

Winter Cycling Tips & Information

Cycling in the winter (yes, it’s here!) can be full of challenges and yet also very gratifying if you’re prepared.  Wet and slippery conditions, poor lighting, distracted drivers, and cold temperatures can all make your ride more difficult but they also make your driving more difficult and dangerous as well, right?  You don’t need to put your bike away until spring, however. Read on for tips on how to make winter riding more enjoyable and safer.

If you’re just not interested in riding through the winter, do your bike a big favor and store it indoors where it won’t get all rusted, stolen or vandalized (or accidentally hit by a snow plow).  MSU Surplus offers storage services for bikes (and just about anything else for that matter!).  Click here for more information.  Many residence halls also have indoor bike rooms which are first-come first-serve, so check with your hall’s front desk and see if you can get a key for yours.

Here are some photos of one of our year-round bicyclists, Thomas Baumann, showing off his bike, accessories and related gear.  More tips and information further below.

Tim's winter bike

Tim’s winter bike

Pics of Tim’s latest winter bike, an early ’80s Schwinn Sierra mountain bike, can be seen here.  ’80’s MTBs make perfect winter bikes for many reasons:  they’re quite cheap, they’re made like tanks (that is, to survive brutal treatment and extreme conditions), they have lots of room around the tires to allow for full coverage fenders and studded tires!

Stay Upright, Be Seen and Live

Winter is a hazardous time to be on the roads for everyone, not just bicyclists.  Falling snow, ice on windshields, fogged up windshields, blinding glare,  low lighting etc. will also dramatically affect the ability of motorists to see you.  Drivers may also be distracted by poor road conditions, phones, etc.  Assuming that drivers don’t see you is a good attitude any time of the year no matter whether you ride in the road (with or without bike lanes) or on the sidewalks/ paths.  Here’s a great article w/ more tips for riding safely in snowy conditions (courtesy Bike Arlington).

Be safe, be seen!

Be safe, be seen! Tim wears a safety vest in addition to using lights in case his batteries burn out and for increased visibility from all directions.

So you need to be sure you’re highly visible.  Although lights and bright clothing are recommended year round, they are especially critical during winter months. Use a flashing white light on your handlebar and a flashing red light on your back or seat-post to draw attention to yourself.  Here is a series of articles comparing the brightness and run-time of different headlights and tailights (many of which we stock here; most we can order), and another new article re: updating older taillights with modern LED bulbs (in case you have an older bike using incandescent bulbs). Remember to also ride responsibly and intelligently.  Bicyclists get full legal protection as a vehicle of the road when they’re riding on the road and behaving according to the laws/ rules of the road (e.g., riding your bike through a pedestrian crosswalk is NOT protected).  Assuming that drivers don’t see you is a good attitude any time of the year no matter whether you ride in the road (with or without bike lanes) or on the sidewalks/ paths.  Falling snow, ice on windshields, fogged up windshields, etc. will also dramatically affect the ability of motorists to see you.

Stay Upright with Studded Tires:

Studded tires can be very helpful for keeping you upright on icy roads. They can be expensive however, so handy folks may want to consider making their own. MSU Bikes’ Tim Potter crafted a pair for his own winter commuter:

Notes on DIY studded tires:

Tim's DIY front studded tire

Tim’s DIY front studded tire – click pic for more pics of Tim’s winter bike (2012 version).

I was under the mistaken assumption that as long as I ride in a straight line and make no quick turns that I’ll be OK on ice. Well, recently I crashed on some black ice while going straight ahead. That changed my mind on studded tires immediately. I priced commercially available studded tires and found they were expensive. So, I made some myself in about one-and-a-half hours, and they work great and last longer than I expected despite what is written about non-carbide tipped studs. DIY instructions that I used can be found here.  Note: these instructions only work with tires like the one pictured as you need to have a large knob to screw into, most common on 24″, 26″ or 29’er MTB tires.  So, no, this won’t work for 700c tires as there aren’t any made with such large knobs that I know of.

Here are some top-secret tweaks to those instructions: I screwed #6 x 3/8” sheet metal screws (a box of 100 costs $5 from a good hardware store) from the outside in, just like in the instructions, and then used an old tire carcass (after cutting off the beads — use a smooth tread tire) to line the inside of the tire to cover up the protruding tips to protect the tube (be sure and overlap the tire liner by 1/2″ at least to cover all the sharp points).  While this modification makes the wheels quite a bit heavier, it provides another great benefit: the tires are now effectively “run-flats.” Since there’s so much rubber inside the tire, you can keep riding if you get a flat. If you can find #4 x 1/4” screws, you probably won’t need a liner.

Another option for even better traction consider Kold Kutter ice screws, which motorcycle ice racers have used for years; they come in a small 3/8″ size for only $20 and change through College Bike Shop, Lansing or any good motorcycle shop I’m sure.  Remember: In the winter, you’re not trying to break speed records as much as stay alive!

Bar Mitts keep your hands toasty warm but allow you to use thinner gloves to work your controls better.

Bar Mitts keep your hands toasty warm but allow you to use thinner gloves to work your controls better. 
‘Borealis’ lobster gloves from Planet Bike

Stay Comfortable

It’s cold out there. Winter air stings eyes and turns fingers into meat popsicles. Sloppy road slush tends to end up all over pantlegs and backsides.

Don’t arrive at your destination soaking wet and half frozen. Fenders come in full coverage models and easy to attach clip-on models. Some rear fenders are designed with quick-release attachments that don’t require tools for installation. For your hands, try a pair of “lobster” gloves or mittens.  The three or four fingered design helps retain body heat and keep your digits warm. Many cyclists also find ski or chem-lab goggles helpful in keeping the cold air out of their eyes.

Keep Your Equipment in Working Order

A properly locked U-lock

Keep the opening to the lock mechanism facing down to reduce rusting and freezing of the lock.

Rusted and frozen parts are one of the most common issues we see in the shop during the winter. Moisture inside cable housing can cause freezing and corrosion, which results in poor brake and shift performance. Water in locks can cause them to freeze shut resulting in locks that can’t be opened or keys snapping off.

Tri-flow oil - great for chains and lubricating many other parts of a bike

Tri-flow oil – great for chains and lubricating many other parts of a bike. Pedros Syn-Lube - excellent for wet,freezing conditions of winterPedros Syn-Lube – excellent for wet,freezing conditions of winter

Pick up a bottle of wet lubricant that’s designed for bicycles. (WD-40 is not a lubricant. Try TriFlow or better yet, Pedro’s Synlube which stays on longer in wet, cold conditions). Chains need to be lubed frequently during wet months. You can also drip the lube down inside cable housing to restore functionality to frozen brake and shift systems.

When locking your bike, point the keyhole of your lock toward the ground to prevent to prevent rust and ice forming inside.  A squirt of chain lube into the lock cylinder will help prevent freezing and result in smoother operation.  If you find your lock frozen use some hot water, coffee or tea and pour it slowly over the lock mechanism to thaw it enough to open it up, then be sure and dry it out with a hair dryer and then lube it to prevent it from freezing or rusting in the future.

Covered Enhanced Security Indoor Bike Parking/ Storage Options

Bike Garage @ Trowbridge Parking Ramp

Bike Garage @ Trowbridge Parking Ramp. Holds up to 23 bikes and features a DIY repair station.

Looking for a place to lock up your bike out of the rain and snow? We’ve now got two enhanced security bike parking facilities on campus called “MSU Bike Garages”; one on the north side of campus (Grand River Parking Ramp) and one on the south side (Trowbridge Parking Ramp).  Click here to learn more about the Bike Garages.  Additionally, covered bike parking options around campus most of them inside our car parking garages. Click here to see them all.

Additionally, many of the residence halls on campus have indoor bike rooms: Holden, Wonders, Wilson, Holmes, McDonel, Akers, Hubbard, Mason/Abbot, Snyder/Phillips, Campbell, Landon, Yakeley/Gilchrist all have bike rooms (as of Nov. 2010). Inquire at your hall reception desk about using the bike rooms.  Note that the rooms use a common key so be sure and lock your bike even in these rooms.

Further Resources

More winter cycling tips and links to other sites can be found on our notes from our winter cycling class in 2010.   If you’d like to receive an email when we announce our classes this winter consider subscribing to our MSU Bikes e-newsletter here.

MSU’s Snow Removal Information

Many in the MSU community will comment on how great the sidewalks, paths and roads are in comparison to other area roads during the storms of winter.  The MSU road crew is out 24/7 to keep campus safe for everyone.  However, if you do see something on campus that needs immediate attention call the 24-hour IPF Dispatch number (517/353-1760) or email the supervisor of the snow crew: snowplan@ipf.msu.edu
If you’d like to learn more about MSU’s official snow removal policies check this page.  Here’s a short video on the topic by IPF.


What winter riding tips do you have to share?  Pls. comment on this blog with your thoughts/ tips/ advice!

(Updated and reposted by Tim Potter, 11/19/14)

Join Team MSU for Natl Bike Challenge

Team MSU - Natl Bike Challenge

MSU is ranked 3rd in Michigan among universities and 36th nationally!  Help us get to the head of the peloton!

 

It’s not too late to join Team MSU for the National Bike Challenge. You can add your miles ridden staring in May 1st retroactively very easily.  Join and help MSU get in the lead of the pack of other universities competing! https://nationalbikechallenge.org/school/6394

As of June 12, 2014 we’re #3 in Michigan, #36 among universities and #76 nationally.

Click here to join Team MSU or click on the red Join button on the team page as seen in the graphic below.  You have to first create a profile to be a part of the Challenge.  To join the MSU team make sure you put Michigan State University in the School field when creating your profile.

Team MSU - join button

Team MSU – join button

New CATA Rep for MSU Campus

Bikes and Buses safety video

Bikes and Buses safety video

As of April 30, 2014 there is a new CATA MSU campus representative, Deb Kirby.

She’s your go-to person for any CATA related issues you observe or experience on campus.  Her email:  dkirby@cata.org  and campus office phone #: (517) 432-0888

FYI: Here’s a link to a very well-done video created by the Chicago ATA that CATA has been using for their driver training.  http://vimeo.com/7949969
It’s also got very helpful advice for bicyclists to safely interact with buses, so take the time and watch it to learn more about staying out of trouble on our roads.

Note:  The painted-on bus #, location and time of day of an incident is critical as the digital bus route numbers change throughout the day.
Nervous about putting your bike on a CATA bus rack?

Using the CATA bus bike racks

Using the CATA bus bike racks

CATA has a great web page describing their bike-related services including using the bike racks on all of their buses.  Watch this (non-CATA) video to see how easy it is!  The racks in the video may be slightly different than CATA’s but it’ll give you a real good idea of how easy it is.

Bike lockers are also available for rent at the CATA Transportation Center (CTC), downtown Lansing, 420 South Grand Ave.  The units are located on the northeast side of the building.

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Bike Safety Tips & Legal Resources

Don't be a Ninja cyclist!  Be SEEN and LIVE!

Don’t be a Ninja cyclist! Be SEEN and LIVE!
Click for more info.

The most important thing when it comes to being safe on your bike is avoiding an accident, particularly ones with motor vehicles that can be very serious.  So, we want to first focus your attention on how you can best be seen while riding which is one of the things in your control and easily addressed.

Be Seen with Lights & Bright Clothing

Watch this video to understand why it’s important to stand out from your environment.  Trust me, you DON’T want to be the bear if a car driver doesn’t notice you.  Wear the brightest clothing you can find ALL THE TIME; safety-vests rock if you’d rather not flip for a new jacket.

State of MI bicyclist crash facts for 2012.

“78.9 percent of all bicyclists in motor vehicle crashes and 15 of the 20 bicyclists killed were riding during daylight hours.”  Mich. Traffic Crash Facts for 2012.

We’re also very big on good lighting for your bike, especially if you commute or ride In the road (as you should) around campus. We stock a good selection of strong headlights and rear lights to fit any budget (and can special order better ones).  A tail light is required by Michigan State Law when riding after dark, but if you ask any commuter or experienced bicyclist, they’ll advise you to run with tail and head lights (strobe is best) all day (use rechargeable batteries or the USB rechargeable type lights and you don’t have to worry about the expense of replacing batteries).

Why use lights during the day?  Well, when you ride in and out of dark shadowy areas of the roads you can become almost invisible to a motorist who’s eyes haven’t adjusted to the darkness in that split second which could cost you dearly.  A report published by the Mich. Dept. of Transportation summarizing crash statistics for 2012 are very sobering; “78.9 percent of all bicyclists in motor vehicle crashes and 15 of the 20 bicyclists killed were riding during daylight hours.” A summary of data for 2013 crashes are now available here which again found “peak hours for bicyclist involvement in crashes were from 3:00-5:59 PM”.

Picking a Safe Route

sidewalk-cyclists

Over 90% of all reported bike accidents are the result of sidewalk bicycling on the MSU campus! (courtesy of MSU Photography Services)

Choosing a safe route is probably the most important key to your safety as a cyclist. Our biggest piece of advice: Stay off the sidewalks.  Why? It is against most city ordinances to ride bikes on sidewalks (including the MSU Campus Ordinance) as it’s more dangerous for everyone including the bicyclist.  If you’re going more than 10 mph, even if there are no bike lanes, you have a legal right to ride in the road (just make sure you’re highly visible, ride in the same direction as motor vehicle traffic and follow the same rules of the road as motor vehicles).

It seems safer to ride on the sidewalks but cars just don’t check sidewalks for bicyclists when they approach a roadway to make a turn and, on our campus as with most of the cities in the State of Michigan you have NO LEGAL PROTECTION if you do get hit while riding your bike through a cross-walk as a pedestrian as you’re required to be walking your bike to be legally considered a pedestrian.  National statistics as well as our own campus research show that the overwhelming majority of bike-auto accidents occur when the bicyclist is riding on a sidewalk.

Don't be a "Salmon"!

Don’t be a bike “Salmon”! Always ride with the direction of motor vehicle traffic even if you have to ride on the sidewalk.

We’ve noticed an increase in cases of wrong-way bicycling, that is riding against traffic, particularly where there bike lanes.  This is very dangerous for both the wrong-way bicyclist and other bicyclists who have to pass such unpredictable bicyclists (aka “Salmon” after the fish who swim up river) as last minute decisions as to how to pass someone when there are no rules for such behavior can result in collisions, swerves into traffic, etc.

For more convincing graphical presentations and resources read more here courtesy of John Allen’s Bicycle Facilities, Laws and Programs pages.   From that web page:

“…riding on a sidewalk is not necessarily safer and in fact, …the risk is approximately four times that of riding on the roadway with traffic.”

Visualizing sidewalk conflicts

This graphic helps visualize all the possible sidewalk conflicts (courtesy Cycling Savvy).

If you’d like to learn more about why it’s safer to ride in the road and exactly WHERE to ride in the road you should review the great animations on this website courtesy of the Cycling Savvy folks at Commute Orlando.  This one in particular shows you where and why you should ride out in the travel lane.  This page of theirs gives a great one-page tutorial on where, how (& why) to ride safely.

Riding Safe Tips

Once you’ve got your basic safety equipment all set (see below for our recommendations), the next major area of keeping safe while you ride is how you ride and react to aggressive or clueless motorists/pedestrians/other cyclists. The Bicycle Safe website lists common types of bike-to-motorist accidents and how to avoid them. The League of Illinois Bicyclists has a video on the topic of riding safely and defensively on the roads.

If you’re interested in learning more about safe bike riding, consider taking a class from the MSU Bikes Service Center. We occasionally offer classes focused on this topic. Drop us an e-mail and get on our bike classes wait list at bikes@msu.edu.

Helmets

The Bike Helmet:  Cheap insurance.  Example of the kind of helmets we normally stock.

The Bike Helmet: Cheap insurance.

We highly recommend the use of helmets when riding around campus – or anywhere, for that matter. We had a student wearing a helmet stop by the Service Center who shared one of the simplest summaries we’ve ever heard for why wearing a helmet makes sense:”When people say ‘helmets look stupid,’ I just say ‘Would you rather look stupid or be stupid?

  • If you’re not convinced, perhaps you’d like to read some stories about helmets saving lots of lives? (presented by the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute).
  • The MSU Bike Project’s co-founder, Gus Gosselin, has his own story about how his helmet saved his life a few years back, so you don’t have to go far to know it’s worth it.
  • Here’s a great site called “Safety is Sexy” to help people see helmets as sexy (yes, sexy); has a ton of great materials, photos, videos, etc. promoting bike helmets and other bike safety issues.
  • There was a British study published back in 2006 that concluded wearing a helmet and dressing like an experienced bicyclist resulted in motorists passing closer than if you wore no helmet and especially if you appeared to be female.  There has been a lot more research published since then including some excellent lampooning of that British study; see a summary of all that here.  The summary is published by the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute.

Eye Protection

Protecting your eyes is highly recommended while you’re riding.  Use tinted during the day and clear for riding after hours or in low-light conditions. Prices range from bargain basement on up.

MSU Bike Safety Video

Check out this bike safety video that a group of MSU Communications Arts students (directed by Katelyn Patterson, they were all volunteers on this project) created for AOP bike tours done in previous years.  Using a bit of slap-stick humor hopefully makes the sometimes boring subject more entertaining.

Fenders

Using fenders will keep your tires from picking up road debris and throwing it in your eyes. Most people associate fenders with keeping water and mud off yourself, but overlook the protection they provide your eyes. We stock a good supply and variety of them.

Bells and Horns

Airzound air horn for bikes

The Airzound – a very loud horn that can be reinflated with any air pump.

Yes, we’re all about bells and horns, too. How many pedestrians, cyclists, motorists are busy talking on their cell phones or listening to their iPods or other radios? Get yourself a nice little bell for letting peds know you’re about to pass them and then consider something stronger like the AirZound Bike Horn for getting yourself noticed by motorists in no uncertain terms. We stock a good selection of bells and horns, including the AirZound.

Michigan Law, Legal assistance and case studies

The League of Michigan Bicyclists has published a very nice summary of the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code which pertains to bicycling here.  They’ve also  published a number of legal columns by two Michigan attorneys (Sarah W. Colegrove and Todd E. Briggs) who specialize in litigating bicycling-related cases. You can read those past columns and get their contact information here.

What to do when hit by a car

We have many bicyclists come into our shop having just had an accident and way too often they report not having reported the incident and telling the driver they’re OK and not getting names or anything only later to find out that they’re injured or that their bike is damaged beyond repair.  Don’t let this happen to you.

The following list is excerpted from an LMB legal column in the site referenced above.

  • Don’t admit liability by stating the accident was your fault.
  • Call the police (911 if there are serious injuries) and make a report.  (The MSU Police non-emergency number is 517-355-2222 for non life-threatening injury accidents).
  • Get driver’s contact and insurance information.
  • Get witnesses’ statements and contact information.
  • Get the officer’s precinct number and contact information.
  • Seek immediate medical treatment for injuries.
  • Report incident to your auto insurance company.
  • Report incident to your homeowners/renters insurance company.
  • Take photos of crash scene, injuries and bicycle.
  • Request copy of police report.
  • Keep folder of all crash information (notes, receipts, log, insurance information, etc.)
  • Contact an attorney to advise you of your rights.

MSU’s commitment to improving traffic safety

In 1995, MSU’s administration made the decision to make improvements to campus roads to improve traffic safety. This has resulted in a drop in automobile-related accidents that result in injuries to approximately 90 percent fewer accidents as of the 2008 accident report. As a result, not only have hundreds of potential accidents been avoided, but MSU was awarded an Outstanding Contributions to Traffic Safety Award from the Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Commission in 2006. Click here to read the award announcement.

A new campus policy calling for their construction/ addition to all new road projects was also adopted at the same time to improve bicycling safety and reduce accidents with automobiles and pedestrians. MSU is approximately 60 percent done with installing bike lanes on all campus (MSU-controlled) roads as of the end of the 2012 construction season.

The All University Traffic and Transportation Committee  advises MSU’s Chief of Police on traffic and transportation safety issues and serves as a way for the campus community to have input to the administration regarding related issues or concerns to include parking of all vehicles (motorized and non-motorized). Their Comment form is a great way to report problems or concerns on campus and now features a new mapping tool w/ the ability to upload photos w/ your submission.

Questions or suggestions for more safety information?

We’d love to add more to this page.   Have a story or a tip you’d like to share?  Comment below or contact Tim Potter at pottert@msu.edu

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