Launder and Press
Mother nature’s sense of humor aside (with the Winter-like weather we’re experiencing in the Northeast), the seasons have changed.
All things considered, this past Winter wasn’t too bad by normal standards, but our cyclists (myself included) are plenty happy that we are moving on to warmer and sunnier days. We’re ready to put our Winter cycling procedures (thankfully we didn’t need the studded snow tires!) in the rear view and focus on what lies ahead: Spring and Summer!
As part of our continuing series on how Wash Cycle Laundry delivers laundry on bikes, we’re going to share some insight into how we ready our bikes and cyclists for Spring and Summer weather, plus some tips that may be helpful to you on your own bike!
Safe Cycling in the Spring:
1. Watch Out for Pedestrians
This kind of goes without saying, but it’s something that’s easier said than done. Pedestrians are sometimes more dangerous than cars because of their unpredictability. Often, people will walk out into the street with their focus on their phones instead of what’s going on around them, ignoring traffic signals and leading to accidents. With warmer weather and more daylight, this means increased pedestrian traffic, and an increased risk of an incident.
I like to give pedestrians the benefit of the doubt, but as any cyclist who has been involved in an incident will tell you (myself included), the onus is really on us to be alert and make our presence known. Remember that the law states that all traffic must yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, regardless of how careless their actions may be. The best advice is to be alert and try to make yourself as visible as possible. Speaking of…
2. Try to Be Seen so you Don’t Make a Scene
I’ve mentioned before on this blog how important it is to have lights for riding in the dark. What I didn’t mention is the importance of blinking/flashing lights for your bike. These are crucial in twilight hours, and this time of year, twilight rides are much more common for commuters and Wash Cyclists alike. If you haven’t already invested in a light, make sure it has a standard “On” setting for night riding, as well as an intermittent “blinking” setting for dawn and dusk. These flashes of light will make you more visible to everyone, pedestrians and cars alike. In addition to lights…
3. Brighten your Wardrobe
If you’ve seen our cyclists riding around, you may have
noticed that all of our cyclist wardrobe gear is bright orange, usually of the fluorescent variety. This serves two purposes: orange happens to be one of our company colors, but more importantly, it makes our cyclists as visible as possible in not-so-bright light. Vibrant neon colors are the best, but white is also a good option too. Avoid wearing black if at all possible.
If fluorescent colors aren’t your thing, you can try adding reflective tape to your book bag, jacket or helmet. Many windbreakers already include reflective panels, which work well too.
4. Brace for Rain
April showers are here, in case you didn’t notice… We utilize rain covers for our laundry bins and provide our cyclists with rain-resistant jackets. In addition, I’ll sometimes wrap clean, dry laundry bags in plastic trash bags for an extra layer of protection. It seems so simple, but it works very well.
I stray away from the traditional rain slickers and instead have waterproofed my windbreaker with Nikwax. I find that rain slickers (and pants) are bulky and don’t breathe nearly as much as a windbreaker. I’ll have to re-apply the solution every month or so as it does wear off, but it’s very effective if executed properly, and it’s much more cost-effective than buying a space-age technology jacket. If your budget allows, by all means, go that route. You can use Nikwax on your bookbag and other gear as well.
5. Bike check!
I’ll admit that when I’m not Wash Cycling in the Winter, I don’t do very much biking outside of the 10 or so daily miles I log at work. I choose to walk to the office or take the train/bus, meaning my personal cycle sits indoors for most of the Winter months. We perform regular maintenance on our bikes all year round, but if your personal bike was sitting inside like mine, be sure to stop by your local bike shop for a checkup before heading out on a long ride. This will make sure your brakes, gears and other moving parts are still functioning properly after a long sit. Your tires could probably use a pump, too.
We’ll have more tips as the weather gets warmer. Stay connected to our blog for more, and be safe out on the road!
In addition to writing on the Wash Cycle Laundry blog, Steve Prudente is a Cycling Route Manager. He has been with Wash Cycle since October of 2014, and you can find him regularly wash cycling throughout our North Philadelphia region.