Launder and Press
Perhaps you’ve noticed the warmer
temperatures and longer days, children out in full force on the playgrounds, outdoor seating at restaurants…Summer is definitely in full swing, and so are we, pedaling laundry on bicycles to many of your favorite local businesses and friends.
As part of our continuing series on how all of us at Wash Cycle Laundry do what we do, we’re going to share some of our safe cycling tips for navigating the warmer weather on your bike!
Safe Cycling in the Summer:
It should be common knowledge by now that outdoor activity requires adequate hydration, but you would be amazed how often this is overlooked. We Wash Cyclists may look and act like superheroes, but we’re not immune to dehydration.
I always make sure to keep an extra bottle of filtered water in my backpack or trailer, and even take it a step further by trying to eat less “thick” or salty foods during the hotter months, opting for more fruits and lighter vegetables. Limit coffee or caffeine consumption, try to avoid soda or sugary beverages, and of course, NEVER ride a bike after consuming alcohol. Not only is your judgement impaired, but you’re also more prone to dehydration. If you feel like your mouth is dry, usually that’s an indication that you’re about a “quart low” on water. If you start to feel light-headed or disoriented in any way, pull over and seek assistance.
2. Correct Gear (Including Sunscreen)
One of my favorite parts of cycling in the Summer is that I don’t have to worry too much about extra gear (wearing layers, thicker shoes, etc). Counter-intutively, some extra rain gear for your bike IS a good idea if you ride every day. Invest in a fender or mudboard to keep rain off your front and back. A lightweight water-resistant or waterproof jacket that can be stowed in your backpack is also a good idea. I’ll also wear sunglasses and a hat under my helmet to keep the sun out of my eyes.
Speaking of the sun, I personally don’t wear sunscreen, but if you have fair skin, make sure you wear some if you plan to be out on your bike for an extended period of time. Again, people tend to forget this and don’t notice excessive sun exposure when the wind is seemingly cooling their skin. You’ll see this happen at the beach, too.
3. THINK OF THE CHILDREN!
School’s out for Summer, and so are the kids. Whether playing ball, biking, or just enjoying being outside, everyone – from motorists to cyclists – needs to be extra alert for kids in the streets. I’ve talked about pedestrians before, but children are extra special, even more unpredictable pedestrians. Keep alert and avoid distractions, because kids will be kids. This means no eating, drinking, talking on your cell phone/texting or listening to headphones (which is actually illegal).
4. Plan Your Route
I’ve mentioned before on this blog how important it is to plan your route during Winter. In Summer, it’s still important to think about, but it’s a little different. Construction and paving projects are more common this time of year, and this can cause cycling headaches due to blocked bike lanes, grated streets, debris, and the list goes on. These headaches are magnified when you have a cargo bike or trailer in tow.
So what can you (or we) do? If you don’t already, know your city inside and out by reviewing bike lane maps so that you’ll know a safe alternate route if you come upon a less-than-pleasant commute. The Philadelphia Streets Department also keeps an updated list of this year’s paving projects. There are no dates listed, but at least you can see if any roads you frequently travel are going to be closed or re-paved this year. Personally, I’m very upset that N. 16th St. through Fairmount isn’t on this list!
All planning aside, you may still encounter obstacles on the way, so the best advice is to…
5. Be Courteous and Follow the Rules
In Summer, it seems like everything is more
active, as we mentioned above. A lot of people have a lot going on, they’re in a hurry, and in most cases, they aren’t looking out for you. Aggressive maneuvers and skirting the lines of legality can put cyclists in some precarious situations, most of which can be avoided with patience and understanding. For example, did you know that bikes are allowed to use a full travel lane?
Even though school’s out, it never hurts to review biking laws. The Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia has a great primer for Philadelphia, PA and New Jersey, and the Washington Area Bicycle Association has the same for DC, Maryland and Virginia. If you’re in the know before you go, you may just save yourself from an incident this Summer.
Safe cycling, everyone!
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.