Bike safety tips from a folding biker

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Invariably, everyone grows old. That is if we’re lucky! This aging process eventually slows us down, and in doing so it causes some of us to reassess those things that were once taken for granted. One of those things is SAFETY. Another is FEAR. Having the right amount of fear is healthy. Having too much or too little of FEAR is … well, not healthy. Our safety/fear factor shifts, according to who and what we are, and rightly so if our fear factor is based on our beliefs, knowledge, experience and ability. Our views of our own safety and fear shifts as we shift.

I ride my Dahon MU P8 folding bicycle in traffic all the time. Some consider riding a bike on the same streets and avenues as trucks, buses and vans an unwise venture. It IS … *if* you can’t control your bicycle – making it go where, when and how it’s suppose to be in concert with all the other often unpredictable “movements” in what may be loosely described as a conductor-less orchestra. The trick is knowing the limits and range of your personal instrument, what it can and can’t do while amongst all the other bigger, heavier and faster members of the grand ensemble.  It’s a matter of having some skill… and a good measure of luck… or other “invisible” interventions, if you’re the sort that believes in invisible guardians appointed by the Universe to watch over us.

If the latter case applies, then riding a bicycle in traffic may be a little less stressful for you. But however you slice this pie, even the most skillful (and blessed) street traffic cyclist can have a REALLY BAD DAY, and it could happen regardless of your actions. Sometimes “stuff” just happens. Like being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or a little screw, nut or bolt working itself loose causing some part to fail, fall or get entwined with another moving part resulting in some type of mishap. Or maybe it’s someone else simply not being diligent to what’s happening and their own role in the unpredictable segment of music that you’re passing through. That’s how human interaction (and musical arrangements) often work. Unpredictably!

So we make choices. Smart choices which hopefully will minimize the chance of negative outcomes regarding those things we are able to control, affect or influence. Things like periodically making sure that our bike’s nuts, bolts, screws and other fasteners are tightened properly. Bicycle tires are in good condition and inflated to the correct psi. Wearing your helmet, if you are inclined to wear them. Not wearing any loose clothing that can be snagged, caught, grabbed or pinched by any part of your folding bike. Keeping the parts on your foldable bike that need occasional lubrication … lubricated. It just makes sense to take care of these “little” things so that they don’t turn into big things that could spoil your bike ride, day or worse.

So do the right thing. Have a healthy sense of SAFETY and FEAR about you when you ride your bike in traffic, or not ride in traffic. Keep your instrument well tuned! Safety really matters. Even on a magical folding bike like my Dahon MU-P8.

Have fun. Take care of each other. And safe cycling!

Anderson, Bronx NYC