Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Four S's Of Safe Cycling

First thing's first:

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who tweeted, commented, FB'd, called, texted or sent smoke signals across the country (err...that was y'all right?) to encourage me to get back on the road. I talk a good game about being a tough, DIY chick but it never hurts to know I've got friends, family and even complete strangers that are somewhere out there rooting for me. I tip my hot pink helmet to you all.

So, after taking a few days off (per my doctor's mother's orders) from commuting, I feel more ready than ever to lube up Lil Blue and take her out again.  But before I set foot on a pedal, I needed to be sure I was going out there armed with everything I needed not only to keep myself alive but also to make myself more safe to pedestrians and motorists alike. And it's very important for me to finally get Organized—with a capital O! Hopefully this will help keep me from losing things as often as I know, like very important keys to very unbreakable locks.

Clearly, all this planning could only mean one thing: shopping.

Now if you've ever tried to pick out a bike accessory from the virtual labyrinth that is, you can probably relate to my feelings of general overwhelmed-ness.  But to help myself and hopefully others like me out a little, I streamlined my search for safety-making accessories into four easy-to-remember categories – fake drumroll please —

The Four S's of Safe Cycling: Sound, Sight, Security and Storage. 

Without further ado, check out my finds below and feel free to sound off in the comments on what you think. I love swapping notes with others on the best in bike bobbles and I'm sure it won't be long before I'm back in the market for some new finds.

1. Sound 

First and foremost, I had to replace my poor, battered bike bell. The impact from getting doored pretty much put the nail in its silent little coffin, so it's on to the next one. In a fit of ultra girliness (oh, stop yer eye-rolling), I went for this little guy by Summit. At less than the cost of a pork torta from my fave taco truck and with wings that fly open with every ring-a-ding-ding? A no-brainer if you ask me. After getting doored once, you can bet your bikes no one will ever say they didn't hear me coming again.

2. Sight
I think we can all agree that as cyclists, making sure that we're seen as surely as we're heard is one of the most important ways we can protect ourselves from accidents. My blazing hot pink outerwear is great during the day, but I depend on my tail- and headlights big time for night riding, which I do quite often.

I have a pretty dinky set now, so I decided it's time for an upgrade. Et Voila! The Knog Beetle 2-LED Light rings in at under $20 and I've seen them in action so I know they're a great light. I also love how easy they are to slip on and off.  Also, because I have one of the greatest mothers on the planet, today I received a brand new side handlebar mirror. I've never used one of these before so I'm interested to see a) whether they actually work and b) if I'll ever get used to it. Here's hoping!

3. Security 

If you've been reading for the past couple weeks or so, you know I recently had to get my U-lock sawed off after I misplaced my last spare key. You also know that after two weeks of hunting the little punk down, it wasn't until the day AFTER I saw my $50 lock get hacked to bits that I happened to find the key in my apartment. *hangs head in shame*

As much as I've kicked myself repeatedly over that little incident, time to move on. Picking a new lock was another no-brainer. While I have so clearly failed Kryptonite, the makers of the nearly unbreakable locks have yet to fail me. So of course I went for another of their super locks, although this time I opted for the smaller version of the same one I had before  — the Evolution Mini U-Lock. This guy weighs in at 2.3 lbs, a little less than half its predecessor. And I promise you as soon as I get this little sucker, I'm going straight to my comp to register the key number online. Consider that a le$$on learned. 

Also, for a bit of extra fun, and also 'cause they're cute as hell, I picked up a fun colored skin for the lock. I chose purple but they've got a handful of other colors to suit your fancy. Lil Blue's gonna be looking spiffy indeed!

4. Storage

Now, this one has been a little tricky for me. I'm a daily commuter, so that means I've always got a lot of shit to haul back and forth. I've done my best to leave some essentials at the office (spare shoes, socks, shirts, etc.) but there's always something I wind up having to lug in that presents a storage issue. I have an adorable wicker basket but it's not exactly made for city commuting, so I knew I wanted to either get a new wire basket I could take on and off or invest in a good set of panniers. (Side note: I didn't have a clue what panniers even were until I read this great post on Velojoy and found out those 'little bike sacks' I'd been looking for actually had a fancy name. Go figure!)

I wound up settling on the panniers for now. I'm pretty sure I'll get a new basket soon but I figured that could wait a while longer. I'm so excited to get them and finally get rid of the giant backpack I've been using. While Susi's recommendations on Velojoy are really amazing and look great, I just couldn't afford them right now. I went for a more wallet-friendly choice in this well-reviewed and decently priced pair from Avenir, per a friend's recommendation. He's currently pedaling the pavement in a cross-country cycling trip now so I figure his word is as good as anyone's when it comes to reliable storage. (PS: Thanks Fletch!).

Rounding out my purchases was an actual rack on which to affix my brand new panniers (I'm really starting to love that word). This universal rack by Ventura came pretty cheap at $25.95 and I like that it can fit several different frame sizes.

Also, a quick shout out to fellow lady biker Julie. She posted a quick blurb about storing keys on a carabiner attached to her basket -- such a simple solution to keeping track of them and I've started sticking to it.'d I do guys? Keep in mind I'm not the richest part-time blogger/entry level journo out there (shocker, I know) so obviously I couldn't go for the more high-end picks. But I'm really happy with my finds and can't wait to give them all a go.

Safe cycling to you all!


  1. Lil Blue must feel quite lovely, with all the new and latest accessories. Go and ENJOY!

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