Bike Safety with Bike Easy
Bike Easy is a non-profit organization which works to make bicycling easy, safe and fun in Greater New Orleans. We sat down with our Community Education Manager, Keith Holt, to discuss how to ride a bike safely.
Keith has been working at Bike Easy close to three years as the Education Manager, and his experience speaks for itself. “I’ve been working as a paid bike advocate since 2003. I’ve worked in other cities like Chicago and Milwaukee before coming to New Orleans. I’ve seen a lot of different things about biking and safety over the years. I’m really excited to be here in New Orleans working to make biking safer and helping it grow.”
So, what keeps Keith motivated to continue bike safety education and advocacy? “That's a good question. I do this because I simply love what I do,” he responded. “I have always cared about the community wherever I live. Helping to make biking better is one key thing I can do for the community.” Keith says he personally puts so much into bicycling and bicycle safety because of his love for biking. His vision of communities with healthy and safe bike networks motivates him every day.
Greater New Orleans is an amazing place to ride a bike. Easy and fun bike paths can be found in City Park, Tammany Trace and along the levees. As Education Manager, Keith knows riding properly is the best way to prevent any mishaps. Here are his quick tips on riding a bike safely:
- Ride on the road. “You have all the same rights and responsibilities of a motor vehicle, and that’s actually a Louisiana statute and New Orleans City ordinance”, says Keith. A bicycle is considered a slow-moving vehicle and should ride on the road. As such, always respect pedestrian and vehicle right of way, follow traffic signs and ride in the direction of traffic.
- Ride straight and predictable. Let cars know where you’re going. “We should signal left and right turns. A lot of these are just like cars, if all of a sudden your turn signals do not work,” says Keith. Being predictable also means being visible, always attach a white front light and red rear light to your bicycle for riding at night.
- Wear a helmet. The law does not require helmets to be worn but improves your safety immensely. “I always say it’s less about the person’s skill who is riding the bike and it’s more about all the conditions around them that influence why you should wear a helmet. All these things outside of your control are probably the greatest reasons why you should wear a helmet,” Keith says.
- Safety for people on bikes is a shared responsibility of all road users. “When talking about bike safety we cannot ignore a motorist’s responsibility,” Keith says. When passing a person riding a bike give them three feet, about the length of an open car door. He also noted that yelling or harassing a person on a bike is against Louisiana law and can result in a ticket.
- Perform an ABC check. Before hopping on your bike perform three easy tests:
- Air is sufficient.
- Brakes, front and back, are working.
- Chain and crank are moving smoothly.
“Over time, you should know how your bike would sound if something were loose. If something becomes loose, you need to address it. If you do all of these things, it should take only a couple of minutes, and you’re ready to ride,” says Keith.
Keith’s last piece of advice is for people who want to bicycle more but may be nervous to get on the road. “Probably, the best thing you can do is get up early on a Saturday or Sunday and hit the trail at 8:00 AM and try to hit a big parking lot.” Riding early in the morning on the weekend will give you a chance to ride with a minimal amount of traffic.
Bike Easy also hosts a Traffic Safety 101 workshop that teaches simple maintenance, fixing a flat and strategies for riding a bike safely and confidently. To learn more about Bike Easy or to become a member visit us at bikeeasy.org.