Tag Archives: safety

Get to know your bike: now through April 30

Attend a crash course on bicycle safety, maintenance, and mechanics! 4 sessions for $15 or individual classes for $5.
  • Week 1: Anti-Road Rage – Learn how not to infuriate drivers! Use the rules of the road to stay safe (April 9).
  • Week 2: Mechanical Lore – Learn the mechanical mysteries of your bike (April 16).
  • Week 3: Don’t be a tool… – Learn how to use them! Use tools to repair any bicycle mishap (April 23).
  • Week 4: Outdoor Bike-venture – Apply your new found know-how in an outdoor group ride around Columbia! (April 30).
When: Mondays in April (April 9, 16, 23, and 30) from 6 – 7 p.m.
Where: Middlebush 132
How: Register at the MSA/GPC Box Office (Student charge available!)
You can also find this event on Facebook! (although you’ll still need to register!)

We are committed to ensuring that our programs are accessible to all.  If you have a disability and anticipate barriers to your participation, please contact Ben Datema at datemab@missouri.edu or 573-882-8207.Sponsored by Student Sustainability in the Department of Student Life and taught by PedNet.

You are not a bear: 8 outdoor safety tips for Spring Break

Rule #1: We don’t demand that you hold hands while crossing the street (nor are we opposed to it), but the buddy system is tried and true. Whether you’re camping, hiking or kayaking, carving the mountains or carving the waves, the outdoors are way more fun with friends (and dolphins). Keep in mind that, no matter how tame your adventures may seem, accidents do happen; having a buddy helps keep them from becoming disasters.

Rule #2: GO WITH A BUDDY. No exceptions.

American Black Bear. Part of the Illinois Urban Landscapes Project: http://www.fieldmuseum.org/urbanlandscapes/

Rule #3: The water may look clear, but remember that amoebas are really, really tiny. Before you eat or drink anything out in the wild, make sure you know where it came from, and what risks may be present by consuming it. You can boil your water, or chemically sterilize it, but more often you’re just better off bringing enough from home. Additionally, if you feel inclined to eat anything, make sure you know exactly what it is. Or better yet, if you find it on the ground, just leave it there. You are not a bear.

Rule #4: It’s highly unlikely that you will encounter a shark over Spring Break. Or ever. And despite what you may hear, it’s actually really difficult to hold yourself still in a little ball while a 20-foot apex predator evaluates you for marbling and tenderness. There are many (by now, cliché) defensive strategies you can resort to if you encounter hostile marine life – curling up in the aforementioned ball, or punching wildly at its gills, nose and eyes. But bear in mind that it’s not only sharks you have to be cautious of, and the safest way to enjoy the ocean is usually by staying where everyone else is. Your goal may be to avoid the crowds, but sharks and jellyfish feel the same way.

Rule #5: terephthalylidene dicamphor sulfonic acid, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane and chap stick should keep the elements at bay.

Geïmproviseerd zonnescherm / improvised sun screen from Nationaal Archief. http://www.nationaalarchief.nl

Rule #6: It rubs the sunscreen on its skin or else it gets the melanoma again – among the top ten cancer types in the US, according to the National Cancer Institute. Sunburns aren’t just annoying; they can be really painful, become infected, blister, and even leave scars. And by Spring Break your skin is primed for them – after hiding underneath layers of clothing all winter, your skin isn’t as ready as you are to deal with the sudden, intense exposure associated with frolicking joyfully on the beach. And just realize this: it’s much more fashionable to massage sunscreen into someones shoulders than to slather aloe vera all over their dry, sun-beaten back.

Bonfires Are Permitted on the Camping Ground of Long Key State Park, Midway between Key Largo and Key West. From Project DOCUMERICA

Rule #7: 10/10 doctors, teachers and Supreme Court justices agree that campfires are fun. But they can also go awry very quickly, and without you necessarily noticing. If you’re building a fire, make sure you follow some of the basic rules, like setting it in a pit (some campsites have them prepared for you) and clearing the area around it of all loose debris. Make sure the wind isn’t going to send your tent or anything else up in flames. And even when the embers look like they’ve finally cooled down, they haven’t. This is especially true with charcoal, which can remain hot for hours. Nothing can ruin your day like a surprise coal-walk.

Rule #8: If you go anywhere, particularly by car, it’s always handy to have a bag of snacks and supplies. Inevitably, somebody this Spring Break is going to get stuck on the road, in the middle of nowhere, waiting and wondering why, oh why did they not at least pack some Gatorade or bring the bag of Gummy Bears they left on the counter. Keeping some basic tools, a small first aid kit and some non-perishable snackage in the trunk at all times is an easy, one-time way to give yourself a little insurance against that one tack in the road. Also, toilet paper is like the evolutionary cousin of duct tape: it does one thing really well, but has endless possible uses at the same time. Pack a roll.

By Cade Cleavelin and Tina Casagrand

Guide to Winter Biking

The winter months are best loved for their holidays and the return of the pumpkin spice latte, but for bicyclists, they might sadly signal that it’s time to put the bike away. Dropping temperatures, black ice, snow-packed roads – biking during winter is impossible, right? Not so fast! (No but seriously, slowing down is a big winter biking strategy.) With a few adjustments to your bike, your wardrobe and your riding technique, biking is still possible  come rain, sleet or snow. To help get you and your two-wheeler ready for frosty rides, Footprint has put together this handy winter biking reference with help from Sarah Ashman, store manager of Walt’s Bike Shop.

“Snow brings a whole new layer of obstacles on the road for cylists and motorists,” Ashman says. Make sure your bike is up to the challenge. Even before considering cute fuzzy hats to keep your head warm under that helmet or stressing about how to navigate icy pavement without injuring (or just embarrassing) yourself, the first thing on any bicyclist’s winter agenda is a bike check-up. A bike’s brakes and gears can lose affectiveness in inclement weather, and icy temperatures demand a well-lubricated bike chain. Ashman also suggests lowering the pressure of both rear and front tires for increased stability in snow, though to exactly what pressure depends on your individual tires.

Get your gears and brakes checked and make sure your chain is well-lubricated before winter riding. Photos: Tina Casagrand and Kristin Torres

At the end of this guide we’ve included information on a number of places to get your bike in top shape if you need help getting set up. And now, the tips:

In the winter months, less sun means less visibility. Mornings will be darker and night will seem to come sooner, meaning you’ll have a harder time sticking out to other vehicles than you did in the summer. While most bikes come with reflectors, they aren’t enough to maintain visibility during a dark morning or a snowfall. Get equipped with lights for both the rear and head of the bike to help stay visible in your own lane and to oncoming traffic. And though it might cramp your style, reflective clothing like a vest or jacket can offer an added sense of security and maybe even a bit of warmth. Speaking of which…

A sweaty ride might seem unthinkable during the winter months, but overdressing in warm clothes is common and can lead to an unpleasant ride. Combine wet clothes and cold weather and once you’re off the bike you’re even colder than before. While we know most bicyclists will wear to ride what they plan to wear for class or work and won’t be running out to buy a Lycra bodysuit anytime soon, a few considerations can keep you dry and reduce the chance that you’ll have to pull over and strip off a layer. And since many cyclists in Columbia are only biking short distances, especially students, less modification is needed.

– The extremities
This includes your head, feet and hands — especially the fingers. Wear a knit cap or insulated headband under a helmet to protect the ears from chill. As for the hands, Ashman suggests wearing a glove that will provide warmth while still allowing you to easily reach for brakes and gears. And if you find your feet lose heat easily and you don’t want to spring for a pair of insulated boots, Ashman offers this tip: wear plastic sandwich bags over your socks and in your shoes for a cheap wind barrier while riding. If you take care of them and are hygenic, you can re-use them multiple times.

– The core
The chest is especially important to keep warm in the winter months, and riding in wind increases its vulnerability. Ashman says if you make just one change to your commuting clothes, it should be to avoid cotton directly on the skin. “Cotton, when it gets wet, will stay wet while you’re in class,” Ashman says. Consider wearing a moisture-wicking layer like a tank top made of synthetic fibers under a shirt. She also advises wearing a windproof jacket.


– Embrace the helmet
There’s no getting around it–sometimes, helmets just don’t look cool. Bulky and often bulbous, they’re the bane of the cycling aesthetic. Still, riding in winter can be more dangerous than in any other season, making a helmet pretty imperative, even for short distances.

A helmet is doubly important in the winter when riding on slick and icy surfaces. Photos: Tina Casagrand and Kristin Torres

– Know thy brake
Braking suddenly can lead to skidding or even flipping over the front wheel without special precautions. Ashman says to help avoid accidents, don’t brake heavily on the front wheel and instead utilize your rear brake.

Braking on wet or icy surfaces won’t be as on point as when biking on dry surfaces, meaning it’ll take a longer time and distance for your bike to come to a stop. Though unexpected obstacles like a suddenly stopped car or a rogue squirrel won’t give you much time to react, visualize distance in your head to estimate how much room you have before knocking into something.

And lastly,

– Traction is your friend
The good news is you have control over the traction of your wheels. The bad news is you don’t have much control over anything else. Over the course of the winter months, you’ll encounter freshly fallen fluff, rain puddles and tightly packed snow. Your best defense is a pair of thick tires with deep ridges, though the rarely-seen studded tire is best suited for the elements. So what about that road bike with the thin, smooth wheels? Ashman says winter biking is still possible, especially considering most Columbia cyclists are biking relatively short distances, but even more emphasis is added on safe riding technique. This means cautious braking and making slow, controlled turns. And if you’re really worried about your grip-less tires, maybe zip ties can come to the rescue?

After a snowfall, the best scenario would be to ride on gritty snow, as it provides for more traction. Snow that hasn’t been plowed or that has been driven over a lot will create bumpy ridges that will take away some of that steering ability. In this case, it helps to keep your body weight equalized on your seat to keep the tires pressed into the ground — don’t lean or bounce side to side, especially when pedaling out of the saddle. Though biking ordinance calls for riding as far to the right as possible and at a safe distance, narrow paths created on the road when snow is plowed onto either side of the street make staying in the shoulder nearly impossible. Ashman says that a cyclist comfortable in their skills and abilities should take the road in this case, but only when sure surrounding motorists are very aware of your presence.

It boils down to this: make sure your bike is up to the challenge of gritty winter weather, dress accordingly and take it slow and steady out there.

To get your bike tuned in time for winter, check out these local resources:
Klunk Cycles and Repair 12 N. 2nd Street
Walt’s Bike Shop 1217 Rogers St. #A
MU’s Bike Resource Center
PedNet 501 Fay St. During certain times of the year, PedNet offers classes for those wanting to learn how to pedal safely and confidently around Columbia.