Hard-shell helmets are required for riders under 16. It should cover your forehead and the back of your head and fit snug. Center the buckle under your chin; you should be able to fit only one or two fingers between it and your chin.
How big, how high? When you stand astride a bike, there should be just an inch or two of clearance between you and the bike—more for mountain bikes. Adjust the seat so your extended leg is almost straight when sitting and pedaling.
Tires, brakes and chain. Maximize your effort: know what pressure your tires should be; check before riding. To check brakes, squeeze them while rocking the bike onto the front tire and then the back. If all is well, the tires won’t move. Grit is a chain’s enemy. Keep it wiped clean and lubricated, especially after gritty, wet rides.
Reflect yourself. Be the one cars can’t miss with flashing head and tail lights—they’re required from dusk to dawn—plus reflectors or reflective tape on the back of your pack or coat, helmet, spokes or pant legs. Use a rear-view mirror too—much safer than turning to look. Consider a bell: it’s a cordial way to say “I’m coming up behind you.”
Riding in the rain. If you haven’t heard, it rains a bit in our region. Don’t let grey days keep you off your bike, just follow some simple tips to stay dry and safe:
- Stay dry with fenders, a rain jacket and pants or rain cape, and waterproof shoes.
- Slow down on wet roads, especially after the first rain after a dry spell.
- Brake early and often, allowing plenty of distance to stop.
- Avoid painted and steel road surfaces, leaves that can become slick when wet.
- Even though it’s tempting, riding through puddles should be avoided, as they can disguise deep potholes or other hazards.
Locks and thieves. Lock your bike to a secure object in a well-lit, well-traveled area. Cable locks are easy to cut; use a U-lock or heavy-gauge chain.
Know the Law. The Portland Bureau of Transportation provides information on state and city laws pertaining to cyclists.