Francine says: I'm not an experienced biker and since you are, what about a quick rundown of dos and don'ts for both drivers and those new to biking. It could give us something to think about as riders but also help us out as drivers when sharing the road with cyclists. Like a dumbed-down version of what you know and deal with on a daily basis. I know I'd find something like that helpful, maybe others would too?
- Always be looking out for bikers, be aware that we are everywhere. Be especially careful around kids on bikes as they tend to be less predictable.
- Understand that we are not usually being jerks but are dealing with hazards and other issues that you may not be aware of.
- Always give at least 3 feet of space when passing. This is now a law in many places and if it isn't, it should be. If there is not 3 feet of space to pass, be patient and ride slowly behind (at a safe distance) until there is. There is nothing so important that you need to sideswipe a biker to get there. Often, you don't realize how far your mirrors come out. Give more space than you think necessary and bikers will be eternally grateful.
- Put away your sandwich, lipstick, and your cell phone. Be sober! Treat driving as a privilege, not a right. Remember that cars can and do kill, and it only takes a moment of distraction for something terrible to happen.
- Wait for bikes to pass before pulling into a bike lane to park/turn. (There is little I hate more than having a car stop right in front of me and expect me to swerve into traffic, just so they can get that sweet parking spot).
- Don't assume we are all jerky bikers who think we are better than everyone else.
- Ride a bike. The best way to understand bikers is to become one. Know what it is like to be passed within inches, to start slowly at a stop sign with cars bearing down on you from behind, why bikers sometimes can't use bike lanes or use sidewalks and sometimes need to use a full traffic lane.
- Don't assume you have the right-of-way, even if you do. Don't take a turn that is not yours, unless the driver(s) see you and wave you through.
- Don't assume people see you or know how to drive around you.
- Always be aware, present, and alert. Be sober.
- Continuously look around, plan your route around hazards, and have escape plans for possible dangerous situations.
- Watch out for drivers' blind spots and opening doors.
- Ride predictably. Use turn signals properly. Ride in a straight path, don't zip in between parked cars. Make eye contact with drivers, bikers, and pedestrians who might be getting into your path.
- Try to use education rather than profanities when interacting with a less-than-perfect driver.
- Use your bell and a kind "on your left" when passing other bikers, pedestrians.
- Stay off the sidewalks, ride as if you were a car, remember to obey traffic laws, ride with the flow of traffic.
- Don't be that jerky biker who thinks they are better than everyone else.
- A smile and wave goes a long way in reinforcing drivers' good behavior and reminding people that you are a real person and appreciate their help in keeping you alive.
Hi there! I've been reading your blog while considering getting the Mundo for my own family/cargo needs. I did a test ride with my two-year-old in the peanut shell and the ride was wonderful but I actually tipped over the bike while trying to walk it out of its parked spot -- the bike all loaded up weighs more than me! I was wondering if you have any advice for new cargo-bike riders on how NOT to tip the bike over.
Cargo bikes do handle differently than other bikes, especially when it is loaded up. Almost always, if you're going to fall, it's going to be while you are mounting/dismounting. I recommend to start riding your new cargo bike in an open, empty location so you can get a good feel for how the bike moves without also having to deal with outside distractions. Practice turns, swerving, circles, hopping on/off, etc. You can try getting on and off the bike next to a curb so your foot falls flat and stable on the surface or lower your seat in the beginning until you are more comfortable (not recommended for long rides but it's a good starting point). Also, try to make sure your bike's load is evenly balanced and if possible, keep the weight close to the front of the rack. If one side is heavier, it is easier to lose control. Once you get more comfortable and confident while riding your cargo bike, you will be less likely to tip. Walking with the Mundo is a bit difficult, too. Keep one hand on the brake to help stabilize and move slowly. I also use my hip to help hold up the bike and keep both hands on the handlebars.
That said--tipping happens. Sometimes, it's nice to get that first fall out of the way so you can see that it actually does less damage than one would believe (but I don't advocate doing it on purpose, of course). I have found that I am able to ride with a higher seat now, take tighter turns, and go faster because I am more used to the way my Mundo handles. One last piece of advice: regularly remind your little one to not make too many sudden moves :)