GreenTown Los Altos

Back to School: Bike Safely!


Sep 2013


WoW Days generate broad enthusiasm

WoW Days generate broad enthusiasm for “wheeling” in any form, lightening the solo trip vehicle load. Be part of the change!

Bicycle safety is a high priority for GreenTown as we work through our WoW! program to get more kids walking and riding their bikes to school. The City of Los Altos Police Department funds primarily lecture style bicycle safety education in the schools, including a Drive that Bike defensive bike riding course for Los Altos School District (LASD) Junior High School students – Blach students will benefit from the September 3 meeting – as well as bike/pedestrian safety assemblies and 3rd/4th grade bike rodeos in LASD Elementary Schools, Bullis Charter School and Montclair Elementary in the Cupertino School District.

GreenTown held its first hands-on bike safety class on August 15 for Gardner Bullis elementary school graduates who were headed to Egan Junior High. The class was led by League of American Bicyclists League Certified Instructor (LCI) Chris Cook, who doubles as a Chain Reaction Bicycles wrencher.  Instruction included an initial; (i) ABC Quick Check; (ii) drills to build riding skills, including riding in a straight line, around obstacles, looking over your shoulder and indicating the direction of movement; and (iii) a bike ride to and from Egan with commentary.

So what are some of the key take-aways from our bicycle safety:

Do an ABC Quick Check every time you ride. It shouldn’t take more than a minute:

A = Air – Is there enough pressure in the tire. Put pressure on tire, feel how it bounces, inflate to pressure indicated on sidewall of the tire.

B = Brakes. Are the brakes working properly, can you move the front or back wheels when the brakes are engaged. Rotate wheels to make sure nothing is rubbing. Inspect brake pads for wear. Check adjustment of brake levers, when applied you should have 1″ between lever and handlebar.

C = Chain, Cranks, Cassette. Chain should be clean, lubricated and quiet, crank should spin freely and not move from side to side, cassette should look clean.

Quick = Quick release. Move the lever from fully open to fully closed, lever should meet resistance at the halfway point. Don’t close it right on top of the frame.

Check = Overall check. Are there any loose or broken parts? Tighten, replace or fix them. Take a quick ride to see if the derailleurs are functioning properly.

If your bike does not pass the ABC Quick Check, it needs repairs or service work. To review the key points of an ABC Quick Check, see this video.

Signal to indicate your intention:

You can signal with the left arm, holding firm to your bike with your right:

•                turning right – bend left arm at the elbow, hand up

•                turning left – hold left arm straight out

•                stopping – bend left arm at the elbow, arm down

Hold each signal for 2-3 seconds to indicate to cars or other bikes your intention.

Follow the rules of the road:

•                wear a helmet at all times (it’s the law until they’re 18). Information about proper fitting can be found here.

•                when on the road, ride in the direction of traffic, not against it;

•                stop at stop signs (it’s the law); and

•                signal all turns.

Practice safe bike riding skills. Be courteous and polite:

– Hold your line in a bike lane or on a bike route (San Antonio Road is an example of a bike lane – it is dedicated for bicycles, Los Altos Avenue is an example of a bike route, where it is suggested as a route but cars can park between the striping and the curb which creates challenges for cyclists)

– If you need to move around an obstacle, scan (turn and glance over your shoulder) to see if anyone is behind you, and indicate your intention to move to any bikes, pedestrians or cars behind you, with a downward point in the direction of movement.

– If you’re riding with friends, remember the rules of three: never ride three abreast and ride three seconds behind the bike in front of you.

– When on a pathway or in a bike lane, pass on the left and alert people ahead of you that you are coming by saying : “on your left.” Scan and indicate your direction to anyone behind you.

Enjoy the ride!

Biking to and from school is good for you! Studies show that kids who walk or bike to school concentrate better and are healthier than kids who don’t. Plus it’s freeing. But all kids need practice to develop their skills as a safe cyclist. Enjoy the ride with your child a bunch of times so you can see what challenges they face on their way to school and help them to avoid or address them.

To learn more about the WoW! program or to schedule a hands-on bike safety class, please email

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