DID SOMEONE YOU know start riding a bike to work or class or using a bicycle to run errands this year? If so, this list provides some gift suggestions to keep that person riding on through the new year and beyond.
If that person is you, consider adding these items to your list if they’re not there already.
When shopping, please consider your local bicycle shops. It’s hard to ride your bike to eBay or Amazon, so why not spend your money at a place where you can actually shop by bike? The friendly, knowledgeable folks there can help guide you to solutions you might not think of otherwise.
Lights, reflective wear — This time of year an extra five minutes spent chatting with a coworker at the end of the day can result in an unexpectedly dark commute home. A quality light set will ensure the cyclist in your life can see, and more importantly, be seen on the way home. If he or she already has a white front and red rear light, a second set of inexpensive lights to store in an office desk drawer, purse or briefcase provides a potentially life saving back–up in case the first set malfunctions or is stolen from a bike parked outside.
You should also add some reflective wear to your list: vests are light, inexpensive and can be carried stuffed into small packs. A pair of reflective ankle straps helps keep trousers out of chains and the up and down motion of their reflection says, “Bike here!”
Locks — Speaking of stealing things, does the cyclist on your list use a U–lock? Then buy them a cable lock. Does he or she own a cable lock? Then buy a U–lock. If they have neither, get them both. Why?
To quote the wise words of the late Sheldon Brown, the internet’s most beloved bicycle expert, “If you use both the U–lock and the cable lock, you are more than twice as safe as you would be with either of them alone. Either type of lock can be defeated, but each requires a different large, bulky tool that’s useless against the other.”
Nothing is worse than leaving your workplace at the end of a long day and staring at the blank space where your bicycle used to be. Which leads me to perhaps the greatest gift a boss can give: Provide a secure, indoor storage area for your employees who commute by bike. They are healthier, better employees, too, so it’s good for your bottom line.
Helmet — The good news is cyclists are uniquely able to manage the risks they face on the road. Bicycles are very maneuverable (especially compared with cars) and cyclists have the advantage of unobstructed views of traffic around them. They can also hear a lot more of what’s going on around them. Still, helmets are a necessity for safe cycling.
The problem is people hate wearing them, mainly because humankind has been so far unable to design a bicycle helmet that doesn’t look dorky. I found a way to trick myself into wearing a helmet 100 percent of the time I’m on a bike. I bought a helmet–mounted rearview mirror.
I still look over my shoulder and make eye contact with drivers before moving left in a lane of course, (as someone said, “mirrors can say ‘no,’ but they can’t say ‘yes’”), but once I became used to glancing up and to the left to see what was behind me, I was hooked.
In fact, I miss the mirror when I’m walking. I may become the first person in Savannah to begin regularly wearing a pedestrian helmet.
Better place for bicycling — The No. 1 thing on my wish list is a city that’s safer and friendlier to cyclists. Such an environment encourages folks of all ages to make bicycling a healthy and fun part of their daily lives. I enjoy the satisfaction of knowing every time I renew my Savannah Bicycle Campaign membership, I’m moving our city closer to this goal.
Along with discounts offered by local merchants and other benefits, a Savannah Bicycle Campaign membership is the perfect gift for the cyclist who has everything.
John Bennett is vice chairman of the Savannah Bicycle Campaign, bicyclecampaign.org