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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 07-22-10, 08:29 PM   #1
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Question on "bicycle license" and road commuting

I live in Salt Lake County, just outside SLC.

I have a copy of SLC bicycle law in my wallet.

It says I should have a bicycle license.

Is this even necessary, like similar to driver's license?

Also, what is the maximum pre-caution protection for a road commuter who has to share the road with motor vehicle drivers, who might be inconsiderate or distracted?

In my view, the maximum protection:

Good quality helmet (Giro or similar)

Front and rear electric light

Bicycle gloves

Ankle reflector

(for "aggressive by being insistent on bicyclist's right to use the road on the right" commuting/road cycling) Elbow and knee pads

Items packed inside backpack or seat bag, i.e. portable first aid kit, multiple-function tool set, tube damage patch kit and necessities

Tightly secured bicycle portable pump (mine was stolen

I have to deal with inconsiderate drivers sometimes. Defensive bicycling is a skill that is needed.
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Old 07-22-10, 08:45 PM   #2
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the responsibility for safe driving is the driver's. the responsibility for safe cycling is the cyclists. don't live your life in fear and don't ride your bike in fear. helmets make sense. brains have a hard time knitting. elbow and knee armor? doctors can fix up breaks and bumps pretty good, so don't go overboard there.

reflectors are prudent. elbow and knee pads edge toward absurdity.

I would probably not ever carry a bicycle license / have my bicycle licensed. I'd sooner face a court order not to ride than acquiesce to the implication that cycling is a privilege rather than a right. But I get touchy about that stuff.

I like that concise presentation of the laws, though. Good for SLC UT. And a good idea to carry it around, too. Just remember that it assigns you all the rights of motor vehicles as well as reminds you of your responsibilities.

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Old 07-22-10, 09:07 PM   #3
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Wear a hi-vis jersey, shirt, jacket or vest, or make your backpack hi-vis. Reflective tape on any of these is a great idea. It is usually more visible at night than the orange or lime fabric itself.

Driving safely is a driver's responsibility, but many drivers don't take up the mantle. Your safety is your responsibility. I'd rather prudently choose not to exercise my rights as a cyclist than be hit by a car.
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Old 07-23-10, 08:25 AM   #4
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I find a bar end mirror on the left side really helpful. For night riding, I find a powerful handlebar and helmet light a great combo. When you are turning, you can look and see where you need to go. The helmet light also allows you to look at the drivers about to pull out in front of you. I use two mi-newt minis. Also some kind of spoke lights. Planet bike super flash on the back of the helmet and one on the rack too.
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Old 07-23-10, 09:08 AM   #5
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I find a bar end mirror on the left side really helpful.
YES! A good mirror is a huge asset, elbow and knee pads are much, much farther down the list. I had a really bad crash this year, broke four ribs, punctured a lung, and had a really nasty concussion even though I was wearing a helmet. I am a great believer in helmets and I very well might be dead or a vegetable if I had not been wearing one that day but they unfortunately give you little to no protection against a concussion. But with all that my elbows and knees were just fine! Because of the concussion I have total amnesia of that afternoon and cannot say if my mirror would have prevented the accident if I had been using it at the right time or not. It may have been just a loss of control on my part, it may have been due to something an automobile did. I do know that my mirror gives me a lot of information about the traffic behind me and that makes it one of the most valuable pieces of safety equipment you can purchase.

Ken
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Old 07-23-10, 09:16 AM   #6
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I don't have everything on your list (e.g. no elbow/knee pads). Also don't have ankle reflectors, but I did sew some really bright yellow reflective material to the back of my shoes and also the backs of my gloves (esp. want them to be seen when signaling at night). And I've added reflective material to the bike itself and to the bags I carry on it.

I'd also add a cellphone to the list. Certainly for use in emergencies, but also to diffuse any situations with angry motorists. I've never actually called 911 yet in such a situation, but when being harassed (yelling and thrown items) I have pretended to call and loudly reported the license number. The driver immediately took off down some side streets to get out of the area before police could arrive.
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Old 07-23-10, 09:38 AM   #7
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It says I should have a bicycle license.
No, it says the bicycle "must be licensed". I'm assuming this is some sort of police bicycle registry (for stolen bicycles) or tax revenue scheme.

You (the driver/operator/bicyclist) do not need a license. (As far as I know,) no place in the US (or anywhere) requires a bicyclist license.
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Old 07-23-10, 01:18 PM   #8
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Alright, thanks for the clarification.

I already have a mirror on the left side of the handlebar.

I know elbow and knee pad might be going far, but it's just a suggestion. Having a full body "padded armor" would sound and look ridiculous.

I'm reading the new library book "Cycling for Everyone: A Guide to Road, Mountain, and Commuter Biking" (Knack Make It Easy). Quite informative.

I don't mean to give the impression that a cyclist (in this case, road cyclist-commuter) should be 'obnoxious' that irritates and enrages the motor vehicle driver. I looked at the option of being 'geared' up for protection, even shaving legs/calves so flesh won't be ripped off hot aspalt after a crash.

I tried "drive-thru" at a nearby fast-food restaurant with a "geared to the brim" bicycle (including rear rack with two baskets) one night (after close time in the interior) and the manager refused service because he doesn't consider bicycle a "vehicle."
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Old 07-23-10, 01:31 PM   #9
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I know elbow and knee pad might be going far, but it's just a suggestion. Having a full body "padded armor" would sound and look ridiculous.
Just don't fall. Easier said than done, but it's pretty easily done, too.

Left and right hooks can be a danger; if you're moving down the road and somebody passes you only to make a right turn, it's pretty easy to collide. If somebody going the opposite direction wants to make a left, sometimes they won't pay attention, or will think you'll be going much more slowly than you really will, and a collision is possible here, too. These aren't overwhelmingly likely, just things to watch out for. Especially at night, which is why you want lights and reflectors.

I have some "accent lights" on my bike for night riding, specifically so that people coming from side roads and making left turns will see me:

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Old 07-23-10, 01:44 PM   #10
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When I lived in Palo Alto CA I had to have - or was supposed to have - a bicycle license. It cost a few bucks and you got a sticker for the bike. I was told it allowed the authorities to more easily return a bike to its owner if it got stolen. I got two licenses and was irritated with the sticker as I do not like stickers! My problem. But I put it on my Mondia and my daughters GT. The GT got stolen the first time and the police did not find it, some kids recognized it outside a supermarket and corralled the thief and took the bike back. Then it got stolen again and someone found it in some bushes, recognized it, and returned it to my my daughter. Then it got stolen a third time and, as is said, three time's the charm! We never saw it again.

At no time was the license of any use at all.

My Campy still has the silly thing stuck on it I think, unless it fell off.

I live in Bethesda, outside of DC. I commute through DC to Virginia. No one here requires anything so silly!
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Old 07-23-10, 05:10 PM   #11
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I tried "drive-thru" at a nearby fast-food restaurant with a "geared to the brim" bicycle (including rear rack with two baskets) one night (after close time in the interior) and the manager refused service because he doesn't consider bicycle a "vehicle."
Hoo-doggie. I'd be all over that manager's superiors like nobody's business. That's ridiculous to say something like that in the food service arena. Any other cyclists near you you know or cycling clubs? That sounds like a perfect Critical Mess situation, have a dozen or more of you roll up to place orders.
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Old 07-23-10, 05:12 PM   #12
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I'd also add a cellphone to the list. Certainly for use in emergencies, but also to diffuse any situations with angry motorists. I've never actually called 911 yet in such a situation, but when being harassed (yelling and thrown items) I have pretended to call and loudly reported the license number. The driver immediately took off down some side streets to get out of the area before police could arrive.
+1 on the cell phone, but I always go the next step and actually file a police report about those sorts of things. Around here, it's not that much of a hassle to do as their an online form to fill out.
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