While COVID-19 has eliminated several bicycle-related activities, the fine early fall weather provides plenty of opportunities for social distanced rides. Looking ahead, there is some nice riding in fall and winter whether for recreation/exercise or errands/work. Here are a few riding tips to encourage your riding and to keep you safe:
Check your lights front and rear. “Too many lights” are just about right in the low light, fall and winter conditions. Your lights are to make you visible (both day and night), but also to avoid those hidden ruts, potholes, and bumps in the street. Road debris at night is another hazard which good front lighting will help you avoid.
Add a helmet or head-mounted lamp to help see those potholes, debris, etc. at night. While a front light in blink mode makes people more aware of your presence, the headlamp helps you see obstacles. The advantage of a headlamp is that when you move your head, the light goes with you. When on trails with little or no street lighting, both the headlamp and front light (in steady mode) will light the path.
Replace the batteries. Keep your re-chargeables charged.
Have someone view your bicycle from behind in the dark with the lights “on.” Ensure that your gear or clothing does not block the light beams (front and rear) and that the rear light(s) aim toward following vehicles.
Spoke lights or spoke reflectors are both fun and provide visibility from the side.
Watch other people on bicycles and judge their visibility index as a guide to improving your own.
Add an extra “blinky light” front and rear and use them both as nighttime supplements and as “daytime running lights.”
Maybe shop for and use a helmet mounted rear-facing light.
Be fair to people in cars – let them see you. Driving can be challenging at this time of year. Don’t join the “ghost bike” program.
You will probably ride safer and smarter if you are comfortable – so plan your riding gear accordingly. Think layers.
As you bundle up, look at your outer layer. If it is dark in color, either choose something that is not or pick up a reflective vest from your locally owned hardware or big box home center.
Wet leaves and snow are slippery so anticipate your stops and turns.
Pay special attention to puddles of water or clumps of leaves as they can mask the plentiful potholes, ruts, utility caps, and craters in the paved surface. City streets are worse than ever so watch for crevices, bumps, patches, and so on. Good front lighting will help here!
Recall that some pavement markings can also be slippery when wet or extra slippery when covered with wet leaves, snow, or ice.
Keep your chain clean and lubricated (especially after riding in melted slush).
You might want to inspect your tires for wear. You might swap the front to the rear (since the rear takes the most weight and wears quicker). If planning to ride in snow, you might invest in wider, knobby tires for better traction (if your bike accepts them).
Consider reducing tire pressures from max by 5 to 10 psi for better grip.
Sunglasses are very important this time of year as well. With the days getting shorter, there is a greater chance you will finishing or starting a ride in low light conditions. Switch your tinted lenses to a rose or clear lens for better visibility in low light conditions.
When riding into that low fall sun, remember that the people in cars behind may not see you, as they also will be blinded.
Plan your braking and turns to avoid a spill.
Be mindful of slippery metal surfaces (such as utility covers and grates).
Fall and winter is a good time to get ready for next year’s riding with a tune up from one of our local bicycle shops. This is a good time to support your local shop and to help them over the slower winter season. November through March is good time to get that special attention from your bicycle mechanic. Find out where at – https://albanybicyclecoalition.com/resources/
A utilitarian cyclist, Deborah Carpenter, who (apparently) was struck down by a motor vehicle while riding home from work. The crash was near 847 Loudon Rd, Colonie. She was left in the road alive but in a coma and in critical condition. Deborah faithfully rides her bicycle to and from work.
From DD: I live not that far from the Latham Traffic Circle and frequently have to deal with the potential hazards of that intersection. I experienced a minor incident a couple of years ago where I was heading North on Route 9. I entered the Circle when a car coming up from behind through the Circle on my left; decided to make a right onto Route 2 heading East. I was thereby forced to alter my course at the last second and turn to the right. I was side swiped by the car and was knocked to the ground. The car did stop and I was able to get up off the pavement before the passing of additional traffic. The driver apologized and asked if I was all right. Both the car and the bike had minor scratches and I experienced some minor cuts and bruises; but was basically all right. I saw no need to get the insurance companies involved. He asked again if I was all right before we continued on our ways. I am NOT a fan of traffic circles. I am cautious when dealing with traffic circles and depending on the time of day and volume of traffic will go out of my way to detour around them. [Emphasis added.] I sincerely hope for a speedy recovery for the injured cyclist.
From IV: I heard a newscast, but missed the TU article. Please let me know if I can donate to a fund for Deborah. RE the exam of the bike by police: sometimes if only the back tire is hit, no scratches, paint chips etc. are found, however the rear wheel is significantly out of line with the brakes out of line as well. (My back wheel after the crash impacting me was greatly distorted.) It is worth getting that thought to Colonie Police.
From JF: So awful to hear. Hope they get the information they need to move forward.
On the picture perfect Sunday afternoon, August 15, the Underground Railroad Education Center and the Albany Bicycle Coalition jointly conducted an Arbor Hill/West Hill “Slow Roll” bicycle ride (see stats at end of this post). The fun, safe, low-stress, low-speed bicycle ride took advantage of numerous bicycle lanes, trails, and low congestion streets in the neighborhood. The group stopped at several points where speakers led discussions on the history and future of the neighborhoods. Stops included the Harriet and Stephen Myers Residence, Arbor Hill Park, Tivoli Lake Preserve, Bleeker Stadium/Swinburne Park, and the Arbor Hill Library. The Tivoli Preserve stop highlighted the 9-mile Patroon Creek Greenway Trail currently undergoing study by the City of Albany (see http://albanyny.gov/800/Patroon-Greenway-Feasibility-Study). The new Greenway Trail would connect the Albany Waterfront to the Six Mile Waterworks and points beyond with access from Arbor Hill and West Hill. We also discussed the daylighting of the Patroon Creek and making nearby mountain bike trails more accessible to Tivoli Preserve and its adjoining neighborhoods.
Our Arbor Park Stop pointed out the nearby site of the original Dudley Observatory. We also noted 1962 Urban Renewal Plans for the area that would have put a school where the historic Harriet and Stephen Myers Residence still stands. The 1964 plans are more representative of the current configuration.
RIDE STATS – The ride covered 4.37 miles “door-to-door” and started at 1:15 and ended at 2:45 (1 hour 30 min) with 44 min of actual riding with an average speed of 5.7 mph. The ride thus met its goal of being a “slow roll” that riders of all abilities could enjoy.
We ended the ride with an “ice cream social” in the shady back yard of the Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence.
The Albany Bicycle Coalition will be conducting a “Bike the Branches Slow Roll” in conjunction with the Albany Public Libraries on September 25.
UPDATE 9-21-21: John Host Lynch Memorial Gathering – Sat, 9/25, 2:30 PM – Join us at the Albany Barn, 56 Second St., Albany, on September 25 at 2:30 pm to celebrate the life of John Lynch. We encourage you to share stories and memories after a brief ceremony. Friends and family welcome. Questions? – Layla, (845) 616-0626 or the Facebook.
John Lynch – 7/20/21 – John was active in the Capital Region bicycle scene and was heavily involved in Troy Bike Rescue as a volunteer and board member. He always had a happy word or smile to share. The fatal crash occurred on Washington Ave. in Kingston. Bike-Friendly Kingston held a memorial ride for John on 7/23/21. One of the comments at Bike-Friendly Kingston, NY | Facebook was “I want to share my appreciation to everyone who attended this event and helped make it happen. As one of the riders who was with John when this accident occurred, seeing such strong community support has been really helpful to my healing. To those who knew John, I want you to know that his last hours seemed filled with a lot of joy. The big smile that was on his face for much of his last ride will always be with me.”
John was active in Kingston as a bike tech at the YMCA’s “Lend a Wheel” Program – see – PHOTOS: Lend a Wheel – Daily Freeman This program offers bicycle repair clinics, loans, and giveaways.
“We also lost a longtime staff person, John Lynch, to a bicycle accident (sic.) in July. John was a bicycle safety advocate and social justice advocate, among all the other things that were commendable about his character. No obituary is available for John at this time. Our hearts and condolences go out to all those who knew and loved John.” (From Honest Weight Food Co-op’s “Honest Slate” Newsletter, 8/21 https://www.dropbox.com/s/ubh69he1lqsgo76/2021%20August%20Slate%20FINAL.pdf?dl=0 )
From Troy Bike Rescue …
Photos courtesy Carrie Will and Kingston YMCA ++++++
Co-Sponsored by the Albany Bicycle Coalition and the Underground Railroad Education Center. Join us for a leisurely tour of Albany’s Arbor and West Hill outdoor treasures. Sunday, 8/15, 1 PM. Start and finish at the Meyer’s Residence/Underground Railroad Education Center, 194 Livingston Ave., Albany.
This will be a 3.5-mile fun, safe, low-stress, low-speed bicycle ride. The ride will take about 60 to 90 minutes. We will take advantage of numerous bicycle lanes, trails, and low congestion streets in the neighborhood. We will visit key sites in Arbor Hill/West Hill including Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence/Underground Railroad Ed Center, Arbor Hill Park, Tivoli Preserve, Bleeker Stadium/Swinburne Park, and the Arbor Hill Library. There will be time to discuss these neighborhood gems as well as a great potential new gem – the 9-mile Patroon Creek Greenway Trail currently undergoing study by the City of Albany. The new Greenway Trail would connect the Albany Waterfront to the Six Mile Waterworks and points beyond with access from Arbor Hill and West Hill.
There is no charge for the ride. The not-for-profit Underground Railroad Education Center and the Albany Bicycle Coalition would welcome your donations to support our respective programs.
Registration not required but if you want to join our ride, please e mail –
Albany Bicycle Coalition is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Membership dues and donations are fully tax deductible. Annual dues are $25.00. Any donations are welcome. The 2020 CARES Act allows taxpayers who don’t itemize their deductions to adjust their income up to $300 per taxpayer ($600 for a married couple). This adjustment is available for cash gifts to public charities, such as ABC.