Category Archives: safety

Watch out for leaves

Just a public service reminder – leaves can be bad this time of year.  Even if the pavement is dry, leaves on the ground can hide wet spots.  Even just the leaves alone have a different texture than the pavement.

I see lots of people are still finding this site after doing searches for things like scooter skirts.  If you are riding in the greater Columbus area, let me know if you’d be willing to be interviewed for a future posting on the site.  I’m especially interested in people who ride year-round, or at least not just in the warm summer months.

Scooter safety article

A letter-to-the-editor was printed in the Dispatch.  You can read the full article HERE.

I do agree with him that scooters should not be treated as toys.  Unless it’s a bicycle and you can’t go more than 15 mph, you need to be wearing gear.  At the very least, you need to be wearing pants and shoes and a helmet.

That said, I think more needs to be done to offer safety courses.  The link he provides to safety courses is good.  I encourage you to take a class if you haven’t already, they even offer classes for experienced riders, like a refresher course.  (Hey, I just realized I probably have enough miles that I could take that with a straight face!)  But you will have to try as a walk-on for the class.  About 2 minutes after these classes are posted in like February, they all fill up.  I think walking on is easy, but it’s no sure thing.  If you and 10 other people show up, you probably all aren’t going to be able to walk-on.

That reminds me, there are plans to offer a scooter-focused class, which would be nice for people who don’t need/want to learn how to shift their modern/automatic scooter.  I need to go dig up that email and find out what’s going on with that.

Riding with our bicycle friends

I haven’t gone back and found the link yet, but previously I posted about riding in the middle of the lane.  Which is good advice.  But I also said something about not being in the right half by the curb, because that’s where the bicycles belong.

I was wrong.  Bicycles certainly belong on the street, but they also belong in the middle of the lane.  This is legal.  In fact, in the City of Columbus it is illegal to ride your bicycle on the sidewalk.  If you are on your scooter (or motorcycle or car) and come up to a bicyclist, the best thing you can do is pass them by moving into a different lane.  Treat them as you would another scooter (a stranger you did not know) or a car.  And so ends the public service announcement.  🙂

Windshield Wiper Fluid is Bad

I’ve been a bad blogger.  (Cue sad music)

Windshield wiper fluid is bad stuff.  On your scooter you have to watch out for it, because the car next to you or in front of you could spray it, and somehow it ends up on you.  It flies through the air!  Seriously.  I am convinced this is what scratched up my glasses last summer.  I think I was at a stoplight and put my visor up.  I got hit with the windshield wiper spray, but luckily I wear glasses.  (oooh, take that contact lens manufacturers!)

To really be sure I should take an old pair of glasses, pour some drops of fluid on them, and then see what happens.  But I’m lazy now and I’ll just blame the fluid.  Ride safe everyone!

Good book

Perhaps you are trying to decide what gift to give a scooterist, or motorcyclist.  Perhaps you are splurging on yourself.  I recommend the book “Proficient Motorcycling.”  (I also recommend MSF classes, but I talked about that before.  It’s also a little harder to put classes in a box and wrap them.  No gift certificate options, unfortunately.)  Here is the Amazon link with reviews and details about the book.  While it’s about motorcycling, most of it is super-applicable to scooters as well.

map of Columbus public library locations

Now in the spirit of consuming less, I recommend getting it from the library (locations above).  (This is also a good option if you are cheap, or aren’t sure your cousin Mike would really like the book, so maybe it’s not worth it to BUY it right away.)  Our Columbus Public Library is very good, in fact it has won awards and is “consistently ranked as one of the most used libraries in the country.” *

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Why not ride your bike?

My prediction about not getting snow until mid January turned out to be wrong.  Last week we got a few inches of snow, which stuck, and more flurries and the streets (little residential streets) were kind of a mess.  So I didn’t ride those days, mostly because I was skeered.  Some scooterists drive year-round, even in places like Minnesota, so don’t think it can’t be done.  I went out today and still need to work on getting better gloves.

But ride your bicycle if you can, because they actually handle cold winter weather better than scooters, mostly because they travel slower so windchill doesn’t hurt as bad, and slipping is less likely to happen, or at least less likely to hurt.  For $15 this Saturday you can learn from the experts how to ride your bike (bicycle) in winter weather.  http://www.considerbiking.org/site/viewtopic.php?p=2524

Crashwear vests

Before I forget, the Complete Streets meeting is today at 3:30 PM.  Go if you can, if not watch it on TV and I’ll post my thoughts about it as well.

Crashwear couple

Do you find it hard to combine your fashion style with scooter gear?  Do you want safety vests that don’t look like you work for the DOT?  Well Crashwear, a small business out of Seattle could be just what you’re looking for.  I have not bought one of these myself, so this isn’t a review.  More like an announcement.

The vests come in 4 colors and 2 designs. They retail for $29.99. Crashwear is a great holiday gift and an affordable safety investment for almost anyone who has to take to the streets on foot or on two wheels.

– robin freedman
www.crashwear.net 
     where style and safety collide

I like that tagline: “where style and safety collide”.  Note they might also be good gifts for the bicyclists or walker in your life.  The vest would fit over your regular jacket, are machine washable, have the important reflective material, and include inside and outside pockets.  (Scooter reminder: don’t put lots of crap in your jacket and vest pockets, you don’t want your cell phone/wallet combo bruising your ribs in a crash.  But the pockets would be great for joggers and bikers.)  The designs include a flower and a filled-out circle, and you can also have your vest lined with faux-fur.  The flower is growing on me.  And folks in Ohio, she’s a Buckeye so that’s one more incentive to buy!  Happy Shopping!

Winterizing tips

Crystal has some good tips for putting your scooter away for the winter.  She also has links to some year-round rider websites.  I am lucky enough that storage is not a big issue for me, I have a garage.

More tips at the Scooter Diva site: http://www.scooterdiva.com/winterizing.html

At this rate I predict (hope) that we won’t get real snow here in Columbus until after MLK day holiday (mid January).  And by real snow I mean stuff that doesn’t melt away after 30 seconds on the ground.  I have been riding pretty much every week, but not every day.  I have lots of stuff up in the air in my life right now, so once that is squared away I hope to ride more regularly.

Complete Streets meeting next Thursday

I first posted this on Xing Columbus, but as scooterists we know what’s it’s like to be ignored.  If nothing else, when the light sensors don’t pick us up and we have to sit and wait at a red light.  While this Complete Streets policy is aimed at bicyclists and pedestrians, support it if you can!  (The usual Wed video will be postponed.)

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Wouldn’t it be great if we could show our support for “alternative” transportation in Columbus?  Wouldn’t it be great if there was some sort of comprehensive transportation policy that took into account all people, not just car drivers?  Wouldn’t it be great if that policy already existed, and it just needed to be adopted by our city engineers and city council, as opposed to being built from scratch?

Well it’s Thanksgiving early, because that policy DOES exist and you get your chance to show your support for it next week!  (cheesy, I know)

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Other Paper highlights female motorcyclists

The Other Paper strikes again!  This week’s issue has a cover story called “chicks on hogs.”  I have some minor gripes about it, but it’s good to see women motorcyclists being highlighted.  Nice to see that “old-fashioned” men can still be …. (ahem) jerks.

“… the Ohio Department of Public Safety reports that the number of female motorcyclists in the state has risen by 28 percent in the last five years. “

http://www.theotherpaper.com/top11-15/coverstory.htm 

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wind chill calculator

Windchill stinks.  (Of course, given that yesterday the high was in the 60’s here in Columbus, it is a little weird to talk about this.  But still…)  Check the weather outside before you scoot out.  And watch out for deer!!

If it’s 40 (Farenheit) outside and you travel at 40 (mph) then it feels like 27 (F).  Check for yourself, scroll to the bottom of this page.  http://www.weatherimages.org/data/windchill.html  Note that speeds above 40 (mph) don’t really make it worse.  My rule of thumb is to dress so that standing outside you are hot.  All over.  Not like “in an oven” hot, more like “eh, how soon can I take off my jacket?” hot.

baklava keeps your head warm

Previously I wrote about protecting your neck and head from the cold. I mentioned wearing a “baclava” which is actually a wonderful Greek pastry, albeit mispelled. What I meant to say was I wear a “balaclava”.

Baklava: yummy pastry Balaclava: head gear

For some reason I find my mistake very amusing. Anyways, the balaclava looks like a bank robber mask, or a ninja mask. They have some at newenough if you want. The balaclava I have is from snowboarding, and so far it works fine. (Of course winter hasn’t really hit yet here in Columbus.) If you just want a simple one, it shouldn’t be expensive. Just make sure it’s thin so it will fit under your helmet, don’t get a wooly one.

Cold Riding Tips from Crystal

Crystal from Girlbike.com has a great posting with riding tips for fall/winter weather.  http://girlbike.com/2007/10/31/fall-riding-hazards/

I’d say the piles of leaves and the fog are my biggest concerns, since I think I now have the cold problem nipped in the bud.  Rode Tuesday with no problem at all, in fact I got really hot on the way home, apparently the temp got up pretty high!  (I write these posts in advance lots of times, so this doesn’t mean I didn’t ride Wed or Thurs, FYI.)

ATGATT (don’t daydream in a scooter)

boot compared to sneaker   I have wanted to preach about this before, but have held back because I had other things to talk about.  And the point of my page is not “gear gear gear.”  But today I will preach.  Don’t worry this won’t become a regular thing (Safety Fridays!) and there’s no gruesome pictures to scare you into wearing proper gear.  Other websites do that already.  This is also an unusually long post, but I figure those of you who don’t want to hear this will prefer being able to just skip onto the next post, as opposed to dragging this post out into a week-long series.

ATGATT is an acronym that stands for All The Gear, All The Time.  I’m a firm believer in it, and recently was in a very minor accident which proved the worth of ATGATT.  (I originally wrote this post when it first happened – I have scootered several times since and have healed up fine.)  I won’t go into details, but in broad daylight, at low speeds (estimated 15-20 mph), on a road I travel daily, I mis-judged something, ran into something, and ended up going down with the scooter.  The good news is I am fine. 

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tire pressure and your neck

I’ll keep this short and to the point.  Check your tire pressure.  With the cold weather, or just the fluctuations in temperature (70s, then 40s, then 60s) your tire pressure might need a look-see.

Also, in the cold weather your neck may get cold fast.  Your head too, but I seem to have more problems with my neck.  If your jacket (winter) has a big neck cover, that’s good.  But if not, get something to cover your neck.  I’m gonna try rockin a baclava (bought it for snowboarding) and neck warmer combo and see how that goes.  Remember that as you scooter along the wind chill does a number on ya.  Ride safe!

At the gas pump

Scooters save gas money.  My previous car got 30 mpg, considered good here in the U.S.  Hybrids are supposed to get in the 50s.  My scooter gets in the 80s, at worst.  How do I know this?  Do I trust the Kymco ad?  No.  I calculate the gas mileage, and you can too.  It’s not hard to do.  (Rap album here I come!)

Write down your mileage when you fill up.  Write down how much gas you put in your vehicle.  Keep doing it at every fill up.  Divide the difference in mileage (miles) by the gas amount (gallons) to get your mpg (miles per gallon).  Don’t just do it once, an average is more accurate.  C’mon people, it’s just a little math, don’t be scared!

Here’s a tip for when you fillup, don’t stick the nozzle all the way into your scooter tank. Continue reading

Full Face Helmets

Wear them.  Not beanie caps, not half helmets.  I don’t even like the flip-up ones (aka Modular).

This one:
helmet   BAD.

impace zones

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Hot weather

Yesterday (Monday) was Columbus Day, so even though it’s not a real holiday, I took it off.  Why not, I live in Columbus!  And now back to your regularly schedule posting: daily Monday – Friday.

Sadly this really doesn’t help my Columbus peoples much anymore, since our heat wave is breaking…

Hot Weather Tip:
I wear my jacket no matter how hot it is.  Some people wonder how I can stand it.  With my mesh (summer) jacket, once it gets around 90’s it’s awfully hot.  I soak my T-shirt in cold water, and then put my jacket on over it.  I find this works fine, so try it.  You may not need that expensive special vest after all.  (They sell vests that you can put in the frig/freezer to cool you off.)

Stay hydrated out there!

how to stand out at night

My mostly-fun purple neon lighting is 95% cool and only 5% safety.  However, there are many other things you can do to help yourself stand out at night. 

scooterist with reflective tape on him   Granted, it won’t mean that the cagers will see you, because they may not.  But every little bit helps.  (I’ve read that people in accidents with big yellow school buses say “I never saw the bus” so you can see what we’re dealing with!)  Here are a few ideas. Continue reading

Helmet Laws

I will have to pick this topic up again next week cuz I have lots more to say, but while I’m out for the weekend and doing Scoot-A-Que stuff, this should hold you over.

(Not really a fun “let’s kick off the weekend topic” I know.  Sorry, I will try to pick something better next week.)

From Wednesday’s New York Times, “motorcycles account for more than 10% of the highway deaths.”  If that wasn’t bad enough, they make up less than 1% of all vehicle traffic.  So motorcycles are over-represented.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/12/us/12helmet.html

So wear your helmet out there!  Scooters too.  (For the purposes of the study the article mentions, the scooters are all considered motorcycles.  So when they say motorcycles, they really mean you.)