National Bike Month will be observed during May in many communities. Evanston encourages this green mode of transportation. as demonstrated by the addition of bike lanes on such streets as Asbury, Chicago, Church, Davis, Dodge and others. With the arrival of warmer weather and more bicyclists sharing City streets, it is a good idea to review some laws and safety tips.

The first step is to make sure all bikes to be used by family members are in good shape. Evanston’s two bicycle shops, the Pony Shop (ponyshop.com) and Turin Bicycle (turinbicycle.com), have service departments that can give bikes a tune-up for a fee.

If the bike does not require a tune-up, make sure it passes the Bicycle Safety Checklist from the “Illinois Bicycle Rules of the Road” booklet:

• Front light visible for at least 500 feet

• Clear front reflector?

• Red rear reflector visible from 100 to 600 feet

• Horn or bell that can be heard up to 100 feet

• Reliable, properly adjusted brakes

• Wheel-mounted side reflectors

• Reflector pedals

• Gears that are adjusted and operate smoothly

• Properly adjusted seat

• Handlebars and all accessories attached securely

Here are some Bicycle Safety Tips, also from the “Illinois Bicycle Rules of the Road” booklet:

1. It is safest to ride single file. If the whole family is riding, have mom or dad lead the way, with the children in the middle and the second parent at the rear.
In single-parent cases, the oldest sibling can take the lead with mom or dad in back to make sure everyone is safe.

2. Always ride one person to a bike. 
It is harder to balance a bike with another person on it, and a passenger may block the cyclist’s view of surroundings.

3. Avoid riding after dark if possible. When riding at night, always wear white or reflective clothing. Wearing a helmet is especially important after dark.

4. Ride as close to the right edge of the road as is practical. Always ride in the same direction as the other traffic.

5. Always keep both hands on the handlebars. Use a backpack or bike carrier to hold books, lunch or other items. Use common sense and ride more slowly on wet pavement, over loose gravel or bumpy roads.

6. Obey traffic signs and signals. Bicycle riders, as well as drivers, must obey all traffic signs and signals.

Every community has rules regarding bicycles and their operation and Evanston is no different. It is a good idea to become familiar with the City Code (sterlingcodifiers.com/IL/Evanston/index.htm) as it applies to Bicycles (Title 10, Chapter 9). For example, bike riding on the sidewalks is prohibited in the Central Business District of Downtown Evanston. Despite having signs posted to reflect that law (48-O-04), bike riders seem to believe it is their right to ride on downtown sidewalks.

The City of Evanston, Downtown Evanston and the Evanston Chamber of Commerce have invested much time and money in making the downtown a pedestrian-friendly place to shop, dine and do business. Bicyclists, please be courteous to Evanston residents and visitors and refrain from riding on the sidewalks in the downtown area. Everyone appreciates the effort to use a green mode of transit, but getting around on foot is a green mode, too. Senior citizens and mothers with young children will be especially thankful if the “no bikes on sidewalks” law is obeyed.

Contact Eco Gal at info@evanstonroundtable.com or ecogal247@yahoo.com.