Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Bicycling Safely On The Blue Ridge Parkway

As temperatures begin to cool a bit, more and more people are planning bicycling day trips and tours on the Blue Ridge Parkway and other National Park areas across the country.  Here are some simple rules that will help make your trip a safe one.

·         Wear a bicycle helmet

·         Be sure your bicycle is in good operating condition.

.          Carry a spare tube and tools for minor repairs.

·         Wear high visibility clothing.  It sets you apart from the scenery and more visible to motorists.

·         Carry a cellular phone to report emergencies but remain aware that there are many dead spots with no cell coverage in many National Park areas.  You may need to change locations to make a call.

·         Avoid riding during periods of low visibility.  Fog and rain may occur unpredictably.  Reschedule your trip or allow time for flexibility to ride during periods of better weather conditions.

·         Use caution when riding through tunnels.  There are 26 tunnels in North Carolina and 1 tunnel in Virginia.  It is recommended that you have an illuminated light on the front of your bike and light or reflectors on the rear.
·         Temperatures vary greatly with elevation and aspect changes in mountainous areas.

      Wear clothing in layers.  Hypothermia can be deadly, so take precautions to prevent it.

·         Safe drinking water is available on a seasonal basis at park facilities.  Many parks will winterize water lines and systems by the end of October.  Be sure to check on what facilities are open and bring adequate water with you.  Do not drink unpurified water from streams and springs within even the most pristine park areas.  There are no areas within the United States now free from bacteria that will wreak havoc with your digestive system.

·         Make an honest evaluation of your abilities before beginning a bicycle trip.  Do your research and determine what elevation changes you will be challenged by.  As an example you can find such information for the Blue Ridge Parkway at:

·         When cycling with a group, adjust your spacing to be single file and allow for motor vehicles to pass safely.

If driving a motor vehicle rather than pedaling a bicycle, be alert for cyclists and be sure to

Although most roadways through National Park areas do not allow commercial vehicles and large trucks you will still encounter tour buses, motor homes, and vehicles pulling trailers.  Be alert for such traffic and always assume that a possible hazard may be around each blind curve.

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