CYCLING WITHOUT GETTING ACCIDENTS
By Ivan Baliboola
Just like any other machine in Uganda. A bicycle needs to be operated with extra caution. This article looks at minimizing injuries from my personal experience of riding an Apollo bicycle.
Most Ugandan roads are narrow and don't have defined cycling lanes. Watch out for other reckless road users. A cyclist should always be on the lookout for Boda Boda cyclists, commuter taxis, and skaters. They enter the road anyhow.
Be patient as other road users clear the way. Don't be an aggressive cyclist if you don't want injuries. For example don't think you can maneuver along trucks.
Brakes. This is something a cyclist should check before they even mount a bicycle. Faulty brakes can lead to terrible accidents resulting in injuries. Even when the brakes are in perfect working conditions, they can still cause accidents. For example if the front brakes are randomly applied on a slope, it could flip over.
Changing and applying gears. This is a normal cycling procedure but it brings about unstableness which may cause injuries. It is always advisable to move from one gear to another at a time. Don't move from one to seven at once. Sometimes you can park and people change the gears. So you come back to start the bicycle and it throws you off. Before you ride, ensure the gears are in position matching with gear numbers on the handle bar.
Bicycle seat. Seat is very important on any bicycle. If not properly adjusted, it can lead to knee and back pains. Also if it's not tightened, it could throw the rider off. The bicycle seat must be aligned above the handle bar.
PIC: A cyclist checks his bike to ensure it is in good condition for the journey
Protective wear. To reduce on the injuries while cycling, it's important to wear quality protective wear like a helmet, gloves, knee guards, and elbow guards. Protective wear reduces on the extent of injuries and recovery if there is an accident. It's a Ugandan thing to be daring.
Even after laws of wearing taxis seatbelts and motorcycle helmets being implemented, it's not culture yet. Don't underestimate what the impact the gloves can absorb when you have an accident. Prepare for bad weather if you are cycling. Invest in nice riding glasses just in case you come face to face with insects or mud.
Be visible to other road users. Make sure other people see you while on the road so you are not involved in accidents. Ensure that reflective lights or stickers are properly fitted on your bicycle.
Have a functional horn at all times while riding. In Uganda people just cross like cattle without looking right or left. The horn helps you clear the road even when you are at a high speed.
The condition of your bicycle may contribute to over 25% of accidents. Ensure your bicycle is serviced regularly. Ensure your pedals have firm grip lines. Wear the right shoes with stockings as you ride. Also make sure the pedal sits in the middle of the shoe you are wear. Consider fitting riding mirrors so you are always on the lookout of people behind you rather than turning to look at the back.
The writer is a public relations and organisational diagnosis specialist