Bring on the bikes

Cyclists on base are required to have certain saftey equipment in order to ride on base.  This eqipment serves to increase the cyclists' visability to motor vehicles as well as protection in the event of a crash.

Cyclists on base are required to have certain saftey equipment in order to ride on base. This eqipment serves to increase the cyclists' visability to motor vehicles as well as protection in the event of a crash.

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- It's no secret that warmer weather is on the way.  As temperatures go up, many will take thier bicycles down, off the hooks in garages and sheds, and hit the streets.

Many Whiteman members have discovered the benefits of riding their bicycles, combining the commute with a workout, and a little recreational release.

According to the Web site bikeforums.net, an hour-long bike ride can burn anywhere from 300 to 1,000 calories, depending on the intensity, and can be an excellent means to cardiovascular exercise.

Another benefit is monetary. Nationally, the average price of regular gasoline is $2.82 per gallon. An average mid-size car will get around 15 miles per gallon in town. Figuring eight miles a day, that adds up to $549 annually that riders can spend on doughnuts and Yoo-Hoos rather than fuel. While not a substantial amount, there are also savings to be had on maintenance and insurance.

Along with the benefits, comes a little risk. There has only been one bicycle fatality in the whole Air Force in the past three years, compared to hundreds of motor-vehicle fatalities. While not the most dangerous thing a person could do to on two wheels, there are some common-sense rules cyclists must follow on base.

"Riding on base is much safer, because the drivers are generally going slower, and are more alert," said Tech. Sgt. Juan Ramirez, 509th Bomb Wing safety office. "Even if you are doing something wrong, motorists on base will usually give you the right of way."

Here are the guidelines for riding a bicycle on base, courtesy of the 509th Bomb Wing Safety Office.

Mandatory bicycle safety gear:

During day light hours:

Helmets are required
   Fastened chin strap - snug, not tight.
   No hat under helmet.

During hours of darkness:

Headlamp for forward illumination.
Visible rear reflector or LED lamp.
Reflective vest, belt, or outer garment in uniform and civilian clothes.
   Reflective gear must not be covered by back pack or coat, ect.
   Back packs should have their own reflective belt.

Bicycle traffic laws

Ride in single-file on right side of the road.
Obey the same traffic laws as motor vehicles.
Use correct hand signals.
   Left arm pointed up for RIGHT TURN.
   Left arm pointed outward for LEFT TURN.
   Left arm point down for STOP. 
Cyclists will receive the same penalties that apply to motor vehicles.
Use designated bicycle paths where available.
Do not ride on sidewalks, except for base housing. Walk your bicycles while on sidewalks anywhere else.
No headphones in either ear.