Biking Across Kansas

BAK Safety Information

We are counting on you to help make this a safe and enjoyable ride!
In addition to route marking and SAG support, BAK provides access to first aid and other support during the ride. BAK support vehicles (and possibly some personal vehicles) will be clearly identified with the official BAK logo. State or local law enforcement are often in the area to assure motorists and cyclists are operating safely and lawfully. BAK support vehicles will be driving the course throughout the day, providing assistance when necessary.

First aid kits for minor medical needs (aspirin, moleskin, ointments, bandages, etc.) are located in official vehicles, at SAG stops and are carried by medic riders. The medics are volunteers. They are also on vacation like you. They can provide basic first aid and will suggest/arrange emergency services by contacting 911 for more serious events.

What BAK Expects From Its Cyclists
In this section, we’ll review some riding expectations; however, our biggest expectation is for you to have a fun, safe, trouble-free ride!
• Come to BAK physically and mentally prepared to ride the entire route.
Know the rules of the road (Kansas Statutes, basic bicycle etiquette, etc.)
• Wear a helmet! Helmets should be worn at all times when riding. Yes, this means wear a helmet even when riding in an overnight town.
• Prepare your bike before you arrive. Follow the checklist in your bicycle owner’s manual. Check the integrity of the frame, tires, wheel rims, spokes, and condition of brakes and brake-mounting hardware, at a minimum.
• Please refrain from using earphones and other audio devices at levels which prohibit you from hearing vehicles and other riders. This is for your safety and the safety of others.
• Stay calm if confronted by a motorist. Be respectful even if they are not. Contact 911 if necessary.
• Be aware of your surroundings at all times while riding or stopping along the route.
• When stopping, exit the road or path completely. Do not block traffic or other cycles.
• Inform someone (such as a riding partner) if you go off the route to explore, go swimming, hiking, etc. Remember, you are unsupported when you stray from the BAK route.

Riding a Bike in Kansas
Here are a few hallmarks of riding on Kansas roads with which you may not be familiar if you don’t ride here year-round. 

Traffic (General): We do our best to travel on the safest available road; however, Kansas roadways can be can be very busy. It is not always possible to take the road less traveled. This is often because there are few options to choose to get from point A to point B, especially on paved roads. Although it is legal in Kansas to ride two abreast, please ride single file whenever traffic or good sense requires it. Always break down to single file when vehicles approach from the rear. Call “car back” to your riding partners to help keep everyone safe and attentive. Riding with a mirror is strongly encouraged.

Traffic (Trucks): The Kansas trucking industry is a vital part of our state’s success. Trucks should be expected on all roads and at any time. Being aware of your surroundings and riding single file can provide additional safety when trucks are in the area. Keep to the right and provide plenty of room. Do not attempt to pass a turning truck (on the left or the right). If you feel you are harassed by a truck, do your best to get a description of the vehicle, but please do not approach the vehicle or driver. Contact law enforcement if necessary.

Snakes: When riding or stopping, keep a sharp eye out for snakes, especially when in western Kansas.

Stickers, Thorns and other Sharp Objects: These can be anywhere, especially when you leave the road. Be aware, keep your eyes on the roadway and check your tires often, especially after leaving the roadway.

Roadkill: There will be an occasional “unlucky” animal in your path. Be on the lookout and call out the obstruction when riding with others.

Basic Bicycle Safety
BAK's number one priority is the safety of all our participants. We also know the caliber of rider that BAK attracts, so it's a bit like preaching to the choir. However, even the most responsible and law-abiding cyclists could use a fresh reminder of bicycle rules and etiquette. The following covers an incomplete but broad spectrum of safety information. 

It’s always a good idea to keep identification and medical Information on your person when riding. This includes a photo ID, medical insurance card, notice of adverse reaction to medicine, and emergency contact information. In addition, you may want to carry a small personal first aid kit in a zipper-closure bag with some bandages, alcohol wipes, and ibuprofen. If you have allergy issues, you should carry the appropriate medicine for treatment.

Helmets should be worn at all times when cyclists are on bikes, whether on the road or in host community. Nasty spills have even occurred in school parking lots. Don’t take a chance. A helmet that fits properly is one of the most important items you'll bring to the ride. These tips will help you stay comfortable and safe:

• Make sure that the helmet fits on top of the head, not tipped back or to the side.
• Find the smallest helmet shell size that fits over your head.
• Fit the helmet without the help of a lot of pads--don't make up for a size too large!
• Leave about a two-finger width between your eyebrows and the helmet on your forehead.
• Adjust the side straps under each ear so that the bottom of the “v” hits at the jawbone.
• Snug the buckle with your mouth completely open. You should be able to fit two fingers snugly under the chin strap.

Mirrors are highly recommended! They can be mounted on your glasses, helmet or on your handlebars and can help you protect yourself from other riders as well as traffic.

A red rear blinker light is recommended for use at all times on the road. A white front light is also advisable for early mornings and overcast conditions.

Be prepared to repair your own tires while en route. We recommend that you carry the basic tools including tire levers, a patch kit, an extra tube and air (pump or cylinders). Extra tools (Allen® wrenches, spoke wrench, chain tool, etc.) are a great idea if you have room in your seat bag or handlebar bag. 

It is the responsibility of every cyclist to share the road. When riding, please be considerate and do the following:

• Be predictable. Your actions affect those around you, not just yourself.
• Ride to the right and single file as much as possible. Leave room for faster riders to pass on the left.
• Pass slower moving vehicles/bikes on the left. Announce your intention to do so by calling “on your left.”
• Avoid surprise movements, whether side to side, while turning, or rapid changes in speed.
• Ride straight and at a constant speed.
• Signal and verbally announce your intention to turn, slow down or stop before you do so.
• Hold left or right arm straight out to indicate left or right turn (alternate signal for right turn is left arm out and up). Hold left arm out and down with palm to the rear to indicate stopping.
• Point down on either side to indicate a hazard. It is also helpful to loudly say “ROCK,” “HOLE,” or BUMP” to alert riders behind you. Remember if you’re riding closely together or in a pace line, riders behind you are looking at your rear wheel and not the rock, hole, or bump in the road.
• Watch and listen for traffic from the rear and front.
• Announce “CAR BACK" or “CAR UP" clearly and loudly when necessary to alert the other riders around you.
• Be responsible for checking cross traffic. Use extreme caution at intersections, and always obey the traffic signs. Never follow others through intersections without scanning the intersection yourself.
• If you are the first rider in a group, call out turns and stops in addition to signaling.
• If you are the last rider in a group, frequently check for overtaking cars. Announce turns before the intersections to give riders a chance to position themselves.
• On narrow roads or during climbs, consider extra spacing as motorists may attempt to pass you.
• When stopping for any reason, always move clear off the road.
• Always look and listen for vehicles and bikes before getting back on the road.
• Always yield to vehicle traffic in the roadway.
• Ride single file as much as necessary for safety or courtesy.

Pacing, Drafting and Close-Formation Riding

• Drafting (following closely behind another rider) cuts down on wind resistance.
• Only draft off of someone if you know and trust their riding style or experience.
• Always inform the rider in front that you are on their wheel.
• Maintain appropriate spacing between you and the next wheel.
• Do not draft on high traffic roads or roads with frequent intersections.
• Ride at the same speed as the rest of the riders. If you are stronger, spend more time at the front.
• To move from the front, check traffic, pull out to the left and drift to the back.
• Entering the road as a group can be dangerous and must be done only when conditions permit.
• Do not slow down until you are completely clear of the rider behind you. The second rider is now the leader and provides draft for allotted time or designated distance.
• If you are the front rider, communicate obstacles to riders behind.
• If you are the last rider, watch the traffic behind and alert others.
• Pay close attention to those ahead and behind; be able to react safely and quickly. There is very little room for error when riding very close to others. If you crash in a paceline, there is a high potential to start a domino effect. You may knock down riders behind you, so please use extra caution.