November 28, 2020

safely

On the desolate streets of Manhattan during the bleak early days of the pandemic, Rosemary Sigelbaum found that riding a bicycle to work at Lenox Hill Hospital offered a desperately needed respite from the stress of 12-hour days witnessing the worst of the coronavirus’s frightening effects.

“It was quiet, and on my way home it gave me time to decompress,” Ms. Sigelbaum said of her commute between the Upper East Side and her home on the Lower East Side.

Those empty avenues of late March have given way to the city’s usual cacophony of traffic, just as more people are discovering the advantages of cycling to work: no crowded subways, buses or shared taxis. Bicycle companies have posted out-of-stock notices for the first time in years. Sales in May skyrocketed 103 percent compared with a year earlier, according to the NPD Group, a research firm.

But as all those new bikers are discovering the joys of cycling, they’re also discovering the dangers of riding on two wheels, especially in cities.

Even before the pandemic, bicycle fatalities in New York nearly tripled last year, to 29, from 10 in 2018. This year, at least 14 people on bicycles have been killed. With more bikes plying the streets with cars, buses and trucks, there’s more pressure than ever to find ways to make the roads safer, for everyone.

The best safety measures are those that keep bicyclists and motor vehicles apart, advocates say. Many cycling advocates are trying to capitalize on the pandemic popularity of bicycles to push for more dedicated bike lanes.

It is “the primary method of addressing bicycle safety,” said Kyle Wagenschutz at People for Bikes, an advocacy group. Indeed, cities including Milan, Paris and New York have been adding miles of bike lanes this year, with more planned.

Still, bicycles and cars will have to get along, and safety researchers are increasingly looking to technology for answers.

Last fall in Turin — before that area of Italy became a pandemic epicenter — a wobbly cyclist skirted a line of parked cars on a jammed suburban street as a large sedan rapidly approached from behind. In the morning drizzle, the driver was focused on a four-way stop that was coming up. Suddenly a warning graphic flashed on a display above the dashboard, indicating that a bicyclist was directly ahead, and the driver slowed to give the rider more room.

Such encounters are part of a future vision of bicycle-to-vehicle communications that could help prevent accidents. The Turin demonstration, supported by Fiat Chrysler and the 5G Automotive Association trade group, involved a 5G wireless program meant to illustrate the advantages of high-speed communications among cars, bicycles, traffic systems and city infrastructure. (This has an alphabet soup nickname, C-V2X, for “cellular vehicle-to-everything.”)

The LINKS Foundation, a tech company, had outfitted the demo bicycle with a global navigation device to determine its precise location and a 5G transceiver to convey that information to nearby vehicles. The concept envisions a future where everything

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By Deanna Sclar

The most obvious reason to jack up a car is to change a tire, but other jobs, such as inspecting brakes, may also require you to get under the vehicle. Before you jack up your vehicle, observe the following safety precautions:

  • Use the jack only to get a vehicle off the ground, never to hold a vehicle in place.

  • Use jack stands when you work underneath your vehicle. People have been crushed to death when vehicles that were improperly secured fell on them.

  • Never jack up a vehicle without blocking the wheels to keep it from rolling. Use bricks, wooden wedges, or metal wheel chocks to block the wheels at the end of the car that isn’t being raised.

    If you’re changing a tire and you have nothing to block the wheels with, park near the curb with the wheels turned in. This may not keep you from getting hurt if the car rolls off the jack, but at least innocent motorists and pedestrians won’t have to deal with a runaway driverless vehicle!

  • Never change a tire on a freeway or highway. Call road service or an automobile association or hang a white rag or a white piece of paper out of the driver’s side window and wait for the highway patrol.

  • Always park a vehicle on level ground before you jack it up. If you get a flat tire on a hill and can’t coast to the bottom without killing the tire completely, park close to the curb, turn the wheels toward the curb, and block the downside wheels securely to prevent the car from rolling.

  • Put the car in Park (or in First if you have a manual transmission) and engage the parking brake before you jack up the vehicle.

After you’ve observed all the safety precautions, follow these steps to jack up a vehicle:

  1. Place the jack under the part of the vehicle that it should contact when raised. If you’re using jack stands, place them near the jack.

    If you place your jack incorrectly, you can injure your car. To find the proper place to position the jack for your particular vehicle, check your owner’s manual. If you don’t have a manual, ask the service department at your dealership to show you the proper placement.

  2. Lift the vehicle by using the jack.

    A scissor jack (a) and a hydraulic jack (b)A scissor jack (a) and a hydraulic jack (b)

    A scissor jack (a) and a hydraulic jack (b)

    If you have a scissor jack, insert the rod or wrench over the knob, and then crank. If you have a hydraulic jack, place the handle into the appropriate location and pump up and down. Use nice, even strokes, taking the jack handle from its lowest point to its highest point on each stroke to cut down on the labor involved.

  3. Place the jack stands under the vehicle, near where the jack is touching it. Raise the stands until they’re high enough to just fit under, and lock them in

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