On the third Tuesday of every month, Salem Bicycle Club members get together to socialize with fellow members and to learn about new events, issues and interesting places to ride.

“This past year featured a panel discussion with representatives from legal [organizations,], ODOT, businesses and even victims of bicycle accidents,” said Patrick McDowell, president of the Salem Bicycle Club. “[They were] trying to promote safer accident-free bicycling. It was well-attended and received.”

McDowell, a long-time bicycle rider, joined the Salem Bicycle Club for the opportunity to ride with other like-minded people.

“It turned out much better than I hoped for,” he said.
Every weekend, a member of the club leads fellow bikers on a tour through the local area. Bicycle tours, with distances ranging from 15 to 135 miles, feature levels of difficulty ranging from flat to very hilly. Novice bike riders are advised to ride simple routes or those that do not exceed 50 miles. More experienced riders have no restrictions on what rides they can participate in.

These restrictions are a way to ensure safety, which is one of the club’s top concerns.

“We make sure everyone on a club ride has a helmet and knows a few basic hand signals that warn [fellow riders] of glass or debris hazards when riding,” McDowell said.

In addition to the weekly rides, the club sponsors three annual events with all proceeds going to various bicycle-oriented organizations. The upcoming Peach Ride, being held on September 24, is the third event of the year. Participants will be given peach pie at the designated rest stops.

The Peach Ride features a “Century” route (100 miles) and a “Metric Century” route (62 miles). Both routes start and end at Chemeketa Community College. The 100-mile route takes riders on a tour through Jefferson, Roaring River, Mehama and Stayton. The 62-mile route takes bicyclists through Jefferson and Stayton. Those wishing to participate in this event must register before September 18. In 2004, more than 650 riders participated in this ride.

Anyone is welcome to join as long as he or she shares an affinity for bicycling and a willingness to support fellow cyclists and motorists on the road.

“Our club promotes responsible riding, such as obeying traffic signs, adherence to bicycle lanes when applicable, and courtesy toward vehicle drivers by not riding where traffic is impeded,” McDowell said.

The Oregon Legislature has raised bicycle safety awareness by passing the “three foot rule,” which specifies how close a motor vehicle can come to a bicyclist or pedestrian.

The Salem Bicycle Club donates funds to different local, state and national organizations that promote bicycling and safety. To join, visit the Web site at www.salembicycleclub.org to obtain a membership form and mail it to P.O. Box 2224, Salem, OR 97308. Annual membership dues are $15 for individuals and $20 for families.