When spring rolled around, Dorian Grilley had a new bike to pull out of his garage -- and a new helmet.

Grilley, executive director of the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota, had good reason to pay special attention to his headgear: A bike accident last fall left him hospitalized for three weeks.

"A helmet saved my life," said Grilley. "I was hit by a car while going across a crosswalk. The driver pled guilty to careless driving."

The accident destroyed his helmet, he said, leaving him little doubt about what would have happened if he hadn't been wearing it. After four months of physical therapy and five fused vertebrae, he's back on the roads.

Grilley can't look up the same way he used to, but he's just as careful as he used to be, "but it's hard to anticipate when someone's going to do three illegal things at once."

With May being Bike Safety Month, he's advising Twin Cities bikers to be extra cautious as they head out. And it's a growing number of bikers out there; Minneapolis recently surpassed Portland as Bicycling magazine's No. 1 bike city.

Here's what's new to keep you and your family safe on your bikes:


Pinch-free helmets: If you've ever clipped a kid's chin while strapping on a helmet, you know what a struggle it is to get them to wear it again. Nutcase Helmets (www.nutcasehelmets.com) has introduced a one-handed, magnetic buckle on all of its new Gen 2 helmets that's designed not to pinch. The fun, kid-friendly designs don't hurt, either. For cold-weather riding -- and for kids riding in trailers -- the contoured shape transitions from skiing and snowboarding in winter to biking and skateboarding in summer. Some brands have a removable liner that provides extra warmth in winter.


Reflective tires: They add bling (and visibility) to your sidewalls. (Check your local bike store.)


The tiny Knog Skink light: It runs on two triple-A batteries and has an easy-on, easy-off silicon strap to attach to handlebars or a seat. (www.amazon.com)


Interactive ID bracelet: The new version of the popular wrist/shoe band (www.roadid.com) allows riders to update emergency and medical information online. It gives emergency responders access to a toll-free number or website for identification and medical information.


New laws: As of 2010, if you're stuck at a red light and unable to trip the signal, you're allowed to proceed through it -- after yielding to cross traffic, of course.


The Midtown Greenway: Stop signs were switched from the trail to the road at intersections where bicycle traffic is higher than motor traffic -- meaning you can cruise from Uptown to Midtown even faster. While there's no speed limit on the Greenway (unlike trails maintained by Minneapolis Parks and Recreation), program manager Theresa Nelson encourages respect for other users who may be going slower. Indicate when you're going to pass, and pass on the left.

  • Sheila Mulrooney Eldred is a Twin Cities freelance writer.