QUESTION: I have recently begun to ride a bicycle for exercise. I really like this activity except for the fear I have about being hit by a car. Would you give me some hints about bike safety and caution motorists about bikers?

ANSWER: I too have been riding a bike for exercise and understand your concerns. I really appreciate the motorists who slow down when they pass and who try to allow room between their car and me when they pass. The dangers involved are clear - you could be hit by a car or get thrown off the bike because of some road hazard.For safety's sake, every cyclist should wear a helmet that meets recommended safety standards and should follow traffic rules. Cyclists should also try to find less-traveled roads and stay to the right as far as possible to avoid conflict with traffic. Be especially careful going through intersections. With all the confusion, it is often difficult for drivers to see cyclists. Watch side traffic carefully. It is a good idea to slow down and establish eye contact with the driver before going past. Cyclists must also watch carefully for holes in the road and for rocks. Even dogs and kids present some challenge.

I think cyclists must be alert and stay way ahead of their bikes to ride safely. I would also caution motorists to be extra careful when cyclists are around.

QUESTION: I want to buy an exercise machine to use indoors. I have thought about ordering a cross-country ski machine, but I don't know how to ski. Would you please give me some guidelines for buying something to use indoors?

ANSWER: I answered a similar question in December of last year. However, I have received so many inquiries about indoor exercise equipment, I decided to make a brief comment about this issue again.

As a general rule, you will be happier and more successful maintaining an exercise program if you choose an activity that you enjoy doing and buy equipment that allows you to do that activity either indoors or out. For instance, if you like to ride a bicycle on good days, you should have a cycle ergometer for your indoor activity. If you like to cross-country ski in the winter, a ski machine would be a great indoor choice. If you walk outside in good weather, buy an inexpensive treadmill for your indoor exercise requirements. Of course, if you don't care about getting "good" at any one kind of activity, you could have a cycle ergometer for indoor use and change the activity to walking or jogging when you go out.

There are surely advantages to having some type of cardiovascular exercise capability indoors, even in good weather. There are always days when there is simply not enough time to take care of your exercise needs during the daylight hours. On those days, you can come home and use your indoor equipment while watching the news or reading a book. I am amazed at how many times I use my indoor cycle, even during the spring and summer.