If it’s May, it must be National Bicycle Month! Is your bike road ready?


bicycle month

There are a few sure signs of spring – the swallows return to Capistrano, the trees begin to bud, and you see more bicycles on the road. To kick off the season, May is National Bike Month – time to get your bike tuned up so you can participate in Bike to School Day on May 10, Bike to Work Week from May 15-19 and Bike to Work Day on May 19!

And as part of our spring ritual, we like to gather some good resources for everything you need to know to have bike ship-shape and road-ready for the good weather ahead.

Popular Mechanics offers a handy pictorial guide to 9 things to do to check your bicycle for spring.

Check out our prior post on ensuring you get the right fit on bike helmets — particularly important for kid riders. We sourced some excellent guides to get you up to speed on bike helmet safety.

Don’t let your season be ruined by theft. Check out our posts on protecting your bicycle from bike thieves and get the scoop on what you need to know about insurance for your bike to protect your investment.

It’s also a good idea to brush up on bicycle safety – a 2014 report on biking fatalities shows the high risk groups and problems that can occur. Bike safety is important for everybody but particularly important for kids – check out these handy resources.

See our 2016 Bike Month tool kit post for links to bike clubs in New England and some helpful videos for prepping your bike for the season.

A just-for-fun springtime post: Dancing cows


We didn’t set out to make our blog theme for the spring be “animals on parade” but sometimes on the web, you just have to take advantage of the fun and interesting things that surface. A few weeks ago, we brought you the story of 1,000 working ducks. Today, we can’t resist this story of a group of happy, dancing cows.

In an annual seasonal ritual, a farm in the Netherlands celebrates the springtime with something they call “Koeiendans” which, as near as we can tell, is Dutch for “cow dancing.” It marks the first day after a long winter being cooped up that the cows are let out of the barn to frolic in the fields – and frolic they do. Check out how they express their delight at seeing all that lovely, fresh green grass by kicking up their heels. Who’d have guessed that cows could be quite so light on their feet? I think most of us in New England can relate to the happy feeling that the end of winter and the start of beautiful spring weather inspires!

We’re posting one clip for 2017 and one for 2016 – but if you must have more, you can check out the farm’s YouTube channel for spring cow dancing back to 2012.

And before we share the clips – we can’t resist a little plug for supporting your local family farms this growing season – eat local, eat fresh. And if these clips motivate you, consider a farm or ranch stay for your next vacation: Here’s a regional guide to New England Farm & Ranch Stays.

Mobile security: Protecting yourself while on the go


At the tail end of 2016, we crossed an internet usage threshold to little fanfare: Worldwide, more people used phones and tablets to access the web than conventional computers like desktops and laptops. Mobile use is averaging more than three hours a day or email usage, texting, engaging with apps and social media and surfing the web.

Here’s one big problem: As more people move to mobile, so do the bad guys who want to exploit this boom. And while most desktop users have some form of security on their computers, the same is not true for mobile device users. While this security report is from a year ago, things haven’t changed much and the statistics are grim:

The report found that only 32 percent of iPad users had security software installed on their devices, and 26 percent of iPhone users said the same. For those owning Android tablets, 65 percent said they had security software installed, while 60 percent of Android smartphone owners have security software installed. 83 percent of Windows-based tablet owners and 44 percent Windows Phone owners reported having security software installed.

If you think about the threat, it’s pretty scary. Most of us carry an enormous amount of personal information on our phones – just think about what you do on your phone: banking, bill paying, shopping, texting, searching, emailing, using apps. And it’s not just hackers we have to worry about accessing this private data – millions of phones are lost or stolen every year.

This short video from Kaspersky Lab, one of the largest global cybersecurity and anti-virus providers, shows the evolving threat.

Kaspersky talks about the Top 7 Mobile Security Threats: Smart Phones, Tablets, & Mobile Internet Devices – What the Future has in Store. The article identifies and describes the most serious threats, which include data leakage, unsecured WI-fi, network spoofing, phishing attacks, spyware, broken cryptography, and improper session handling.

To combat these threat, see 8 Ways to Increase Your Mobile Security Without Slowing It Down, which outlines 8 excellent best practice security tips. Malwarebytes, an excellent anti-malware software provider offers advice on the Top 10 ways to secure your mobile phone. The article notes that third party apps and lack of timely operating system updates are serious threats.

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Last minute Halloween tips


Looking for some last minute Halloween costume ideas? PropertyCasualty 360 offers 8 insurance-inspired costume ideas. Whatever your disguise or your way of celebrating, we remind you to make it a safe weekend … we offer a helpful animated message from Ma.Gov.Com  along with Halloween Safety Tips for Trick-or-Treaters and Adults.

ma-gov-halloweenBelow we have more tips from experts and from our archives on keeping kids safe as well as advice for keeping your property safe and reducing your own liability. Plus, a few posts just for fun!

Halloween tips from our archives

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Everything you need to celebrate Bike Month


May is National Bike Month, time to dust off your bicycle and pull it out of the garage if you haven’t already. Get it out now – we’re getting close to National Bike to Work Week from May 16-20 and Bike to Work Day on May 20!

Here are a few local bike sites that have coordinated activities

We have a checklist of resources to help you get ready for the season:

First, brush up on your state’s bike laws

Next, the League of American bicyclists offers a short video on a Basic Bike Check

Be sure your bike helmet fits right

And don’t forget to make sure you have sufficient insurance for your bike and protect your bicycle from bike thieves