Basic Bicycling Safety Tips

Safe bicycling requires the cyclist to follow the rules of the road. But even more than that, a safe bicyclist also abides by the following “unwritten” rules.

Look behind before changing lanes. This means looking back to check for cars or other cyclists. Even if you have a mirror you should still look over your shoulder because the mirror has a limited field of vision and won’t show you what’s going on right next to you.

Ride in a predictable fashion. That means following the rules of the road, and doing everything in your power to communicate to drivers and pedestrians what you are going to do next.

Ride as if you were invisible. This does not mean that you should BE invisible. This means you should not expect that drivers will see you. Leave enough room to move out of the way if a driver makes a sudden turn, pulls over or flings open a car door. Check and double check that you are noticed before making a turn.

Be seen. Wear bright colors, reflective tape or vests, have reflectors and lights on your bike, get a bike bell. These are all things you can do to increase your visibility. Even if you do not plan on riding at night, lights are still a good idea. If you are going to bicycle commuting through the fall it will be dark by the time you leave work!

See the road. Periodically look 100 feet ahead or hazards in the road such as potholes or debris.

Tips Before Your Ride
Wear a helmet. Helmets decrease the risk of head injuries by 85% when worn properly. Be sure to fasten your helmet snuggly under your chin, and wear it level on your head, not tilted back. A helmet is a protective device but there are some very stylish helmets out there. If youre concerned you wont look cool in a helmet check out some of the newer models. All helmets should be replaced after a crash that impacts the helmet. The helmet may still be damaged, even if you dont see any visible damage.

Get a check up. Both you and your bike need to be ready to ride. If you have any reason to be concerned about starting a new program of physical activity, you should consult your doctor. Bicycling is a great low-impact activity that can help you get your daily exercise without spending those boring hours at the gym. Your bike may need a check up, too.

Rules of the Road
In most states, bicycles are vehicles and they are treated just like cars, motorcycles, etc. So, just like a driver, there are laws that you have a responsibility to follow. The following three are the most important for day-to-day cycling:

  • Ride to the right and go with the traffic not against it. Riding against traffic makes you more likely to get hit. As you ride, keep to the far right of the lane you need to use. Try to give yourself about three feet between you and traffic and leave three feet between you and the parked cars. This way you can avoid dangers from either direction.
  • Obey all traffic laws. Just like a driver of an automobile you must follow traffic signals and road signs. This is for your safety.
  • Use hand signals to signal turns. The signals will help drivers predict where youre going next.

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