Safety is first and foremost when hitting the roads for a ride. City biking requires an extra level of concern as bikers share crowded roads with cars, trucks, trains, and pedestrians. Check out these following tips to stay safe when you cycle.
Dress With Safety in Mind
Your cycling safety begins with what you wear. A properly fitting helmet should always be worn when on the roads to prevent severe and potentially fatal head injuries should an accident occur. Wear bright-colored clothing to help others on the road identify you when riding. Reflective tape, patches, and vests are also a great way to stand out on the road. Lastly, when it comes to clothing be sure to tuck in any loose-fitting or dangling material such as your shoe laces and pant legs so they do not get caught in your bike.
In addition to wardrobe, gear can affect your cycling safety. Make sure you are riding the right size bike for your height. Nearly all bike manufacturers publish sizing charts to help riders choose the right bicycle for their stature. If you are riding a bike that’s too small for your frame your bike handling and control will suffer as a result.
If you plan to cycle at night, a reflective wardrobe is crucial along with front and rear bike lights. No matter the season, bicyclist deaths occur most often between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Obey The Rules of the Road
Cycling can make you feel free, but it’s important to remember when riding that you are subject to the same rules of the roads as larger vehicles. Riding fundamentals include stopping at signs and lights, riding with the flow of traffic, and yielding to pedestrians and other vehicles. When near other pedestrians, vehicles, or cyclists maintain a safe distance and ride single file. Do not ride close to the curb or on sidewalks unless no other safe option is available.
Ride With Confidence
Be a confident, not cocky, cyclist. Wobbly and uncertain riders can make motorists nervous. Cycle at a safe speed that allows you to feel in control and react quickly should circumstances unexpectedly change. Be ready to brake should this happen by keeping your hands on or near the brake levers. When riding in busy traffic choose a straightforward course and avoid weaving in and out of objects on the road.
Stay Alert and Aware
Being confident and in control of your cycling is one thing, but what others on the road do is entirely out of your realm. You should always ride as if others cannot see you. Being alert and aware will allow you to react to changes on the road in the quickest and safest manner to avoid accidents. Awareness is futile if you are not alert while riding. Make sure you are properly fueled before riding, and have backup should you feel fatigued. Plan your route ahead of time to note safe areas for rest and refuel.
Awareness is key at intersections, as most cycling accidents occur in these crossroads. Be sure to communicate with motorists through hand signals and friendly eye contact. Watch out for driveways, alleys, and sharp bends in the road that can also be trouble spots. Lastly, be mindful of driver’s blind spots when turning, especially with semi-trucks and larger vehicles. Proactively place yourself out of the blind spot area.
Should you find yourself approaching a precarious situation be sure to make yourself known by honking or ringing your bike bell, yelling, or whistling.
Practice your safety plan so it becomes routine when you ride. If you are a novel cyclist start small before moving into heavily congested areas. Cycling is a fantastic sport that not only allows you to stay healthy, but also is a ‘green’ way to tour some of the world’s most beautiful sights. However, none of this will be achievable without keeping safety in mind!