Top 5 Safety Tips When Traveling By Bike
Riding a bike requires skills like bike handling and safe interaction in and around traffic. Careless riding and other biking-related factors can be dangerous, especially when riding near or on the road or highway. You can utilize the following tips to stay safe while riding your bike.
1. Use Safety Equipment
Every rider, regardless of age or skill level, should wear a helmet whenever they ride a bicycle. A certified, properly fitted helmet protects the head and reduces the risk of injury during an accident or fall.
Another thing you can do to keep yourself safe is to make it easy for drivers on the road to see you. During the day wear brightly-colored clothing or a reflective vest to make yourself more visible. At night use a white front light and a red rear light, so drivers can identify you and tell which way you are traveling.
2. Remember the Rules of the Road
Bicycles are considered vehicles, just like a car. On the road cyclists are expected to follow the same rules as other drivers. Ride with the flow of traffic and obey road signs, just like you would if you were driving a car. Make your intentions known to other drivers by using hand signals before you turn or stop.
3. Stay Alert
The best way to potentially avoid accidents on your bike is to ride defensively. Don’t expect drivers of other vehicles to go out of their way for your sake; always assume that every driver can’t see you. That way if a driver really doesn’t see you, you are prepared to maneuver to hopefully avoid having an accident.
Avoid using devices like cell phones or loud music players while riding your bike. These things are distracting and can pull your attention away from a hazard on the road. Use only one side of the headphones, at a low volume, if you do decide to listen to music while riding. You should always be able to hear what’s going on around you, for example oncoming and rearward approaching cars.
4. Watch the Terrain
A rough or uneven surface can cause you to lose your balance or lose control of your bike. Always be on the lookout for potholes, storm grates, sand, gravel and other roadway conditions that might be hazardous. If bike paths or trails are available in your community, use them as a way to keep yourself away from traffic when you go for a spin..
Riding on the sidewalk is illegal in certain states, and even if it is legal in your area it can be dangerous to both you and any pedestrians nearby. If you must travel on the sidewalk be sure to announce your intentions to pass a pedestrian before you do so. Even if you are riding on an authorized bike trail or path, if there are many pedestrians in a certain area it may be best to just dismount and walk your bike until the path clears up again.
Also, be sure to ride slowly and to watch for cars as you pass driveways and parking lot entrances/exits. Remember, you have to ride your bike as if a driver of a car can not see you. These locations on the road are unfortunately notorious for car and bike accidents. Use extreme caution in these areas.
Keep in mind that practice makes perfect. No one becomes an expert bike handler overnight. In order to ride your bike safely through high traffic or navigate rough terrain on the trails, you’re going to need the practice and bike handling experience necessary to do so.
A good place to practice is a safe environment away from traffic – maybe a sub-division that’s open to the public, an empty lot or your local park. You can also check with your city’s recreation department or a local bike shop to see if they know of any bike groups that you can join. Typically these groups have instructors or seasoned professionals that you can learn a trick or two from. As a bonus, it is also a great way to meet fellow cycle enthusiasts.
Riding a bike can be potentially dangerous. Anyone that follows the sport of cycling knows that even professionals suffer severe accidents.
However, many cycling accidents occur because either the cyclists or the motorists fail to follow the rules of the road. Riding defensively and exhibiting adequate bike handling skills are the best ways to make sure you stay safe and have fun when you are out for a ride on your two-wheel machine.