Riding a bicycle is a free, healthy, enjoyable, and eco-friendly way to get around. It’s becoming more popular, especially for big-city residents, to bike as their primary way of transportation.
It’s an excellent solution for people of all ages to exercise and maintain their health while protecting the environment from air pollutants produced by cars. However, as with any method of transportation, there are certain risks associated with cycling.
Continue reading to learn how to enjoy your bicycle and stay safe on the road.
Wear a Helmet
Wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle can protect you from head traumas and a possible brain injury in the event of an accident.
Adults and children of all ages should wear helmets. In fact, many states implement child bicycle helmet laws to increase and better ensure the safety of children when bicycling. Additionally, helmets must be certified by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
It is important that the helmet fits properly without being too big. It should be positioned one or two finger-widths above your eyebrow and strapped tightly under the chin and on the sides.
Check Your Equipment Before You Ride
Normally, you would check your car before a long trip to make sure that it is ready to take the drive without breaking down on the road. The same tactic should be applied before getting on your bicycle. Make sure that your tires are inflated properly, and your seat is adjusted and locked in place to promote stability.
Additionally, equip your bike with reflectors on the rear, front, pedals, and spokes to make yourself more visible. You can also add a horn, a rear-view mirror, and a headlight to ensure maximum safety and preparation.
Wear Reflective Materials
Riding your bicycle throughout the day is safest since you are more noticeable to others in traffic. At night, bikes are more difficult to spot since they’re smaller than other vehicles. Therefore, bikes are more likely to end up in a crash because of low visibility.
Wear bright-colored clothes and a neon safety reflective vest if you must ride at night. In addition to reflective clothing, you can use reflective tape to stick to your frame, bag, or helmet to ensure maximum visibility.
If you want to stay safe on the road while riding at night, using your lights is the best way to do so. The type of light used depends on whether you want to see better or be seen by oncoming traffic.
For example, a handlebar light throws light on the road before you and helps other vehicles see you better. On the other hand, a helmet light enables you to see better by illuminating your field vision. Lastly, a rear light makes you visible from behind.
Know Your Signals and Use Them
Using signals while cycling is equally important for communicating with other road users as if you are driving a car. It lets other participants in the traffic know when you plan to turn or stop.
If you want to signal a turn, extend your left or right arm, based on the direction you’re turning. You can either extend your arm sideways with all fingers or point with your index finger to the desired direction.
To stop or slow down, extend your left or right arm sideways and bend your elbow. Then, point your hand downward with the palm of your hand facing backward.
Limit Your Distractions
To stay safe on the road, make sure that you’re using your vision and hearing to their fullest potential. Therefore, you need to avoid getting distracted and pay attention to the road instead.
One way to do that is to limit the usage of headphones to listen to music while riding. Loud music can prevent you from hearing when vehicles are honking at you or other cars. Additionally, listening to music can limit your ability to hear ambulance or police sirens.
Another possible distraction while cycling can be holding a mobile device. Hand-held gadgets shift your focus away from the road and prevent you from seeing traffic signs or potential danger.
Ride as if You are in a Car
Cyclists generally follow the same rules of the road as other motor vehicles. They need to obey traffic laws, which means that they are equally responsible for stopping at red lights and stop signs and signaling for turns.
Always make sure to ride in the direction of traffic and to stay alert. This way of riding decreases the likelihood of ending up in an accident and getting injured.
Use Dedicated Bike Lanes
Bikers can ride on designated bike lanes to ride safely without interfering with traffic. Generally, they are located on the right side of the road and follow the direction of traffic.
Bike lanes separate cyclists from other motor vehicles. They provide cyclists the opportunity to ride at a speed they feel comfortable with without congesting the road or becoming an obstacle for other cars.
Unfortunately, bike lanes are not always available, especially on roads with less traffic. However, bikers should use them whenever possible to increase safety while cycling.
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