The number of Americans riding bicycles has increased steadily for nearly a decade. With the increase in popularity has come an increase in the number of people killed while riding their bicycles. The most common cause of death for bicyclists is head injuries, and most of those deaths could be prevented with a helmet. A helmet can reduce the risk of a head injury by as much as 85%.
While helmets are the single most important safety gear for a bicyclist, they are not the only thing you need to be aware of. Here are some other safety tips to keep in mind when you’re out on your bike:
Follow The Rules Of The Road
Bicycles are considered vehicles according to the law, and bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists. This includes following all traffic laws, such as stopping at stop signs and red lights, riding on the right side of the road, and using hand signals when turning.
If you’re not familiar with the local traffic laws, be sure to do some research before hitting the open road. Many resources are available online, including your state’s Department of Transportation website. Even when you become a victim of a car-bike accident, you may be held partially at fault if you weren’t following the rules of the road.
Luckily, good lawyers exist who fight for justice for cyclists and can help you even if you make a mistake. However, it would help if you familiarize yourself with the law and would help keep you safe while cycling, and it could also help you avoid a ticket.
Make yourself as visible as possible when riding your bicycle. Wear bright clothing during the day, and if you’re riding at night, wear reflective gear and use lights. Headlights and taillights are required by law in some states, so be sure to check your local laws before hitting the road.
You can also make your bicycle more visible by attaching reflective tape to the frame and wheels. This will help ensure that you’re seen by drivers, even when they might not be expecting to see a bicyclist on the road.
Use Proper Lane Positioning
When riding in traffic, it’s important to use proper lane positioning to stay safe. You should always ride in the same lane as the cars and stay as far to the right as possible. This will allow you to see and be seen by motorists and help you avoid getting hit by opening car doors.
If there is a bike lane available, you should use it. Bike lanes are designed specifically for bicyclists, providing a safe, separated space for cyclists to ride. Check for obstacles before entering a bike lane, and always use caution when riding in one.
Inspect Your Bike Regularly
Bicycles are a great way to get around; with a little TLC, they can last for years. Here are some tips on inspecting your bike regularly and keeping it in good condition.
- Check the brakes – The brake pads should be in good condition and make contact with the wheel’s rim when applying pressure to the brake levers. If they don’t, you’ll need to adjust them.
- Check the tires – The tires should be properly inflated and have no cuts or bulges. You can check the inflation level by pressing down on the center of the tire with your thumb – it should give slightly but quickly return to its original shape. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to add air.
- Check for chain damage – The chain should be free of rust and damage. You’ll need to clean and lubricate the chain if you see any.
- Check the handlebars and stem – The handlebars and stem should be securely attached to the bike frame. There shouldn’t be any cracks or damage visible. If you see any, you’ll need to replace them before riding again.
- Check the pedals – The pedals should be securely attached to the crank arms and spin freely. If they don’t, you’ll need to adjust them.
Even if you’re following all the rules of the road and using proper safety gear, there’s always the possibility that you could get into an accident. The best way to avoid an accident is to ride defensively and be aware of your surroundings.
Be on the lookout for hazards like potholes, glass, and debris. Avoid riding in blind spots, and always use caution when passing or passing by a car. If a motorist seems to be behaving erratically, give them a wide berth and don’t engage.
Bicycling is a great way to get around, but it’s important to remember that it’s also a mode of transportation. When riding in traffic, act as other drivers expect you to – because they do. Following the tips above can help ensure your safety on the roads.