Bicycling offers an alternative to driving.Road riding, however, can be dangerous. Nearly 800 bicyclists died in motor vehicle crashes in 2017. No matter your destination, keep these 11 bike safety tips in mind.
Bike Safety Before You Ride
1. Choose Your Route Carefully
As much as you can, try to avoid busy streets. Opt for routes with bike lanes, pedestrian overpasses and neighborhoods over main roads.
2. Wear Your Helmet
Your bike helmet should rest level and a finger-width above your eyebrows. Tighten straps and buckles to ensure it stays firmly on your head. If you’ve crashed with your current helmet, replace it before your next ride.
3. Keep Your Bike in Good Shape
You should regularly service and maintain your bike, just as you would a car. Before you ride, properly inflate your tires and make sure gears, chains and brakes are in working order. Always pack an emergency kit in case you get a flat.
4. Dress for the Ride
Wearing bright colors helps motorists see you in low-visibility conditions. If you’re riding at night, skip dark clothing. Be sure to wear a colorful or reflective jacket, helmet and shoes.
5. Use Lights Early and Late
Outfit your bike with at least two charged, blinking LED lights: red for the back, white for the front. Mount the front light to your handlebars and clip your back light to a backpack or belt loop. This lets motorists see you in fog and hazy weather, as well as at sunrise, sunset and night.
Bike Safety on the Road
1. Don’t Ride on the Sidewalk
Compared to the road, the sidewalk seems safe and car-free. But drivers often pull out of parking lots, driveways and garages without looking both ways. Staying off sidewalks will protect you from these vehicles.
2. Move with Traffic
When riding on the road, try to be predictable. You’ll be safer if you bike according to drivers’ expectations and the rules of the road. Wrong-way riding puts you at significant risk for collisions, especially as drivers turn right.
3. Ride on the Right
Like slower cars, bicyclists should stay on the right. That’s why bike lanes are always on the right-hand side. If you’re on a road without a bike lane, ride on the edge of the road, not the shoulder. Ideally, there should be 3 feet between vehicles and bicycles.
4. Obey Traffic Signals
Follow the rules of the road. Never roll through red lights, and always stop at stop signs, just like a car would. Also, be sure to check bicycle laws in your city. They will likely address lights, brakes and hand signals.
5. Use Hand Signals
Without the benefit of flashers, using hand signals alerts drivers to your next move. They can’t read your mind. Without much effort, though, you can communicate your next move.
6. Scan the Road
Like drivers, bicyclists should pay attention to the road in front of them. Look for potholes, debris, car doors and pedestrians. Spotting hazards at the last minute because you’ve been looking away can lead to swerving. Keep your eyes on the road and stay safe.