Cycling Safety 101: 8 Things to Remember
Riding a bike is a great form of transportation; it is more environmentally friendly, and it is also a great way to exercise and improve your heart health. That being said, riding a bike can also be hazardous if you aren’t paying enough attention. Bicycle accidents are relatively common, but they can be avoided with the proper care and consideration. Read on to learn more.
Cyclists often have very similar rights to motorists when using roads or highways, although the specifics may vary depending on your state, so be sure to do your due diligence. They are also subject to the same laws. Generally speaking, this means heeding traffic signals, prioritizing pedestrian safety, fitting into the traffic flow, and using signals to communicate your intentions when turning.
Some bikes are smaller than others, like lie-down bikes, and it can be difficult for motorists to spot them. This is also the case if you are cycling a lot at night or in low light. So you need to ensure that you are as visible as possible every time you ride your bike. For some people, this means fitting lights, flags, bells, and other features to their bikes to ensure that other road users are going to take notice. It could also mean bright clothing and reflective gear too.
There are dangers to cycling while distracted; however, it is all too easy to find yourself distracted by your phone, other road users, or pedestrians. This does increase your likelihood of an accident. Therefore, you need to do your best to limit the number of distractions. This also means you shouldn’t wear headphones while cycling because you cannot hear the traffic sounds around you. Store your phone in your bag or pocket to not be tempted to look at it while cycling.
Biking while under the influence should be avoided at all costs, and it extends to any vehicle in general. Alcohol can significantly impair your ability to make sound decisions, slow down your reaction time, and generally impede your ability to safely maneuver your bike. If you plan on consuming alcohol, you should find an alternative method to get home, such as a taxi. Some medications also have similar effects meaning that you need to check the side effects and read warning labels.
Ensuring that your bike is in a good operating condition is imperative to your safety; bikes that need repairing are often more likely to have accidents. You need to check the brakes, chain routinely, lights, handle, and bell to check that they are all in proper working order. Also, pump up your tires and make sure that your treads are deep enough. Each of these elements can affect the way that your bike handles, so bear that in mind.
As a responsible bike owner, you need to look into insurance. This will help protect your bike from damage, theft, or loss and protect yourself. Using an insurer like Velosurance will allow you to cover yourself for road traffic accidents and injuries for you and others. Bikes are often a pretty big investment; some bikes can cost as much as a car, so insurance is so important.
Bike lanes exist for a reason; you should never ride your bike on the sidewalk. Those are for pedestrians, not cyclists. Sidewalks can also be more hazardous to cycle on because of uneven surfaces and bumps, which can throw you off. Most cities have cycles lanes, and you should always use them. It is not just for your safety but for the safety of others too.
When you ride your bike, there are several things that you must always do for your safety as well as the safety of others. Firstly, just like you would when driving a car, you need to keep both hands on the handles – unless you need to signal. If you take your hands off the handles, you will limit your reaction time. Next, you need to make sure that you always have a helmet on. If you happen to be in an accident, your helmet can limit the severity of your injuries. Finally, you may also want to invest in other pieces of riding gear like hi-vis, as mentioned above, or riding shoes.
The Bottom Line
The tips listed above do not make up an exhaustive list. However, they do provide an excellent base of knowledge that you can build upon with your personal experiences. Remember, when operating any form of vehicle, be it truck, car, or bike, you are responsible for not only your safety but the safety of those around you. By taking on board the above advice, you are significantly limiting your chances of being in an accident.