At The Advocates, we understand the benefits of cycling regularly and believe that it should be done with the utmost knowledge. We are supplying these bike safety facts, so we can all be as prepared as possible.
Bike safety equipment.
Obviously anytime you are considering riding a bike, the first step you should take is to put on your helmet. Having your head protected should be your primary concern, always wear a helmet no matter the distance of the ride. Bicycle safety statistics from the Utah Department of Health, tell us that only 32.4% of bicyclists involved in accidents in Utah were wearing a helmet. While riding a bicycle, having the appropriate clothing on is essential as well. You should never ride a bike without shoes, shoes give protection to your feet, but also enable you to maintain a grip on the peddles, thus providing you with more stability. Leather gloves with a padded palm, work wonders for your hands. Wearing knee pads and elbow pads seem as though they should only be worn for the more extreme riding, but could still be a very good idea to consider.
Have reflective gear on you and your bike.
While riding your bicycle, you are already at a disadvantage of being seen by automobiles because of your much smaller size. Having a reflective vest to wear, as well as lights mounted on your bike. A front head light and a rear red light will increase your ability to be seen in traffic. Bright colored clothing will also add you your visibility.
Make sure maintenance on your bike is up to date.
One big feature we need to be extra aware of is our brakes. Having your brakes working at maximum level is pivotal to our safety, the ability to stop as needed while riding can prevent serious accidents and injuries. Maintaining a well-greased chain will help to ease your peddling while riding. Double checking your gears is essential as well, nothing could be more disastrous than trying to switch to an easier gear and have the gears shift and cause instability while riding.
Regularly check tire pressure.
Although this could easily go with maintenance on your bike, I just wanted to emphasize its importance. By maintaining adequate air pressure in our tires, we will have more control over the bicycle and a higher probability to avoid an accident. It is also a responsibility that is often overlooked, or forgotten about. The adequate amount of tire pressure is 80 to 130 psi in your front tire and 80 to 130 psi in your rear tire.
Avoid personal distractions.
Cycling requires an enormous amount of attention to detail that increases our probability of staying safe. Never try to operate your phone while riding a bicycle, not having your eyes on the road and being distracted can lead to devastating results. However, it is vitally important that if you are riding alone that you have your cell phone with you in case of an emergency. If you need to use your cell phone, pull off to a safe area and use your phone while off your bicycle.
Leave headphones at home.
Hearing traffic is essential to keeping ourselves safe and providing us with the opportunity to react to something we may not be immediately aware of. Similarly, being able to hear pedestrians could be important because they could warn us of possible danger.
Learn cycling signals.
Learning how to signal and when to signal, is very important for both you as a rider but also for drivers of automobiles as well. Performing signals at the appropriate time will inform drivers of what you are planning to do before you do it, thus enabling the car to avoid you. You can easily learn the signals as well as their corresponding meaning by visiting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website
Keep at least one hand on your handlebars at all times.
Knowing your cycling hand signals will teach you that at certain times you may need to take a hand off your handlebars. However, while performing a signal is the only time a cyclist should have a hand off their handlebars, it is much safer to keep both your hands firmly gripping the handlebars. Having both hands on your handlebars will provide you with substantially better control over your bicycle but also provide you with the proximity to apply your breaks when needed.
Avoid night riding when possible.
Riding in the dark reduces our ability to be seen by motorists, so avoid riding at night if at all possible. When you are not able to avoid cycling at night, it is very important to be prepared. Having multiple lights on your bike can increase your ability to see where you are going, but also increase the opportunity that motorists will see you.
Obey all traffic rules of the road.
Even though you are on a bicycle, once you begin traveling on a roadway you are bound by the same traffic laws, lights, and signs as an automobile. Knowing these laws and following them will put yourself in a much safer situation.
Take up the whole lane when it is given to you.
You are easier to be seen by motorists if you are squarely in front of them than if you were off to the side of the lane, near an automobiles blind spots. If you are riding in the middle of the lane, it will also keep cars from passing you too closely.
Never weave through traffic.
Just because you are small enough to cut in and out of traffic does not mean you should do so. If you dart in front of one car and just behind another, you may not provide the car behind you with enough time to stop and ultimately run into the back of you. Riding predictably will increase your ability to stay safe.
Always bike in the direction of traffic.
This is a topic that many cyclists don’t understand. Riding against traffic would increase your chances of not being seen by motorists because you will be where they are not looking for you. When you bike with the flow of traffic, you increase the time both you and the motorist have to react to each other.
Map out your route.
Knowing the route, you are going to take will benefit you by keeping you relaxed. It will provide you with assurance and ease of mind, allowing you to focus on other factors.
Travel with others.
While riding as a group, you will make yourselves more visible to motorists. When with others, you will also have support with you in case something does happen. Riding with friends, family and even co-workers is a great way to build and maintain healthy relationships.
Be courteous to motorists.
Remember, as cyclists and motorists, we are sharing the roadways and thus should be considerate of one another.
Avoid sidewalk riding.
Unless it is necessary, riding on sidewalks should always be avoided. Cycling on sidewalks can be dangerous for the cyclist, but also pedestrians who will not be traveling as fast as a bicyclist will be. Another reason is that when a car is attempting to pass through a sidewalk, they will not be looking for a cyclist, rather usually they are only on the lookout for pedestrians.
Maintain eye contact with motorists.
Making eye contact with the driver of an automobile is a great way for you to know you are seen, and therefore make the actions of the motorist more conscientious of you. You do, however, still have the responsibility to consider your actions carefully. Just because you have made eye contact with a motorist does not mean that he/she will know what you are going to do.
Consider adding a mirror.
Adding a mirror to your bike is not something many people consider, but when it comes to safely biking a mirror could play an important role. Having the ability to peer into your mirror periodically to assess what the situation is like behind you, may help you prevent an accident. Being more aware of your surroundings is always a good way to direct our actions.
Our ability to focus on the task at hand is a great attribute to have. Applying that ability while cycling is a must to help ourselves avert disaster. Always pay attention to your surroundings so that you may react appropriately when needed.
Keep an eye out for hazards.
Along the lines of staying alert, would be to diagnose unsafe situations on the roadway appropriately. Potholes are one hazard that plague avid cyclists, hitting a pothole could cause damage to your bike or even cause an accident. Avoiding heavy construction zones will help you in avoiding potential hazards as well.
Careful around parked cars.
Believe it or not, casually passing to closely to a parked car could result in a serious injury. Travel around a parked car at a safe distance, in case the driver or passenger of the car opens their door without seeing you. This type of accident happens more often than you would think, and therefore you should be aware of it and know how to avoid this type of accident.
Hydrating before riding will help you avoid dehydration. While riding, evaluate your sweat rate and drink enough fluids that you feel your body needs. After you are finished riding it is important to continue to hydrate for the next hour or so, to replace all your lost electrolytes and fluids.
Prepare for inclement weather.
While riding, it is important to be prepared in case of inclement weather. A jacket that repels water is a great way to keep yourself relatively dry, and more concerned with the road. Also a visor on your helmet may also prevent an excessive amount of water out of your eyes enabling you to keep your visibility.
Do research before you decide on cycling in heavy traffic areas. Get a map of your particular area that you will be traversing from your city website. Find out the leading causes of bicycle-related accidents in your area by researching bike safety worksheets. Knowing the leading causes of bike-related accidents will help you prepare and ultimately avoid those similar situations.
Cycling can be fun, healthy, eco-friendly, and a more economically viable way of transportation than driving. If we can focus on these bicycle safety tips, we will all be able to enjoy cycling with fewer accidents and injuries.