Traveling on a bicycle is fun, healthy and good for the environment. For many people, bikes are their first vehicles. They build on skills used both for driving and interaction around traffic. However, careless riding and other biking-related factors can be dangerous, especially when riding near the road or highway. The following advice is to help keep yourself safe while riding your bike.
Use Safety Equipment
Every rider, regardless of age or skill level, should wear a helmet whenever they ride a bicycle. A certified, properly fitted helmet protects the head and reduces the risk of injury during an accident or fall.
Another thing you can do to keep yourself safe is making it easier for drivers on the road to see you. During the day, wear brightly-colored clothing or a reflective vest to make yourself more visible. At night, use a white front light and a red rear light, so other cars can identify you and tell which way you are facing.
Remember the Rules of the Road
Bicycles are considered vehicles, just like a car. On the road, cyclists are expected to follow the same rules as other drivers. Ride with the flow of traffic and obey road signs, just like you would while driving a car. Make known your intentions to other drivers by using hand signals before you turn or stop.
The best way to keep yourself from having an accident on your bike is to ride defensively. Don’t expect that other vehicles will go out of the way for your sake; always assume that every driver can’t see you. That way, if a driver really doesn’t see you, you are prepared to avoid having an accident. Avoid using devices like cell phones or music players while riding your bike. These things are distracting and can pull your attention away from a hazard on the road.
Watch the Terrain
A rough or uneven surface can cause you to lose your balance. Be on the lookout for potholes, storm grates, sand or gravel and other roadway conditions that might be hazardous. If bike paths or trails are available in your community, use them to keep yourself away from traffic as much as possible.
Riding on the sidewalk is illegal in certain states, and even if it is legal in your area, it can be dangerous to you and any pedestrians nearby. If you must travel on the sidewalk, be sure to announce your intentions to pass a pedestrian before you do so. Also, be sure to ride slowly and to watch for cars backing out of driveways.
Keep in mind that practice makes perfect. No one becomes an expert on their first attempt. In order to ride your bike safely through high traffic, you’re going to need the practice and experience necessary to do so. A good place to start is a safe environment away from traffic – maybe a sub-division that’s open to public, or your local park. Check with your city’s recreation department, school or local bike shop to join an on-bike class to learn from professionals and meet fellow cycle enthusiasts.
Riding a bike can be potentially dangerous. However, many cycling accidents occur because either cyclists or motorists fail to follow the rules of the road. Riding defensively and exhibiting proper roadway behavior are the best ways to make sure you stay safe and have fun when you take a trip by bicycle.