When riding a bicycle, you can connect with nature in ways you can’t when you’re in a car. You can feel the air rushing past your face. You can feel the sun, or the rain, on your skin. That’s not all you can feel.
On a bicycle, you can connect in completely different ways as well. You can hit other vehicles or pedestrians. You can be hit by other vehicles and sustain serious injury or even die in the process.
There are several steps you can take to remain safe as a bicyclist on the roads.
Wear a helmet
Out of all the advice you will receive about road safety as a bicyclist, wearing a helmet is probably the most important. Many head injuries are irreparable and can significantly reduce the quality of your life.
You may think the helmet is bulky or unfashionable. According to the National Safety Council bicycle helmets will reduce the risk of serious head injury by more than 50 percent if you are in an accident.
They also say the majority of the 80,000 cycling-related head injuries are brain-related. Meanwhile, more than half of bicyclists killed in 2016 weren’t wearing a helmet. Even more disturbing, more than half of all riders report never wearing a helmet. Don’t let this be you. If you are riding a bicycle, wear a helmet.
Ride With The Flow Of Traffic
In the US, it is illegal to ride against the grain of traffic. This means you are to ride your bike on the right side and not the left. There are serious consequences for you if you violate this precept.
For one thing, you can face legal penalties since doing this is against the law. You are also more likely to be seen by a driver if you are riding in the same direction as they are. They will have less time to react to you if you surprise them and come from the opposite direction. At night, you will also be riding directly into headlights, which can be blinding. Lastly, you are more likely to be severely injured if you are in a head-on collision with a car as opposed to running into one from the rear.
Follow Traffic Laws
Riding on the right side of the road is one traffic law that you should follow if you want to remain safe as a bicyclist. There are others. For example, you are required to make signals to let other road users know what you’re going to do, just as if you were in a car or other vehicle. Know what these are and when they are used. When you use them, make sure you can be seen clearly by other road users.
Know your traffic signs and pay attention to them. Know also that as a bicyclist, you need to give way to pedestrians if they are in an intersection or crossway. You cannot ride into them. You are also required to give the right of way to vehicles at your left before you turn in that direction.
Several other laws may apply to you depending on where you live. It may make sense to contact your local road authority and/or riders’ association to find out what they are.
Make Sure Your Bicycle Is In Good Working Order
Sometimes a bicycle accident is the fault of the cyclist. Not because they failed to signal or rode on the wrong side of the road, but because they did not maintain their bike properly. Brakes that don’t work properly can’t stop your forward momentum if you really need it. This can result in a collision. Gears that don’t work properly can stick, causing you to lose control of your bike, potentially with dire consequences.
Make sure your bike is regularly serviced by a professional shop. Pay special attention to your tires and make sure they are properly inflated and aligned. Your brakes are absolutely critical to your remaining safe on the road, make sure there are no problems with these as well.
It is a good practice to put reflectors, a horn or bell, and rearview mirrors on your bicycle. You will be able to see and make yourself seen with these. Finally, your bike should be fitted to your body with an appropriate and comfortable seat. You will have better control of the bicycle this way, which will automatically reduce the potential for accidents.
As a bicycle owner, there are several ways you can stay safe and protected out on the roads. Please take these precautions and preserve your life and those of fellow road users.