Putting Cycling Safety First
Cycling around the city has a number of benefits – it’s good exercise, better for the environment and reduces the cost of filling up a gas tank. Before you hit the road, however, it’s important that you do everything you can to reduce the chances of a dangerous accident taking place. Here are some helpful safety tips to remember when taking your bicycle to the streets:
Use Bicycle Hand Signals
When riding your bike in the street, using hand signals to let drivers know where you’re going. Do not assume that drivers will stop for you. Making your intentions clear to everyone on the road will help reduce the risk of an accident. These are some of the most basic bicycle hand signals:
- Making a Left Turn - Hold your left arm out straight to the side to indicate you plan to make a left turn
- Making a Right Turn - Hold your left arm out and bend it at the elbow, pointing your forearm up at a 90 degree angle to indicate a right-hand turn (you can also simply hold your right arm out straight from your body)
- Stopping - Take the same position you would use to signal a right-hand turn and angle your forearm down pointing your fingers at the ground to signal you are stopping
Go Through a Mental Checklist
Going through a mental checklist eliminates the chance of something going wrong while you’re on your bike surrounded by moving traffic. Ask yourself these simple questions:
- Is your bicycle properly adjusted?
- Are your brakes working to the best of their ability?
- Do your tires have enough air?
- Are you wearing clothing that makes you easily visible to drivers?
- If cycling at night or at dusk, are your lights turned on?
- Are you wearing your protective gear?
These are all questions you should ask yourself before getting on your bike.
Respect the Rules of the Road
It’s important to remember that you have the same responsibilities and rights as drivers. You should always be obeying traffic signals and stop signs. Be sure to ride in the same direction as traffic and use the rightmost lane.
Stay in Sight of Drivers
Because you are not given the same amount of protection you’d receive while in a car, avoid blind spots if possible. If cars can’t see you, that creates a potentially dangerous situation. If you’re biking at night or in low-light conditions, use lights. During the day, try to wear bright colored clothing that will make you stand out and easily visible.
Protect Your Head
Don't forget bicycle helmet safety! Wearing a helmet is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your safety, yet it’s the one most people ignore. Regardless of the level of skill you may think you have, riding without a helmet means risking a life-threatening head injury. Cuts, bruises and scratches will heal but the impact of a serious head injury can last forever.