Safe Bicycling

Enjoy bicycling with these safety tips.
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Safe Bicycling

There are millions of cyclists on the roads–the same roads occupied by millions of motor vehicles that are larger, heavier and faster than bikes. Defensive driving applies to both people who pedal with their feet to travel and those who push on the gas pedal.

According to Injury Facts, “the number of preventable deaths from bicycle transportation incidents increased 16% in 2020 and have increased 44% in the last 10 years, from 873 in 2011 to 1,260 in 2020.” Taking precautions in traffic and wearing protective equipment are a cyclist’s best shields against unintentional injuries.

The National Safety Council offers the following tips for safe and enjoyable bicycling:

  • Obey Traffic Rules
    Cyclists must follow the same rules as motorists.
  • Know Your Bike’s Capabilities
    Remember that bicycles differ from motor vehicles; they’re smaller and can’t move as fast. But, they can change direction more easily, stop faster and move through smaller spaces.
  • Ride in Single File
    With traffic, not against it. Bicyclists should stay as far right on the pavement as possible, watching for opening car doors, sewer gratings, soft shoulders, broken glass and other debris. Remember to keep a safe distance from the vehicle ahead.
  • Make Safe Turns
    Cross intersections with care. Signal turns half a block before the intersection, using the correct hand signals (left arm straight out for left turn; forearm up for right turn). When traffic is heavy and the cyclist has to turn left, it is best to dismount and walk the bicycle across both streets at the crosswalks.
  • Never Hitch on Cars
    A sudden stop or turn could send the cyclist flying into the path of another vehicle.
  • Before Riding Into Traffic
    Stop, look left, right, left again, and over your shoulder.
  • Always Be Seen
    During the day, cyclists should wear bright clothing. Nighttime cycling is not advised. But, if night riding is necessary, retro reflective clothing will make cyclists more visible.
  • Make Sure the Bicycle has the Right Safety Equipment
    A red rear reflector; a white front reflector; a red or colorless spoke reflector on the rear wheel; an amber or colorless reflector on the front wheel; pedal reflectors; a horn or bell; and a rear view mirror. A bright headlight is recommended for night riding.
  • Wear a Helmet
    Head injuries cause about two-thirds of all bicycling fatalities.

A properly designed helmet has four characteristics:

  1. A stiff outer shell designed to distribute impact forces and protect against sharp objects.
  2. An energy-absorbing liner at least one-half inch thick.
  3. A chin strap and fastener to keep the helmet in place.
  4. It should be lightweight, cool in hot weather and fit comfortably.

There is no limit to the fun and exercise gained from bicycling. Being careful will give riders safer trips and a greater peace of mind!