It's been reported that over 50 million Americans ride their bike on a regular basis, whether it's to commute to work or as a leisure activity. Some people do it for exercise, while other people do it because it's such a great alternative to driving. There's much less traffic, it's far less expensive, and the views are incredible. However, one thing car drivers have over cyclists is drivers ed. They have a full course on how to operate their car and navigate the road safely. Cyclists don’t have that. And as a result, many cyclists use unsafe practices and put themselves in greater danger than they should, because they were never taught some of the most crucial safety tips. So today we’re going to share some of them with you:
Wear your helmet: Even though most people know they should wear their helmet, it is the most important safety tip you can receive. It doesn’t matter where you are biking, what speed you are biking at, or how much experience you have, there's always a risk that you could fall off your bike. Whether it's from hazards on the road, bad drivers, or just a mishap on your part, none of the other safety tips will matter if you aren’t wearing your helmet. Read our blog here to learn how to pick the right helmet for you.
Know your turn signals: Everyone should know the universal hand signals that alert cars of maneuvers you are going to make. To signal a left turn, stick your left arm all the way out. To signal a right turn, stick your left arm out and point your hand to the sky. This will create an L shape. To signal you are going to stop, again point your left arm out and this time point your hand to the ground, opposite the way you would for the right turn signal. In order to signal you are slowing down, simply do the same as you would to signal you are stopping and wave your hand back and forth. Make sure to know these signals so you can communicate with cars of any changes you might make on the road.
Keep lights on your bike: It's illegal to drive a car in the dark with no lights on, and in some places it's illegal to do the same while biking. But regardless of legality, lights on your bike are an incredibly important part of bike safety when it comes to biking in the dark or on a rainy day. While reflectors can help, lights are far more effective at catching the eye of drivers, and if you have a strong enough light it can help you detect bumps and debris in the road when the sun goes down. Make sure you put one on the front of your bike and one on the back of your bike to ensure you are visible from all angles.
Utilize bike lanes: This step might be easier for some than it is for others. Some places have made huge strides in recent years to develop strong bike infrastructure, while other places are a little late to the party. Nonetheless, it's important to try to stick to designated bike lanes as much as possible. Most cities have published maps of all the bike lanes that you can find online. You can also use google maps for directions, and if you select that you are biking it will keep you on bike lanes as much as possible. If you are in an area where there aren’t a whole lot of bike lanes to use make sure you always ride on the right side of the road going with the flow of traffic, and if you are on a very narrow one way road it is often best to ride in the middle to avoid being clipped by a passing car.
Biking is a fun, healthy way to travel and get exercise. But if you are new or inexperienced it can often be pretty dangerous. It is one of the fastest growing hobbies in the US which means that every year there are new riders taking to the streets. While we love to see that, we also want to make sure everyone is safe and understands the rules of the road. Get a helmet, know how to signal to cars, equip your bike with the proper safety gear, and stick to the safest areas to bike in. Aside from that, talk to other cyclists to see what kind of tips they have! They’re usually happy to help out.