Safer Cycling: 4 Tips For Street Safety
Bicycling is an excellent way to get around. It’s environmentally friendly, efficient, and good for your physical health. Add the high cost of car ownership to that list of positives, and it makes sense that more and more Americans are cycling on a daily basis than ever.
Unfortunately, cyclists also face a serious problem: safety. Whether it’s a lack of knowledge about proper cycling practices or motorists who don’t share the road, too many cyclists are involved in serious accidents.
If you’re interested in taking up cycling for regular transportation or pleasure, you should follow these four safety tips and teach them to your family. Your lives may depend on them.
1. Wear The Right Helmet
Wearing a helmet should be common sense — in some communities, it’s even illegal not to wear one above a certain age — but many cyclists don’t take the trouble to include this essential piece of safety gear.
Some riders wear the helmet, but the one they’ve chosen is ill fitting or inappropriate for cycling. Check to make sure your helmet fits correctly by looking for the following three signs.
First, can you see the rim of the helmet when you raise your eyes? Second, does the helmet form a snug V around your ears? Finally, when you open your mouth wide, does the helmet hug your head tightly?
Kids’ helmets should regularly be adjusted: They should be fitted for new ones as they grow.
2. Learn Your Hand Signals
You’ve surely seen them: the arm motions people sometimes make when they’re riding a bike. They mean something, and you should be using them.
Hand signals inform others on the road whether you are about to make a turn or change lanes. They can help everyone assess what to do next so that they leave you room to move about safely.
3. Follow All the Traffic Rules
Even though you’re riding a bike and not driving a car, you still need to follow all the usual traffic laws. That means stopping at stoplights, following the flow of traffic, using lights at night, and yielding to pedestrians where noted.
Bicyclists are most likely to get hurt when they don’t obey traffic laws and aren’t mindful of other vehicles.
4. Don’t Ride Drunk
Not surprisingly, bicycling while drunk is a sure way to get hurt. Oddly enough, however, even though it would be illegal to drive a car after drinking a significant amount, some people think nothing of hopping on a bike after a night at the bar.
It’s a fatal combination. One in five cyclists killed in an accident had elevated blood alcohol levels. It may be a time we started saying “don’t drink and bike” as often as we say “don’t drink and drive.”
Cycling safety is a serious matter, so it’s time we take it seriously. Riding your bike isn’t just a fun hobby but as risky as operating a more traditional vehicle. Properly done, however, you can enjoy riding your bike for pleasure and transportation for years to come.