Apart from being a sports activity, riding a bicycle is considered one of the safest means of getting around in the current world. When you think about the health benefits that come with cycling, a bike is not only safe, but the healthiest and the most enjoyable mode of transportation we have around. However, it is undeniable that when you share the roads with vehicles it can also be dangerous too.
Because of this, this article will introduce basic rules and safety tips that will keep you from any harm both on and off the roads.
Be conversant with the bikers rules whilst on the road
Bikes are considered vehicles in almost every state if not all. Just like a truck and car owner, cyclists have to follow a set of stipulated rules while on the roads. The best place to ride a bike is on the streets. Children under 10 years are however required to ride with their parents on the sidewalks.
While riding on the streets, ride on the right following the traffic—go with the traffic flow, not against it. Otherwise, you would be risking a crash or traffic offense ticket.
Check your helmet
Before you hop on your bike, give it a quick once over to see if all the components are as they are supposed to be. When you’re satisfied, check your helmet for imperfections too. A cracked helmet will be of little use if you have a bicycle accident. According to NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety-Administration), you’re always required to put on a perfectly fitting helmet every time you hit the road.
When purchasing a new helmet, check the sticker that it has met the safety certification from the US Consumer Product-Safety Commission; this guarantees the helmet has passed all the necessary tests and is good to be used.
Be extra careful at intersections
According to a survey, about half of all bicycle crashes occur at junctions and intersection points. Apart from obeying traffic signals, scan for cyclists or traffic around you. Prior to any turn or change in direction, check for traffic break behind you, position yourself in the right lane, then give a signal which direction you want to go.
The proper sequence will require you to look, signal then look. Hand signals are the best to let other cyclists or drivers know where you are going next. Make eye contact and be always on the lookout - don’t assume they will stop!
This applies especially when biking in poorly lit streets or at night. When other drivers cannot see you, chances are, they are more likely to hit you. Ensure your bike is equipped with a proper lighting system. To add to this, put on reflectors which act as additional safety features.
Cycling under the influence of drugs and alcohol
A report released by NHTSA showed that 1 out of every 3 fatalities related to cyclists were as a result of drunk bicycling. Bicycle accidents are on the rise but the saddening fact is that the resulting factors can easily be avoided. Since people offer limited protection, it’s always advisable not to take a ride when intoxicated. There is no excuse for other drivers too, and one is fully accountable when caught drunk driving.
It is also advisable you avoid busy streets, cities and crowded tourist destinations as the large number of people increases the probability of having an accident. Parents should always be on the lookout-ensuring their kids are following the traffic rules as often later at night there is a bigger risk of cyclists being under the influence of something.
When riding a bike, you need to have maximum concentration which will help you be in control at all times and sprung into action if need be. Don’t get distracted or be over-ambitious while riding on the roads. Avoid putting earphones on, listening to music or picking up calls while riding.
When passing other bicyclists or pedestrians, warn them that you are approaching with a bell or shouts, for instance ‘on your left!’.
Check your bicycle to make sure
- The tires are properly inflated.
- The brakes are perfect and the grip is enough.
- The chain is properly oiled and is moving smoothly.
- All the nuts and bolts are perfectly tightened.
- Take a pressure pump with you if you are planning to cover a considerable distance.
Be aware of parked vehicles
Parked vehicles are far more dangerous than the ones on the move. Ride at safe distances of about 4 feet (1.22 m) to avoid being hit by doors that are opened suddenly.
In an effort to reduce carbon print, most people are ditching traditional modes of transport in favor of bicycles which are more Eco-friendly. However, due to poor planning and lack of adequate infrastructure, most bicyclists are getting injured and killed in traffic accidents. However, following the simple instructions like not wearing headsets and being on the lookout will always keep you safe.
Speeding on Pedestrian Zones
More often, cyclists attach power meters to their bikes to gauge power output. We understand the need for it, especially when training for an upcoming race. But a busy pedestrian street is not the right area to train how fast and how far you can go. For the pedestrian’s safety as well as your own, always know your limits and mind your speed.