When you ride a bike you want to be safe. I often find myself out later in the evening, in the fall and spring this means that it can be quite dark when you are heading home. I have additional flashing lights mounted on the front and back of my bike to make sure that vehicles can see me. I also try to ride on quieter streets, just a little added safety.
Bicycle riders are a part of the traffic stream since more people ride bikes as a form of transportation. Here are seven ways to stay safe when you set out on your ride.
- Check out your bike. When you roll your bike out of the garage or wherever you have it stored, take a quick look at your bike. Are the brake pads making contact with the rim and not the rubber of the wheel? Are the gears moving easily? Is any part of the frame rusty or bent? Any problem with your bike can make you a danger on the road to yourself and others.
- Attach reflectors to your bike. Many bike accidents occur at dusk or at night because riders are not easily visible to car drivers. With reflectors, a car’s headlights can spot them and keep you from being the next casualty. Place them on the front and back wheels attached to the spokes and on the front and back of the frame.
- Wear a helmet. This point can’t be stressed enough. Broken bones can be fixed but a broken brain is another matter entirely. Head injuries are nearly always fatal when talking about bike and motorcycle accidents. All bike riders need a properly fitting helmet to protect their head.
- Wear light colored clothing or a reflective vest. What if you happen to encounter issues and need to repair your bike? Even car drivers are hard to see at night when changing a flat tire. Lighter colors reflect light and are easier to see. It keeps you out of danger when riding at night.
- Follow the same traffic laws as cars. At one point, bike riders were riding against the flow of traffic. People were afraid of being hit from behind so they wanted to see what was coming at them. The problem with that is turning around corners or riding on roads without a paved shoulder can cause the rider to swerve into traffic and become a part of a head-on collision with a car. Bike riders are supposed to ride with traffic and to ride in the lane enough to prevent cars from trying to ride next to them.
- Use hand signals. Even if you are in a turning lane, it is helpful to use bike hand signals to let car drivers know your intentions. A left turn is signaled by holding your left arm straight out. A right turn is signaled with your left arm bent upwards at a ninety degree angle. To let drivers know that you are stopping, bend your left arm downwards at a ninety degree angle.
- Carry a tool kit with you. Many bikes come with basic tool kits. You might need to add a few things but your tool kit needs to contain items to get you going again to reach an area where you can get help. Become familiar with the tools and how to use them before your first ride.
Remember to be safe when you set out on your bike ride. You want to have an enjoyable time away from danger.