Bicycle Safety Tips
Bicycles provide recreation, exercise and personal transportation. But they must be ridden safely with a keen awareness of the cycling environment. Use the tips listed below to help improve your safety and confidence as a bicyclist.
- Obey all traffic signals, signs and lane markings. Cyclists have the same responsibilities and privileges as motor vehicle drivers.
- Purchase and use a bicycle helmet. See http://www.bhsi.org/guide.htm for fitting suggestions.
- Ride on the right side of the road with the flow of traffic. Car drivers are looking for other cars and truck consistent with the “rules of the road,” not for bikes going in the wrong direction. Pass slower-moving or stopped vehicles on their left except when traveling in a bike lane.
- Ride far enough away from the curb to stay clear of opening car doors (see image at right), potholes, debris and sewer grates and to maintain a straight line. If the road is too narrow for vehicles to pass you safely, it may be better to ride in the right third or middle of the lane to prevent dangerous overtaking. Practice riding in a straight line. It is an important skill when cycling alone as well as with others.
- Ride defensively! Be alert: scan the route ahead for traffic, opening car doors, other people riding bikes, pedestrians, and obstacles on the road surface.
- Ride predictably so that others can see you and predict your movements. Do not weave in and out between parked cars. Use hand signals to indicate turns and when slowing.
- Double check to make sure it is safe before crossing the path of motorists and pedestrians. Motorists sometimes don’t watch for or see cyclists. For some vehicle drivers you are invisible.
- Use hand signals to indicate to other cyclists and motorists your intent to turn, slow down, stop, etc. Consistent use of hand signals decreases the chance of accidents between cyclists, or between a car and bike rider. Click here to view a list of suggested hand signals.
- Except when signaling, always keep both hands on the handlebars and be ready to brake. Use secure racks or packs for carrying items or packages.
- Go slower and use caution when the road is wet or icy, or when it is foggy or visibility is otherwise limited.
- Be visible; use lights, and reflectors when riding at night. Brightly colored or reflective clothing can help increase visibility.
- Avoid bicycling upon sidewalks. Motorists don’t expect other vehicles on the sidewalk especially those traveling faster than walking speed. Furthermore, there are often obstructions that limit your visibility.
- Keep your bicycle in good working condition. See http://www.bitrot.de/bbook_intro.html. Only ride a bicycle that is adjusted and sized to fit you.
Also see How Not to Get Hit by a Car which is probably the single greatest fear that that people who ride bicycles have. You’ll notice that the image above is from the same site. Good information for both experienced and novice cyclists.