Riding a bicycle can be dangerous, but there are a few steps you can take – many of which you can even take before you get on the road – that can make the activity safer. Keep reading to find out what they are!
Step 1: Check Your Bike
Before you hop on your bike, you’ll want to make sure it’s the right size and in good working order. You can’t control a bike that’s too big for you, and a bike cannot be safe without functional brakes and tires.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), when you’re standing over your bicycle, “there should be 1 to 2 inches between you and the top tube (bar) if using a road bike and 3 to 4 inches if a mountain bicycle. The seat should be level front to back. The seat height should be adjusted to allow a slight bend at the knee when the leg is fully extended. The handlebar height should be at the same level with the seat.”
Before you go out, check your brakes and inflate your tires properly. Make sure your seat and handlebars are adjusted to the proper height and locked into place and that your bike has reflectors.
Step 2: Choose the Right Helmet
Helmets protect your head and your life by decreasing your risk of traumatic brain injury (TBI). You should wear one every time you ride. Make sure your helmet is certified by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and use the NHTSA guide for fitting your bike helmet.
Some highlights from this helpful guide include:
- The helmet should sit level on your head and 1-2 finger-widths above your eyebrows
- Your chin strap should be snug
- If you yawn, your helmet should pull down on your head
- Your helmet should not rock forward into your eyes
Feel free to try on many helmets until you find the right one. Wear it every time you get on a bicycle and get a new helmet if your old one has been in a crash. Never buy helmets secondhand, as they are less effective after a crash.
Step 3: Dress for Success
Helmets are just one part of a safe biking outfit. You should also make yourself visible by wearing neon, fluorescent, or other bright colors. If you ride at night, consider wearing something reflective or adding reflective tape or markings to your clothing or bicycle.
Wear the right shoes when you ride and leave the heels, sandals, flip-flops, and cleats at home. Make sure what you’re wearing fits well and will not get caught in your bike chain. Tie your shoelaces and tuck your pantleg into your socks to keep your bike chain clear.
Avoid wearing headphones, as well, as the music can distract you from important noises around you, such as car horns and warnings from other drivers and cyclists.
Step 4: Plan Your Route
When you know where you’re going, you’re less likely to get distracted by a GPS and you’re more likely to know what to expect. Try to choose routes with less traffic and lower speed limits or routes where you don’t have to share the road at all. Your safest route may be on a road with bike lanes or on a bike path or trail.
Step 5: Know the Rules of the Road
Every state has different laws for bicyclists, but in most places, bicycles have the same rights and responsibilities as cars. Make sure to stop at stop signs and use your hand signals before turning or switching lanes. Bicyclists also need to ride with the flow and in the same direction as traffic.
If you plan on riding on the sidewalk, make sure you know whether or not sidewalk-riding is allowed where you are going.
Bonus Tip: Plan for the Worst
Planning ahead is great, but no one can predict the future. Prepare for a safe bike ride but have a plan for if something goes wrong.
If a negligent driver harms you, for example, you can always give Lauri J. Goldstein & Associates, PLLC a call at (866) 675-4427 or contact us online.