Keep on Rolling
Noble McIntyre on May 13, 2014
For lots of us, spring weather and sunshine means that we’re ready to put on our helmets and hit the road on two wheels. A bike ride can be relaxing, is great exercise and is lots of fun, whether alone or with your friends or family. As the cycling season gets underway, we all need a few reminders on good safety measures that can help to keep us safe this summer.
The first, and arguably most important, aspect to bicycle safety is always wearing a helmet. Studies have shown that having multiple concussions in early life could lead to later development of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is a form of brain damage that is similar to Alzheimer’s Disease. Wearing a helmet won’t prevent you from getting hurt, but helmets are designed to lessen the blow if you do. When you select a helmet, be sure that it fits properly.
Here are some more things that you can check before you hit the road:
- Be sure that your bicycle fits your body. As you’re standing over your bike, there should be about one to two inches between you and the top bar if it’s a road bike. If it’s a mountain bike, that measurement should be three to four inches. The seat should be level (from front to back) and should allow for a slight knee bend when your leg is fully extended. Check to see that your handlebars are level with the seat.
- Check equipment before you ride. Inflate your tires and check your brakes.
- Be visible! Regardless of the weather, you want to wear colors that will allow others, especially motorists, to see you easily. White does not increase your visibility; neon, fluorescent or bright colors are best for being noticeable by drivers. Also, wear reflective tape or install flashing lights on your bike, especially when riding at night. It’s important for you to see the cars, but it’s also very important that they see you.
- Use handlebars. This may seem like a silly “safety” point, but all too often, cyclists are carrying packages, books or other items and they are not riding with both hands on the handlebars. If you have to carry something, consider a bike basket or backpack. Or, if you must hold it, be sure that one hand is always firmly on the handlebars so that you can maintain control of your bike.
- Be alert. Road hazards can be big or small. Potholes, broken glass,
gravel, wet leaves, puddles and pets can cause accidents. Pay attention to the road while you ride, and don’t ride while talking on your mobile phone.
Now that you’re ready to head out, here are a few safety tips to remember as you’re on the road:
- Stay in line with traffic. Ride on the right in the same direction as the cars.
- Obey traffic laws. As a bicyclist, you’re obligated to follow the same traffic rules as
do drivers. That means that you must follow all signs, signals and lane markings.
- Yield to traffic. When you’re driving a car on a smaller road, you would yield to the traffic on the larger roads at an intersection where there is no stop sign or traffic signal. The same applies to cyclists. If you’re approaching a major intersection from a smaller road, slow down to see if you have a clear path before entering the intersection. You also must yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk.
- Be predictable. Don’t weave in and out of traffic, and use established hand signals to let drivers know what your next move will be.
- Look before you turn. Although you might be riding safely and paying attention to the traffic, you can’t guarantee that the traffic is paying attention to you. Always check traffic from all directions before you change course.
Cycling can be a great part of summertime, so don’t let carelessness ruin your summer fun. Bike safely!
References: Bicycling.com, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration>