Cycling is a fantastic way to have fun, stay healthy, and commute in a cheap and nature-friendly way.But how safe is it to ride your bike in traffic? We all know that we need to be mindful when cycling, but do we really think about every aspect of cycling safety?We believe that many don’t. This is why we’ve created this knowledge base of 30+ cycling safety tips that will help you ride your bike accident-free for years to come.
Always Wear A Helmet
The helmet is the most important piece of cycling safety equipment. Always make sure to wear it, no matter how long or short your ride is. It can potentially save your life or protect you from serious injuries if you hit your head when you fall. Your helmet should fit your well and sit tightly on your head.
Wear High-Visibility Clothes
Black clothes look cool, we agree. However, when you go out for a ride, you should try to wear bright-colored clothes with reflective stripes on them. Colors like orange, red, bright green, pink, and yellow are a great choice. They will make you much more visible on the road, allowing drivers to spot you earlier and react properly.
Don’t Use Headphones
Long rides can often become boring, especially when you’re out there alone. However, you should resist the temptation to wear headphones/earphones and listen to music. Even if you wear just one earpiece, your attention will be significantly decreased. In some countries, cycling with headphones/earphones is also illegal, so you might end up getting fined.
Stay Out of the Door Zone
Be wary of parked cars. When I ride in the city, I am usually more afraid of parked cars than of those that are moving. The most dangerous thing about them is the “door zone”. This refers to the area near the car where you can be hit with the door if someone opens it recklessly. Always ride at least 1 meter away from the cars to stay out of the door zone.
Use a Bike Light at All Times
Front and rear bike lights are essential when talking about cycling safety. They are a must at night or on foggy and cloudy days. However, experts say that they should be on at all times, even on very sunny days, and we agree. Drivers will spot you much more easily if your lights are on.
Check Your Brakes
Make sure that your brakes are in working order every time before you hit the road. The last thing you want to do is go for a ride and realize that you have no way of stopping the bike. This can be a major safety hazard, especially if you’re going downhill or riding in heavy traffic.
Check for Loose Bolts
Another thing you need to do before every ride is check for any loose nuts and bolts. Nowadays, modern bikes use quick-release levers for the wheels and the saddle, which can sometimes get loose. Pull on them lightly before you hop on your bike to make sure that they are tight enough. Check the bolts on the handlebar and on the brakes as well.
Pump Your Tires
Check that your tires are properly inflated and not too worn. All tires have the recommended pressure range printed on the sidewall, so ensure that the air pressure in your tires is within that range.
An overinflated tire has reduced traction and could blow. An underinflated tire could lead to a pinch-flat or even slip off the wheel, which can be extremely dangerous.
Use a Bike Bell
Invest in a bike bell or a bike siren and always have it on your handlebar. You can use it to let others know that you are approaching and avoid collisions with other cyclists and pedestrians. Don’t be afraid to use your bike bell whenever necessary, it’s better to be annoying than to crash.
This is not an obvious cycling safety tip that many riders think about, but it is definitely important. Always use sunscreen when riding in the sun. If you’re riding in summer, use sunscreen even on cloudy days, because clouds do not offer protection from UV radiation.
Use sunscreen with at least a factor 30 and don’t be stingy—apply it generously to all exposed parts of your body. It will save you from sunburns and protect you from skin cancer in the long run.
Ride on Bike Paths When Possible
Cycling as a means of transport is becoming more and more popular around the world. As a result, authorities are building more bike paths everywhere. Try to use these whenever possible and stay out of traffic. Bike paths are sometimes slower than roads, but they are much safer, which is a pretty good trade-off.
Avoid Roads with No Shoulder
If you can choose a route for your ride, always avoid roads that do not have a shoulder or a bike path. Without a shoulder, you will be riding inside the lane, along with cars and trucks, which is an accident waiting to happen. Drivers often do not want to wait for a safe moment to pass you, so they will be driving dangerously close to you more often than not.
Avoid Busy Hours
If possible, do not ride your bike on city streets during busy hours. The roads are usually busiest when people go to and come back from work, which creates big traffic jams. As a result, drivers are usually quite nervous and might drive recklessly. Moreover, just the increased concentration of traffic will significantly decrease your safety.
Don’t Be Afraid to Take the Lane
Taking the lane is an important urban cycling skill that everyone should learn and use. It means to move to the center of the lane and prevent cars from passing you. Of course, you need to do it carefully, giving the drivers behind you enough time to see what you are doing. This skill is useful when you plan to make a left turn or when you see a narrowing in the road ahead of you.
Stay Off the Sidewalks
No matter how tempted you might be to ride on sidewalks in order to avoid having to deal with traffic, we advise you not to do it. Sidewalks are not made for cycling, they are made for walking.
Pedestrians don’t always act in a predictable manner on sidewalks, which might lead to a collision. Moreover, sidewalks often have other safety hazards, such as signposts, fire hydrants, potholes, and shop doors that could open at any time.
Don’t Use Your Phone
Leave your phone in your pocket, backpack, or cycling bag when riding your bike. That’s where it belongs. Cycling and using your phone is just as dangerous as driving a car with a phone in your hand.
It will significantly decrease your attention and focus and increase your chances of making a mistake or not seeing potential danger fast enough. If you need to use a phone, dismount your bike and then do it.
Check the Weather Forecast
Depending on where you live, a sunny day can quickly turn into a rainy or a stormy one. Therefore, it is of paramount importance to check the weather forecast before heading outside, especially if you are going on a long ride. Going unprepared on a ride in the rain, hail, snow, or strong wind is incredibly dangerous.
Most people make decisions in traffic based on what they expect other people to do. This is why it is important to always ride in a predictable manner. Stay in the flow with the traffic and don’t make sudden turns without signaling with your hand. If you make sure to obey all traffic laws, you will significantly improve your safety.
Never Drink and Ride
You should absolutely never drink alcohol and ride a bike. You don’t drink and drive, so why would you drink and ride? Alcohol decreases your focus and increases your reaction time, which means that you are more likely to make a crucial mistake. Plus, it affects your balance, which is, of course, necessary when riding a bike.
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