Bicycle safety

Spring is almost here, and with the warm weather comes the fun of outdoor activities like bicycling. But whether you’re an avid cyclist, a commuter, or a recreational rider, safety comes first.

Proper safety gear

While you may be familiar with some of the simple ways to be safe on a bike—like wearing a helmet—consider these other tips:

  • Be heard: Attach a bell to your handle bar so that you can better communicate with pedestrians and other cyclists.
  • Get comfy: Make sure that your bike is the right size, and adjust your seat to a height that is right for you—an improper height can cause pain, which can distract you.
  • Protect your head: It’s important not only to wear a helmet, but to wear it properly. Make sure the strap is tight, but not too tight. The helmet should partially cover your forehead. Don’t let it sit too far back on your head.  
  • Be aware: Rearview mirrors, whether on your helmet or handlebars, can greatly improve your ability to know your surroundings. You won’t have to constantly turn to check behind you.
  • Be seen: In many states, it is the law to have a front white light and a rear blinking red light on your bike. You can increase visibility by adding more light, such as a light on your helmet, or by wearing reflective clothing.
  • Protect your bike: Be sure to carry a good bike lock with you so that you can leave your bike in public places without worry.
  • Keep kids safe: If you are transporting young children on your bike, invest in a good child seat.
  • Basic rules and tips for road riding

    By law, cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists. Learn hand signals to indicate to motorists what you plan to do. When sharing the road with cars, other cyclists, and even pedestrians, it’s important to be aware of what is going on around you, so avoid using headphones or anything else that may distract you. Don’t swerve or weave through traffic. If the weather is bad, note that certain components, such as your brakes, might not work as well as they normally do. Watch for potholes and, when riding in rain, be aware of puddles, since you cannot tell exactly what the water is hiding.

    When riding, do everything a car does. For example, at a four-way stop, take your turn just as you would in a car. If you are turning left and there is a left-turn lane, get into that lane along with the cars that are turning left. When the light turns green, make your turn along with them. Yield to pedestrians at crosswalks and when turning right.

    If you are riding with children, note that they should ride in front of you, not behind. This protects the children, since cars passing from behind will pass you first.

    Essential basic bike maintenance

    Be sure to check tire pressure before every ride. And if something doesn’t feel right when you get on your bike, get it looked at by an expert. Get regular tune-ups so that your bike functions at its best and lasts a long time.

    Bicycling is a healthy and fun activity—let these tips help you stay safe when you ride.

    SLPC 26330 01/15 (exp. 01/17)

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