Bike riding is a great form of exercise and the perfect way to get outdoors and get active. But like any form of exercise or sport, there are certain safety tips you must adhere too. Pushing your limits, not wearing the right gear, and ignoring traffic laws could result in unwanted injury to both yourself and drivers. Read on to discover some basic bike riding safety tips so that you can get the maximum benefits of cycling.
Why Bike Safety is Important
Although bike riding is often viewed as a rather casual, leisurely activity, it’s important to remember that a bicycle is considered a vehicle. That means if you are riding on a roadway or anywhere that heavy traffic is present, you must adhere to traffic and safety laws unlike indoor cycling.
There are also different types of bike riders. Those who simply take their urban bikes to the park or small side street to ride around for fun and those who are either training for a marathon, ride for exercise purposes, or are part of a cycling group. These, more serious riders, often wear reflectors and use hand-traffic signals for turning. Some city streets offer bike lanes for riders but no matter where you choose to ride your bicycle, if you are on a main road, you must adhere to traffic laws and regulations just like motorists. And be prepared, because motorists will treat you as their equal.
Before You Ride
Bike safety starts before you even leave your home by inspecting your bicycle. This ensures that everything is in safe, working order before heading out on the road. Check both tires and make sure they are properly filled. Inspect them for any holes or tears in the rubber. Flip your bicycle upside down, resting it on the handlebars, seat, and turn your tires a few times. Make sure they are rotating smoothly. Be sure that your seat is securely connected to your bike and that the chain is not rusted, loose, or out of place.
If you plan to ride at night or in the early morning, make sure you have the appropriate reflective materials on your bike and clothing. A good motto to follow is “See and be seen”. This means that you should be aware of what’s happening around you and motorists should be able to clearly see you. Avoid wearing dark or camouflage clothing. Wear a brightly colored shirt, pants, riding shoes, and helmet. A small mirror is another great addition for seeing traffic behind you.
The size of your bicycle is another important feature and can be adjusted slightly by moving the seat up or down. If your bike is too big for you, you will have trouble controlling it, which can lead to accidents. Stand next to your bike. If you are using a road bike, there should be approximately two-inches between you and the top bar. Mountain bikes should allow three to four-inches between the rider and the top bar. The seat should also be level with the bike’s handlebars.
Choosing the right type bike riding safety Gear
Even the best women’s bike or men’s bike could get it trouble. So, aside from inspecting your vehicle, the correct riding gear will help make sure you are safe and well-protected on the road. In many states, a helmet is a requirement by law. And for good reason. Your head is easily susceptible to injury. Whether you fall off your bike, are struck by a vehicle, run into an obstruction, or any other accident occurs, you want to ensure your skull is protected.
Not only can you do severe brain and external damage but you can even experience a concussion. Measure your head before purchasing a helmet. You can do this by taking a flexible measuring tape and wrap it around the circumference your head, about one-inch above your eyebrows. This will tell you the correct measurements for purchasing a helmet.
Other protective gear includes knee and elbow pads and even riding shorts with supportive padding for your buttocks, which helps with comfort for those long distance rides.
Now that your bike and body are equipped with the appropriate safety gear for riding, you’re ready to hit the road. But that’s where the element of safe riding and being aware of your surroundings comes into play. Although bicycles are considered vehicles on the road, some motorists don’t know this, which means the responsibility falls on you, the cyclist. You’re also the more vulnerable motorist and therefore, need to take extra precautions to remain safe.
The first thing to look for are road hazards. These include potholes, other riders, roadwork, glass or other debris along your route. Be sure to always have your eyes ahead, looking for anything that might be in your way. Depending on what area you live in, animals such as dogs, deer, and squirrels may enter your path. Be ready to make quick, safe decisions while riding. If you think music will make your ride more enjoyable, you may be right but avoid wearing a headset or any type of headgear that interferes with your hearing. This is one of the most important senses while riding. You need to hear other vehicles and warning signs that alert you to potentially dangerous situations.
Another important part of rider safety is being predictable. This means riding in a straight line, at an average pace, and not making erratic or unpredictable movements. The same rule holds true for motorists. Be sure to signal before you make a turn. You can easily do this with your arms. Look behind you for a break in the traffic and follow the flow of other cars when turning. Believe it or not, it’s not just moving vehicles that you need to be aware of. Parked cars can be a hazard for bike riders. If you aren’t looking straight ahead, you may mistake a parked car for one in motion. Someone in a parked car may also unexpectedly open their door or trunk, blocking your path of travel or distracting you. Be aware of both stationary and moving vehicles to avoid injury.
The most important element of bike safety is simply being aware. It is not only important to be aware of your surroundings, but you should be aware of the condition of your bike and equipment. It is important to view your bicycle as a vehicle and your obligation on the road as a fellow motorist. Cycling can be fun but it also needs to be taken seriously in order to keep everyone safe. Considering that there are so many cycling adventures you can go for; bike riding safety tips will help you to enjoy your cycling experience even more.
Article Submitted By Community Writer