Cycling is a low-cost, environmentally-friendly mode of transportation and a good form of exercise for all ages. It does, however, come with some risks.
You’re sharing the road with cars and pedestrians, and your bike won’t give you the same level of protection a car does. A car can absorb some of the damage caused by an accident, so it offers the driver and passenger a much higher level of protection. On a bike, you don’t even have a seatbelt or an airbag.
That’s why it can lead to severe and sometimes fatal injuries, including injuries to the head and brain, spinal cord and internal organs.
To avoid accidents, there are a few fundamental safety measures you need to take. While this might not guarantee complete safety, it can significantly lower the risk.
Make Sure Your Bike Is the Right Size
The first step you need to take to ensure your safety on the road is to ride the correct size bicycle for your body. If it’s too small or too big for your height, it will be more difficult to handle. To avoid accidents, you’ll sometimes need to react quickly, so you need to have good control over your bike.
When you’re shopping for a bike, always check the manufacturer’s sizing chart and make sure it’s appropriate for your height. As a general rule, if the bike is right for your height, you should be able to stand with your feet flat on the ground and have about two inches of space between your groin and the bike seat. Still, it’s better to check the size of the frame and see if it corresponds to your height.
Check Your Brakes
Before you hit the road, make sure that your brakes are working properly. The brake pads should rub against the disk rotor on the wheels.
You can check by spinning the wheels with your hand and pressing on the brake. Do this for both wheels. If there are any problems, try to fix them. If you can’t, do not ride the bike. It’s very dangerous. Take it to a professional that can fix it for you.
Headlights aren’t just for cars. Having headlights on your bike will enable you to see and be seen.
If you want to increase your safety on the road at all times, you can install headlights for both daytime and nighttime.
Wear a Helmet
Wearing a helmet reduces the risk of serious head injuries by half and of neck injuries by a third. Yes, feeling the wind in your hair is great, but it’s not worth it. Not when the price is life-altering or fatal injuries in case of an accident.
Also, never use a helmet that has already been damaged. They’re designed to crack on impact in order to protect your skull. Even if you think the helmet looks okay, in case of another accident, it will not give you the same level of protection.
Don’t Wear Headphones While Riding a Bike
A lot of people enjoy listening to music while riding their bikes but similarly to feeling the wind through your hair – it might feel good, but it’s not worth the risk.
You need to be able to hear what’s going on around you – cars, other bikes, people and sirens from first responders. You’re already vulnerable since you’re sharing the road with cars while you have a lot less protection than the drivers inside them. You need all your senses to keep yourself safe.
Follow the Flow of Traffic
When you’re riding your bike, always follow the flow of traffic, meaning ride your bike in the same direction as the cars on the road. This greatly reduces the risk of accidents.
Plus, if you’re riding against the flow of traffic and get into an accident, it’s more like that you’ll be found at fault, which can prevent you from getting financial compensation for your injuries. You can learn more about this from UKLaw.co.uk.
Signal Your Turns
Riding a bike instead of driving a car doesn’t mean the rules no longer apply to you. Ultimately, they’re there for your own safety, so don’t disregard stoplights or traffic signs.
You’re much safer if you ride your bike following the same rules and patterns as car drivers because this way, they can predict your behaviour. When you’re riding a bike, it’s much easier to weave in and out of traffic or cut across multiple lanes at once. But you shouldn’t because the last thing you want to do is take motorists by surprise. That’s why you want to let them know whenever you want to make a turn or move left or right by signalling with your arms.
Keep Both Hands on the Handlebars
Once you get good at riding a bike, you can do it even while drinking a cup of coffee or answering your cell phone. But, again, just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
Like we said before, to avoid accidents, you need to react quickly and have good control over your bike. Even if you’re a very experienced cyclist, using only one hand to control the bike is a lot more dangerous, especially if you’re using the other to hold your phone or a cup of coffee. It only takes a few seconds for an accident to happen, and by the time you put the other hand on the handlebars, it might be too late.
Wear a Reflective Vest or a Safety Triangle
One of the principles of riding your bike safely is making sure car drivers can see you. That’s what reflective gear is for, and you should use it both at night and during the day.
You’ll also want to straighten up when you hear cars approaching so that the reflective gear is more noticeable.
Get a Mirror
If you don’t use a mirror on your bike, get one and try it out. After a short while, you’ll be kicking yourself for going so long without it. First of all, it reduces the anxiety and paranoia considerably.
Plus, it increases safety. You’ll know what’s going on behind you without having to turn your head. If there’s a vehicle behind you and the driver doesn’t seem to see you, you’ll know and get out of the way.