By Nathan Erb
Even the occasional cyclist knows the obvious safety tips: Wear a helmet and Don't get hit by a car. While that's a great start, we're here to take you deeper into the two-wheeled-world of safety.
Whether you bike for physical fitness, to save money and the environment, or to avoid the traffic headache by commuting, bicycles are more popular than ever. Read on for tips that every rider and driver need to know.
Tips For Cyclists
Even before hitting the road, make sure your bike and body are well prepared.
- Just like a car, your bike needs routine maintenance. Check your brakes regularly and keep your tires inflated. An expert at a local bike shop can even do a complete tune-up.
- Make sure your bike is adjusted to fit you. Again, your local bike shop can make adjustments to optimize the bike for you.
- Get the right accessories. A bell to alert pedestrians, mirrors, reflectors and, of course, a helmet. A headlight and taillight are often required by law when riding at night.
- Your bike is in shape, but are you? Before taking a long trip, start with shorter trips and stretch beforehand.
- Dress for the part. Wear light, reflective clothing at night. For longer trips, dress in layers.
A helmet is great, but preventing a collision in the first place is even better. Follow these tips to do your part—we've got tips for motorists below.
- Be predictable. Always ride in a straight line, as far to the right as safely possible, but remaining visible to drivers. Don't swerve, and use hand signals if you're slowing down or turning.
- Get personal. Make eye contact with other drivers (in a non-creepy way) to ensure that they see you, and they'll give you more respect on the road.
- Watch for hazards. Piles of leaves, puddles, gravel and other dangers could make you lose control of your bike. In the city, watch for manhole covers, sewer grates and other surfaces that can become slick.
- Obey the law. Since laws vary by state, make sure you know the rules beforehand. Red lights and stop signs apply to you, too.
Tips For Motorists
Bicycles on the road are, by law, vehicles with the same rights as motor vehicles. It's the responsibility of both the rider and driver to share the road. Here's a few ways to protect those using pedal power.
- Be patient. If the lane is too narrow, if there's oncoming traffic, or if you don't have enough visibility to pass...don't.
- Reduce your speed when approaching a bicycle. Even if there's a bike lane, an opening car door, for example, may cause the rider to swerve into traffic.
- Don't honk. You could startle the rider. Make eye contact and, if you make a mistake, everyone loves a courtesy wave.
- Be extra cautious of children. They can be even more unpredictable and less aware of the dangers around them.