Biking is a popular hobby and it is also a wonderful way to get exercise. It is also a very environmentally friendly way of getting around. However, many bikers, as well as those driving motor vehicles, do not always practice the safest habits while on the road.
“Biking in the city can make you feel like being a kid again: It lets you explore, hang out with your friends, and turn workday chores like commuting into adventures. But urban cycling can also be terrifying” (CityLab).
When you are riding your bike, particularly in a crowded city setting, you need to stay safe and here are some handy tips that can help you accomplish just that!
- Your bike is a vehicle — you still need to obey traffic laws. Be prepared and be alert just like you would when driving a car. Expect the unexpected. Obey the road signs and follow the basic driving laws such as stop signs, traffic lights, and right or way flow of traffic. Some bikers seem to want to ignore all the laws when they are the road and seem to think vehicle laws don’t apply to them- but they do!
- Prepare for anything — the bike lane isn’t a safety zone. Too often, hugging the bike lane starts to feel like a safety zone where you can relax and let your guard down. After all, it is made for bikes, right? Many times, vehicles forget the bike lane is there and many bikers have been hit by cars coming into the bike lane or cars that park and open their doors into the distracted biker’s path.
- Be predictable — never assume the car drivers see you. Cyclists most often get into accidents and near miss disasters for two different reasons: overconfidence or under confidence. Overconfident riders tend to ignore the rules of the road, ride against the traffic, and act like they own the road. Underconfident riders tend to be hesitant, wobbly, and are prone to weaving and swerving as they ride.
- Always wear a helmet — there is no excuse not to do this. There are no seat belts on a bike. There is no hard automobile shield around you. That helmet is all there is to protect you in the event of an accident. Even something as simple as hitting a rock and flying over the handlebars can end in disaster without a helmet, so imagine the deadly affect automobile collisions could have with no helmet in use.
- Stay visible to traffic — bright clothes and reflectors are a must. Make sure your bike has reflectors on it so you are easier to see, both at night and in the day time. If you ride at night, wear bright clothes and reflective safety vests. Invest in a light for your bike and try to keep your bike path along roads that are well lit by street lights for some added visibility and safety.
- Remove all distractions — don’t ride with music on or phone in hand. Many people today tend to ride with headphones or earbuds in so they can listen to the radio or their favorite workout sound tracks while on their bike ride. Some are even crazy enough to talk on the phone while riding around the city. This is a recipe for disaster and neither should be used while actively riding your bike.
- Check your bike — before you begin any ride, give your bike a look over. Just a few minutes to do a quick check before you head out on the road can save your life. Check the tires and chains, do a quick brake test, make sure your helmet is fitted properly, and look for any signs of wear and tear or damage to your bike. It just takes a few minutes but can have a lasting impact on your health and safety.
Bike riding is a lot of fun and is a healthy activity that many are engaged in, but when you are biking in the city you need to make sure you are staying as safe as you possibly can. These tips will help you and the people around you stay safe while you are enjoying your biking adventure.