- An estimated 500,000 bicycle related injuries are treated annually in U.S. emergency rooms;
- Universal use of helmets would prevent around 45,000 head injuries and 55,000 scalp and facial injuries; and
- Despite the fact that nearly 70% of fatal bicycle accidents involve head injuries, only 20 to 25% of all bicyclists use helmets.
I share this information because I have a daughter (1 of 4 kids) who refuses at all costs to wear her helmet. She is one of my four most precious things I own! Also of note, she is inappropriately dressed for riding a scooter and always wearing flip flops! It would be devastating to me if anything were to happen to her that could have easily been planned, practiced, and avoided!
Here are 10 tips to make cycling safe for you and those around you
1. Cycling Citizenship
Along with the right to cycle come responsibilities. Familiarize yourself with all applicable traffic laws and cycling rules. Each state has its own set; be aware of them. Motorists will be much more willing to accept cyclist’s rightful place on the road if cyclists act lawfully and respectfully.
2. Right On
It is generally either illegal or unsafe to ride on a sidewalk or on the road towards oncoming traffic. As a rule, it is best to ride in the direction of traffic, staying as far to the right as is practical. However, make sure there is room to handle emergencies and that you do not ride so close to the right that you run the risk of hitting the curb and being thrown into traffic.
3. Join In
If you are traveling at the same speed as other traffic, it may be safer to jump in and ride with traffic; because, this may make you more visible to motorists. Joining traffic is sometimes necessary because the road is simply too narrow for both a bike and a car. It is a particularly good idea to take a lane and join traffic before an intersection to make your presence known—especially for right-turning drivers who may not see you as they start their turn.
4. Use Your Head
Regardless if you’re going to the corner store or heading out on a marathon ride, always wear a helmet. Make sure it is properly fastened and fitted. (The helmet should fit snugly and not move when you shake your head.)
5. Seeing Eye to Eye
Make eye contact with drivers whenever possible. This ensures that the motorists see you and helps you assert your rightful place on the road. This “personal connection” reminds motorists that you are indeed real LIFE in need of attention and protection. Once you make that connection, motorists may give you more respect on the road.
6. The Road Straightly Traveled
Try to ride consistently and predictably. For instance, at an intersection, do not veer into the crosswalk and then suddenly reappear on the road again. Don’t thread through parked cars.
7. Playing Defense
Make sure you are always aware of your surroundings. Know what is behind you and watch out for what is in front of you. Always be on the lookout for road hazards; sand and gravel, glass, railroad tracks, parked cars, snow and slush can wreak havoc on you and your bike. Sewer grates and cracks in the road can catch your wheel and cause you to be thrown from the bike. Watch for parked cars where people may be opening doors on the driver side of the vehicle without looking. Always wait until you have ample time to make your move, whether you are changing a lane or turning a corner. Do not expect to be granted the right of way in any instance.
8. Flaunt It
Make your presence felt. Wear bright color clothing. At night or in inclement weather, it is important to use reflective lights in the front, side and rear that make you visible from all directions.
9. Helping Hands
Emergencies happen. Be prepared. Always make sure you have at least one hand on your handlebars, no matter what. Know and use your hand signals whenever you are changing lanes or making a turn.
10. Brake Away
Make sure your brakes are always in top-notch condition. Be aware of how weather and road conditions can affect your ability to brake.