The popularity of cycling over the past few decades has grown tremendously. This activity has numerous benefits starting from being harmless to the environment and ending with improving one’s health. It’s sad, but many cyclists also get injured or die in road accidents every year. While car drivers are largely responsible for traumas and fatalities among cyclists, bikers can avoid many dangers by following these basic safe cycling rules.
1. Wear the right gear
The clothes you wear while in the saddle of your bike can save your life or at least mitigate the risk of a serious injury.
- Helmet. Always wear a protective helmet that meets the following requirements:
- It must be good fit for you and have straps you can adjust. Never leave the helmet loose on your head because it may slip off unexpectedly and cause an accident.
- It can’t be heavy.
- It must be well-ventilated through openings in the material.
- It must provide an unobstructed view of the road and area around.
- It must be made of a material that securely protects the cyclist’s head in the event of collisions and falls.
- Colorful and light-reflecting clothing. One of the principal safe cycling rules is to be as conspicuous on the road as possible. Choose all the bright colors for your cycling attire. Thus, you increase the chance to be noticed by the drivers of other vehicles moving along with you. Wearing a vest or jersey with light-reflecting patches or stripes is of utmost importance at night and in bad weather when the visibility is poor.
- Glasses. You need these to shield your eyes from dirt, rain, or anything else that may fly at you as you’re cycling along. Also, consider wearing sunglasses not to be blinded by the sun.
2. Avoid traveling in the rush hour
With hundreds of vehicles honking their horns and drivers anxious to get to the office or back home the fastest possible, safe cycling is very unlikely. Wait for the traffic to be less intense, and then set off. When you do have to cycle in the rush hour, find other bikers to join you.
3. Keep your bike in good order
This is obvious. By looking after your iron friend properly you can make its lifespan longer and prevent future accidents. If the chain suddenly comes off when you’re descending a steep hill, you are most likely to collide with something. Professional bike repairers recommend going over these steps every day:
- Check the tires. They must feel firm. Check their pressure (you can find the required value on the tire’s wall) with a pressure gauge.
- Check the brakes work as they should.
- Make sure the saddle is raised to the right height.
- Check that the pedals turn freely.
- See if the front and rear wheels spin without an effort (without touching the brakes).
- Ascertain that the wheels are firmly positioned in the forks.
Apart from daily maintenance, you need to perform other operations like lubricating the chain or checking wheel bearings weekly, monthly, and annually.
4. Stay focused on the road
The road forgives no mistakes. You must concentrate on what is happening ahead, around and behind you.
- Be careful when approaching a parked car since one of its doors may suddenly open and hit you. When riding along a parked vehicle distance yourself from it to its approximate door length.
- Exclude all distracting factors. Never wear headphones and turn off or silence your smartphone.
- Watch out for tram tracks. That’s especially important on rainy days when the tracks are slippery. The same goes for manholes and drains. Try not to ride over them altogether.
5. Follow the traffic rules
A cyclist is just a traffic participant. Thus, you must follow all the rules of the road car drivers do. That suggests moving with the flow, obeying the traffic lights, and letting pedestrians pass crossings.
6. Turn on the lights during the day
In addition to wearing bright clothing, keep the rear and front lights on your bicycle turned on even when the sun is shining. That’s because some drivers have bad side vision. With your lights flashing, you have a higher chance to attract such motorists’ attention.
7. Remember about other drivers and riders
Another safe cycling rule is to be predictable. Avoid making abrupt turns. Never turn without giving an appropriate signal. If possible, make eye contact with other traffic participants.
8. Don’t ride on the inside of long vehicles
Riding on the inside of a long bus or truck is extremely risky. The driver of the vehicle may suddenly turn left without as much as giving a corresponding signal. That may knock you off your bike.
Let us be honest: the only safe place for a biker is his or her home. Anything may happen when you pedal along a busy road. Still, you can considerably reduce the risk of an accident if you stick to the safe cycling rules listed above. Keep your bike in shape, respect the traffic law and your fellow-drivers, be visible, and follow other essential guidelines to make your cycling experience smooth and pleasant.