Last updated on February 24, 2020
Road Cycling Safety Tips
Bicycle safety is a very important part of riding a bicycle. People ride bikes for many reasons including recreation and relaxation, for exercise, muscle toning, and weight loss, charity bike-a-thons, wine tours, bicycle races and many more!
While riding your bike is a very rewarding experience, you MUST know and use proper bicycle safety rules.
The following paragraphs will discuss bicycle safety, as well as how it applies to different aspects of bicycle riding.
#1 Wear a helmet
Protecting your head is so very important when you are riding a bike. It is very easy to injure your head or brain if you are involved in a bicycle accident, fall off of your bike, or lose your balance while riding. By wearing a protective helmet, you are taking steps in the right direction to guard your head and brain from possible injury due to accident.
Some examples of when a protective helmet is absolutely necessary include:
- when a child rides a bike
- when an inexperienced cyclist rides a bike
- bike races
- mountain biking.
Basically whenever you ride a bicycle is a good rule of thumb. Knowing you are protected can boost your confidence level, and make your bike riding experience more enjoyable.
Deaths of Cyclists
Statistics from The Bicycle Safety Institute confirm that deaths from cycling are on the rise. In 2018, 857 bicyclists died on roads in the United States. That is an increase of 6.3% and also 2.1% of all traffic fatalities during the year. This was the highest number of deaths since 1990 when deaths reached 855. Of note, 61% of bicyclists killed in 2018 were not wearing helmets. Helmet use was unknown for 24 %.
Statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reveal that a “typical” bicyclist killed on roads in the United States would be a sober male over 16 not wearing a helmet and riding on a major road between intersections in an urban area on a summer evening when hit by a car.
Every year around 2 % of motor vehicle crash deaths are bicyclists. Although child bicyclist deaths have declined over the y`ears, deaths among bicyclists age 20 and older have tripled since 1975. In a majority of deaths of a bicyclist, the most serious injuries are to the head – thus the high importance of wearing a bicycle helmet. Since 1975, many more male cyclists died than female cyclists. (female cyclists deaths have declined 3 times more than male deaths since 1975). Maybe that tells us that male cyclists tend to NOT wear safety helmets (my opinion).
So, be smart and…..
WEAR A PROTECTIVE HELMET!
Choosing a bicycle helmet
When fitting your helmet, think “Snug”, “level” and “Stable. Make sure the helmet is comfortably touching your head all the way around. It should be level and stable so as to resist even violent shakes and hard blows and still stay in place. Pick one that fits as low on your head as possible so the sides of your head are covered and the strap should be snug but comfortable. Mountain biking helmets sometimes have a chin guard to protect the mouth, chin, and jaws.
Dr. Terry Smith, Senior Scientist at Dynamic Research, and Daniel Pomerening of South West Research Institute collaborated on this paper explaining the complexities of foam thickness, but a mock-up with these parameters show a helmet too, large, heavy and high on the head. As of now, as far as concussions, there is no recognized minimum level of g’s and currently, no bike helmet standard is currently testing for low-velocity impact performance or for rotational force.
#2 – Avoid Crashes
There are basically two types of Crashes 1) falls, and 2) collisions with cars. The collision with a car is, of course, the most serious. There are some things to be aware of that can decrease the risk of crashes.
- Regardless of the season, bicyclist deaths occurred most often between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
- Bicyclist deaths occur most often in urban areas (75%) compared to rural areas (25%) in 2017.
- Bicyclist deaths were 8 times higher for males than females in 2017.
- Alcohol was involved in 37% of all fatal bicyclist crashes in 2018
Things to do to help avoid a crash:
- Make sure your bike is fitted to you so that you can more easily control it.
- Make sure your bike works, including the brakes.
- Wear protective equipment, like a bike helmet, bright clothing during the day and reflective gear and lights in the evening and nighttime
- Make sure you have a white light in front and a red light in the back.
- Ride one person per seat. Never ride 2 to a one-person bike.
- Carry all extra items, (.e., wallet, phone, water, camera, etc) in your clothing, or in bags strapped to your bike.
- Be sure to tie and then tuck in your shoelaces and pant legs so they don’t get caught in your bike chain or wheels.
- Plan your route—and choose routes with less traffic and slower speeds. Your safest route may be away from traffic altogether, in a bike lane or on a bike path.
- Know driving hand signals and use them when turning or stopping.
- Obey cycling laws,
- Obey street signs, signals, and road markings, just like when you are driving a car.
- Ride with the flow of traffic behind you, not facing the traffic. Know the laws for your city.
- Watch pedestrians, especially when you pass. Pas on the left and let them know you are there by saying “on the left” loudly enough for then to hear you or use your bell and say “left”.
- Assume you are invisible to every car on the road.
- Go slow and look for traffic (left-right-left and behind) when crossing a street from a sidewalk; be prepared to stop and follow the pedestrian signals.
- Be sure and look ahead for hazards or situations that may cause you to fall, like toys, pebbles, potholes, grates, train tracks so you can avoid them.
- Be sure to look for cars turning in front of you or out of driveways.
- Just like when driving your car, no texting, listening to music or using anything that distracts you by taking your eyes and ears or your mind off the road and traffic around you.
- Avoid riding at night or twilight and make sure your bike as lights if you do. Wear reflective clothing always.
- There is no place for anger or rage when riding a bike. Be polite and thank drivers for giving you access. A nod, slight wave of your hand or a mouthed “thanks” is great.
Protective Gear Suggestions
Protective gear for cyclists include the following:
- lights for both front and back of bike
- light-colored and reflective clothing
- a horn or bell for your bike
- bike mirrors so you can see whats coming up behind you.;
- gloves to reduce blisters and warm hands
- pads for elbows and knees if you mountain bike or are new to biking
- Sunglasses will help you see your surrounds when you are riding facing the sun.
Remember, its important to stay aware of your surroundings and the vehicles approaching and passing you. Use your mirrors and be sure and stop and look at each intersection. Also remember to ride on the right side of the path, road or trail and pass on the left after giving warnings.
Gloves and Pads
Bike lights and mirrors
#3 Ensure Your Bike is Working – Keep Up with Your Bike Maintenance
It’s actually quite easy to do routine maintenance on your own bike. And having the right tools for the job can mean the difference between enjoying an all-day ride and having to pack your bike up and head back home when something goes awry. So, what tools do you need to take along for the ride?
Bike Survival Kit
A basic bike survival kit should include:
Tire patch kit
Wrenches in various sizes
A more extensive bike survival kit would include:
Solvents specifically designed for bike chains
Things to Check for Before You Hit the Road on Your Bike
- Brakes: Ensuring your brakes are working well is vitally important. Make sure you check your pads often to prevent rim damage and to ensure that your bike actually stops when it is supposed to. Adjusting the tension is also important.
- Chain: degrease the chain and re-lube it. Clean rear sprockets with a brush tool.
- Gears: Check derailleur gear action and cables. Degrease chain and re-lube. Clean rear sprockets with brush tool.
- Pedals: Make sure the axle spins freely. Check bottom bracket axles for looseness.
- Steering: Make sure the handlebar and stem is tight.
- Frame: Check for damage. Make sure the seat is adjusted appropriately for your height.
- Wheels: Make sure spokes and nipples are tightened and wheels are trued.
- Check tire pressure and condition. If your suspension fork is quick release, make sure they are tightly fastened, and don’t forget to check tire pressure.
Bike repair kits
More cool training: Ebooks and training Plans
For Drivers – to avoid crashes with Bikes
Maybe you are cyclist, but you are also probably a driver too. Here’s some tips for you when you are driving:
- Share the road with cyclists. Stop the road rage – it helps no one and can be very dangers. Be polite to riders and other drivers.
- Look for cyclists on the road when opening a car door or pulling into the road from parking spots or driveways.
- Yield to cyclists when you are at intersections and do what the signs say, especiallyw hen turning left or right.
- When turning right on read, be sure and look behind you for cyclists approaching you on the right.
- Don’t text or use your phone – it can become distracted and not see cyclists.
- Remember cyclists have a right to the road also. Leave at least three feet between your vehicle and the cyclist when passing or driving beside a bike lane with riders. See the Safely passing bicylists chart
Arkansas State Statute on passing bicylists: Exercise due care and pass to the left at a safe distance of not less than three (3) feet and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken bicycle.
Thanks for reading my post, I hope you have learned some things to help keep you safe when cycling. I love to get questions and comments. Please leave yours below and share this post with others who you think would benefit. -Shirley
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