Riding your bike places is awesome. Not only is it a great way to get in exercise, but using your back could also help reduce your carbon footprint. Though riding your bike is safer for the environment, it may take more effort on your part to make sure you do not end up on the side of the road like roadkill. According to a 2018 study, the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 857 bicyclists were killed in traffic crashes in the U.S. in 2018. Here are some tips to follow to ensure you become a safer cyclist.
Get Off The Shoulder
This may seem counterintuitive, but riding your bike in the car lane is safer than riding on the very far right. When you do that, it can be easy for drivers to disregard you or count you as a distraction on the side of the road like anything else. Drivers in cars may also think since you are far off on the right, they can easily move past you. To increase your visibility, take the middle or even the far left of a lane. You may be annoying, but at least drivers do not have a choice but to treat you with care.
Know How To Stop Your Bicycle
Do not weave in and out of traffic unless it is safe to do so. Make complete stops at stop signs. Adhere to red lights. Know how to properly stop your bike. When something unexpected occurs on the road and you need to quickly stop, your first instinct may be to grip both brakes at the same time. Sometimes when you do this you may stop the bike, but you may lose control of the bike. You may even accidentally flip over the handlebars.
To avoid this, CityLab teaches the Quick Stop in which you squeeze both brakes but making sure to squeeze the front brake even more. This reduces the chances of the back wheel coming off the ground.
Get The Right Gear
Everyone knows it is safe to ride a bike with a helmet, but helmets cannot stop a car from hitting you. Some things you can use to make yourself more visible during the day or at night include a bike bell, using lights at night, wearing reflective gear or using a hybrid-style commuter bicycle with thicker tires. You do not need all this equipment to start riding to work, but they can help avoid accidents.
Understand Cars May Not See You
Even with all the right gear on, cars may still not see you. Avoid salmoning, or riding against the flow of traffic. Approach one-way streets with caution. Avoid riding on the sidewalk unless it is an emergency and you absolutely have to in order to avoid an accident with you or another vehicle or pedestrian. Maximize your visibility. Do not assume that cars can see you. Use the correct signaling hand motions if you do not have a signal hooked up to your bike.