10 tips to ride a bicycle safely
A bicycle is a nice, healthy and environmentally friendly mode of transport. These 10 tips on bicycle safety have been compiled by the US NHTSA and the CPSC which can be equally applied to cyclists all over the world.
- Never ride a bicycle without a helmet. Bicycle helmets can reduce head injuries by 85 percent. Select a helmet that fits snugly and sits flat on the head. For children, use the extra padding that comes with the helmet to ensure a proper fit. This padding can be removed as the child’s head grows.
- Check your bicycle regularly. Make sure your bicycle is adjusted properly. You should be able to stand over the top of the tube of your bicycle. Adjust the bicycle to fit you. Before using your bicycle, check to make sure all parts are secure and working well. The handlebars should be firmly in place and turn easily. Your wheels must be straight and secure. Add a carrier to the back of your bicycle if you need to carry things.
- Always check brakes before riding. Always control your speed by using your brakes. If your bicycle has hand brakes, apply the rear brake slightly before the front brake. Always keep your brakes adjusted. If you cannot stop quickly, adjust your brakes. Consult your Bicycle Owner’s Manual or have a bicycle shop adjust the brakes. When your hand brake levers are fully applied, they should not touch the handlebars. Each brake shoe pad should wear evenly and never be separated more than one eighth inch from the rim. Ride slowly in wet weather and apply your brakes earlier – it takes more distance to stop.
- See and be seen. Wear clothes that make you more visible. Always wear neon, florescent, or other bright colors when riding a bicycle.
- Avoid biking at night. It is far more dangerous to bicycle at night than during the day. Most bicycles are equipped for daylight use and need to be adapted for night time use.
- Stay alert. Always keep a lookout for obstacles in your path. Watch out for potholes, cracks, expansion joints, railroad tracks, wet leaves, drainage grates, or anything that could make you fall. Before going around any object, scan ahead, and behind you for a gap in traffic. Plan your move, signal your intentions, and then do what you planned. If you are unsure, or lack the skill to handle an especially rough area, pull off to the right side of the road and walk your bicycle around the rough area. Be especially careful in wet weather and when there could be water puddles, ice or frost on your path.
- Go with the flow. Always go single file in the same direction as other vehicles. Riding against traffic puts you where motorists don’t expect you. They may not see you, and may pull across your path, or turn into you. Young children, typically under the age of nine, are not able to identify and adjust to many dangerous traffic situations, and therefore, should not be allowed to ride in the street unsupervised. Children who are permitted to ride in the street without supervision should have the necessary skills to safely follow the “rules of the road.”
- Check for traffic. Always be aware of the traffic around you. Over 70 percent of car-bicycle crashes occur at driveways or other intersections. Before you enter any street or intersection, check for traffic. Always look left-right-left, and walk your bicycle into the street to begin your ride. If already in the street, always look behind you for a break in traffic, then signal, before going left or right. Watch for left or right turning traffic.
- Learn rules of the road. Obey traffic laws. Bicycles are considered vehicles. Bicyclists must obey the same rules as motorists. Always signal your moves. Be courteous to pedestrians and other vehicle operators. Never wear headphones while riding as they impair your ability to hear traffic.
- Don’t flip over your bicycle. Wheels should be securely fastened. If your bicycle has quick release wheels, it is your responsibility to make sure they are firmly closed at all times and to use the safety retainer if there is one. Check your wheels before every ride, after any fall, or after transporting your bicycle.
Also watch “Bicycle riding tips for Adults” video.