4 Important Ways to Stay Safe While Biking
Whether you’re an avid cyclist or just someone who likes to go out for an occasional bike ride, it’s important to prioritize your safety while on your journey. Mishaps can occur while biking along roads, trails and other areas, and you’ll want to do everything possible to keep yourself out of harm’s way. Following these four tips can help you stay safe while biking.
Try Bike Reflectors
Bike reflectors reflect light from the sun and vehicle headlights, making you more visible to others. A reflector can be attached to the back and front of your bike. There are also reflectors that can be placed around the wheels to provide maximum visibility. Another option is to stick some reflective tape on your clothing or on parts of your bike so that you can be seen clearer in darker settings. While this may not seem like a stylish option, bikers are often missed by drivers because they move quickly and are smaller than cars. Reflectors for bikes are made of the same materials as those used for traffic cones, barriers, and even on vehicles. Because of this association, drivers will be more likely to instinctively avoid getting too close to your bike before they even fully register that there is a biker on the road.
Wear Bright Clothing
Everyone should be wearing a helmet when on a bike, but helmets aren’t the only style choice that can increase your safety. Wearing bright clothing is another great way to make yourself more noticeable so that motor vehicles or other cyclists don’t collide into you. Fluorescent colored-clothing with yellow-green often works well when cycling during the day. Plain white can also be a good choice for day or night rides. You’ll be more visible in dimmer light by wearing an orange-red fluorescent color. Windbreakers and jackets made specifically for bikers are available on the market that intentionally incorporate these color schemes, some even including reflectors for maximum safety. Even when you are decked out in neon and reflectors, however, never take for granted that a car will stop for you. You are much more exposed on a bike than in a car and are much more likely to be severely injured in an accident than the driver, so it is especially important to use defensive techniques and to always be aware of your surroundings.
Use Hand Signs
Unless you put electronic turn signals on your bike, you’ll want to use hand signs to let drivers, pedestrians, and other cyclists who are near you know what your next move will be. If you’ve ever had to deal with a car on the road that never uses a turn signal, you know how important indicating your intended direction is. If you don’t signal your intent, then cars will assume that you are going straight and act accordingly, potentially leading to a crash if you turn unexpectedly. DMV.org lists several hand signs that can be used for bikers and drivers whose turn signals aren’t working. Pointing with your left arm straight out to your left side will indicate that you want to turn left. You can also hold your left arm up and turn it to a 90-degree angle to signify a right turn. If you are already stopped at a stop sign, take a moment to make eye contact with the driver that will be crossing your intended route, just like you would as a pedestrian. In terms of rules of the road, make sure to remember that you are held to all of the same driving rules as cars, including following all of the same signs.
Plan Routes Ahead of Time
Spontaneity can sometimes be a good thing in life, but not when you’re travelling upwards of 10-20 miles an hour on a bike. Stopping too frequently in or at the side of the road increases your likelihood of running complications with other vehicles, making it safer to know your route ahead of time, and also makes it easier to signal your intent if you already know where you’re going. If you don’t plan ahead, you also increase the chance of getting lost, running into rugged and unfamiliar roads that your tires are ill-suited for, or hitting areas of dangerously high traffic. You’ll also want to know how and where to get help if you are injured or your bike is disabled. In addition to mapping out your route in advance, you can bring a GPS tracker or use your cellphone’s mobile tracking system as a guide. Whether you bike habitually or just on occasion, make sure you travel with identification, emergency contact numbers, and relevant medical information like heart conditions or allergies in the event you are incapacitated. Selecting a personal injury attorneyahead of time can also make getting compensation for injuries simpler, as you won’t have to do research and compare service quotes during your recovery process.
You can avoid danger and enjoy a better bike ride by taking preventative measures to stay safe. It is much easier to enjoy your ride when you don’t have to worry about where you’re going or if you can be seen. Biking is extremely beneficial for your cardiovascular health and for maintaining a healthy level of toned muscle mass, and by taking care of your safety as well, you’ll be able to stay healthy and enjoy your riding experience to the fullest.