Six Tips for Safe Cycling
The weather is warm and the flowers have bloomed. We are in the prime time of the year to get back outside and take full advantage of the local trails. May is National Bike Month, which means it is time to celebrate the unique power of the bicycle. There is an increasing population of Americans who prefer to ride their bike to work, or just get out there and explore a new place with their family and friends. Riding a bicycle can help with a variety of things including losing weight, building confidence, injury recovery and living longer.
However, it also comes with a host of risks and hazards. Just like cars, bicycles follow the same rules and regulations. There are two main types of crashes: falls and collisions with cars. The best thing you can do to prevent a crash is to prepare.
- Be sure your bike fits you so it’s easier to control.
- Test your brakes. It doesn’t matter how well you ride if there is an issue with your brakes.
- Ride with both hands on the handlebars, unless signaling to turn.
- If you have items to carry with you, carry them in a backpack strapped to your back, or to the back of the bike.
- Secure your shoes laces and pant legs so they do not get tangled in the bike chain.
- Map your ride. If you have to drive with cars, try to choose routes with less traffic and slower speeds.
Whatever you do, never ride tired, or worse, under the influence of alcohol. It’s essential to be focused, alert and anticipate what others may do around you. The faster you recognize a possible conflict, the faster you can avoid a crash. Assume people do not see you and look ahead for hazards in the road such as potholes, grates and train tracks.
Always ride your bike where you can be seen. In Pennsylvania, you are not permitted to ride your bicycle on a sidewalk. It is expected that bicyclists ride in the same direction as traffic and signal and look over their shoulder if changing lanes.
There is Always Room for Improvement
Practice and experience will only improve your ability and prevent potential crashes. If just starting out, begin in a safe environment away from traffic. There are also bike classes available at many bike shops to hone in your skill set.