When you’re out biking on the roads, safety should be your top priority. Many people are afraid to cycle on the street, but it doesn’t have to be so scary if you take certain safety precautions.
The next time you hit the pavement with your bike for a commute to work or a grocery store trip, remember these eight ways to be a better, safer cyclist.
Many states and cities have rules about the types of safety gear needed, like helmets or lights after dark. Even if your city has lax rules, you should always cycle with:
There’s no harm in adding more lights and reflectors to your bike, so go ahead and have fun with it! You can purchase lights for the spokes of your tires, add illumination to your jacket, and so much more.
Your brakes may just be the most important part of your bike. Check them regularly to ensure they’ve got enough stopping power.
Listening to music while cycling can be fun, but the road isn’t the place to rock out. You need the ability to hear cars, pedestrians, sirens, and other cyclists.
And it should go without saying: put your phone away while biking.
You don’t have to stare deeply into the eyes of drivers, but be sure to make eye contact at intersections and use hand signals when needed. This helps communicate intent, regardless of right of way.
The rules of the road apply to cyclists, so always come to a full stop at stop signs and red lights. Yes, it’ll involve unclipping to put a foot on the ground. If you’re wobbly at this, practice in a safe spot. You’ll be an efficient pro in no time.
Turning left is particularly tricky, but being aware will keep you safe. Unfortunately for cyclists, it’s always best to assume that the nearby drivers don’t even realize you’re there, so proceed with caution.
Predictability can be boring in other parts of our lives, but it’s a good rule to follow when biking. Ride in a straight line and don’t zigzag around in the bike lane or on the road, so the vehicles you’re sharing the road with can tell where you’re headed.
It might not be the most elegant way to phrase things, but learning how to not get hit is one of the best things you can do to become a better road biker. This list from BicycleSafe.com has detailed notes on 10 common scenarios that lead to bike-car crashes, and exactly how you can avoid them.